The light heavyweight division looks to have a resurgence in 2019 as yet another high profile bout between ranked contenders will take place in the forthcoming months. That, plus the UFC has introduced an additional fighter, and you can read my thoughts about each of the news below in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Ovince Saint-Preux vs. Misha Cirkunov, UFC 235
The UFC announced an interesting light heavyweight bout between top-15 ranked contenders Ovince Saint-Preux and Misha Cirkunov will take place at UFC 235, going down March 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Saint-Preux (23-12) is 11-7 overall from the UFC and has settled in to the role of gatekeeper in the light heavyweight division. OSP lost a crystal clear decision to Dominick Reyes his out his time, but he filed Tyson Pedro in impressive fashion his fight before that. He is not far removed from a three-fight win streak that included a KO over Corey Anderson and Von Flue chokes against Yushin Okami and Marcos Rogerio de Lima, though that streak might prove to be the high point of his MMA career. The Reyes battle was certainly a step backward, however, as was a submission defeat to Ilir Latifi that preceeded that the Pedro win. OSP is a very good gatekeeper, but his days as a title contender appear to be over.
Cirkunov (14-4) is 5-2 at the UFC and in his last outing submitted Patrick Cummins. He was pumped out by Volkan Oezdemir and Glover Teixeira his two fights before this, but the triumph over Cummins place him back on track and reminded us all why the Latvian-Canadian was this impressive prospect. Now that he’s living in Las Vegas, this will be a hometown fight of sorts for him. Although I am worried about Cirkunov’s chin letting him down again, I think he has what it takes to beat OSP. I just find OSP such a bothersome fighter to forecast how he’s going to do, while I believe Cirkunov is somewhat more steady. I’d expect a competitive line, but with a little lean towards the fighter in Cirkunov.
Craig White Cut, Signs With Cage Warriors
Former UFC welterweight Craig White has signed back with Cage Warriors, the advertising announced. Of course, this means the UFC recently cut him. White (14-9) had a rough go at the UFC after leaving Cage Warriors as one of its best welterweight contenders. He made his Octagon introduction on very short notice and has been finished by top-10 rated Neil Magny, cutting upwards of 30lbs to make weight. The UFC gave him a favorable matchup from Diego Sanchez in his second fight, but it didn’t go his way. Despite entering that bout as a substantial favorite, White was dominated by an aging Sanchez also it was the kind of reduction that created the UFC want to decrease ties with White. However, he does have one saving grace here, and it is that Cage Warriors is on Fight Pass this past year. A couple of finishes for White and that he could well be signed back to the UFC, however he can fare better as a middleweight going forward. White’s competition for his return to Cage Warriors has not been announced yet, but he’ll fight at Cage Warriors 102, which like UFC 235 additionally takes place March.
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