The light heavyweight division seems to have a resurgence in 2019 as yet another high profile bout between ranked contenders will take place in the forthcoming months. That, and the UFC has released an additional fighter, and you can read my thoughts about each the news below in the current MMA odds and ends.
Ovince Saint-Preux vs. Misha Cirkunov, UFC 235
The UFC declared an interesting light heavyweight bout between top-15 ranked contenders Ovince Saint-Preux and Misha Cirkunov will take place at UFC 235, heading 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 clear choice to Dominick Reyes his last time out, but he submitted Tyson Pedro in impressive fashion his struggle before that. He’s 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 may end up being the high point of his MMA career. The Reyes fight was certainly a step backward, though, as was a entry defeat to Ilir Latifi who 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 had been pumped out by Volkan Oezdemir and Glover Teixeira his two fights before this, but the win over Cummins place him back on track and reminded us why the Latvian-Canadian was such an impressive prospect. Now that he’s living in Las Vegas, this is going to be a hometown fight of sorts for him. Although I’m worried about Cirkunov’s chin allowing him down again, I think he has what it takes to conquer OSP. I just find OSP such a frustrating fighter to predict how he is going to perform, while I believe Cirkunov is somewhat more steady. I would expect a competitive line, but with a little lean towards the fighter in Cirkunov.
Craig White Cut, Evidence With Cage Warriors
Former UFC welterweight Craig White has signed back with Cage Warriors, the promotion announced. Of course, this usually means the UFC lately cut him. White (14-9) had a rough go in the UFC after leaving Cage Warriors among its best welterweight contenders. He left his Octagon debut on very short notice and has been completed by top-10 ranked Neil Magny, cutting upwards of 30lbs to create weight. The UFC gave him a favorable matchup from Diego Sanchez in his second battle, but it didn’t go his way. Despite entering this bout as a significant favorite, White was ruled by an aging Sanchez also it was the type of loss that made the UFC want to decrease ties with White. But he does have one saving grace here, and it is that Cage Warriors is about Fight Pass this past season. A couple of endings for White and he could well be signed back into the UFC, though he can fare better as a middleweight going forward. White’s opponent for his return to Cage Warriors hasn’t been declared yet, but he’ll struggle at Cage Warriors 102, which such as UFC 235 additionally occurs March.
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