The light heavyweight division seems to have a resurgence in 2019 as yet another high-profile bout involving ranked contenders will occur in the forthcoming months. That, and the UFC has released another fighter, and you can read my thoughts on each the news below in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Ovince Saint-Preux vs. Misha Cirkunov, UFC 235
The UFC announced an intriguing 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 into the role of gatekeeper in the light heavyweight division. OSP lost a clear choice to Dominick Reyes his last time out, 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 run 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 that preceeded that the Pedro win. OSP is a very good gatekeeper, but his days as a title contender seem to be over.
Cirkunov (14-4) is 5-2 at the UFC and in his last outing submitted Patrick Cummins. He had been knocked out by Volkan Oezdemir and Glover Teixeira his two fights before this, but the win over Cummins put him back on track and reminded us all why the Latvian-Canadian was this impressive prospect. Now that he is living in Las Vegas, this will be a hometown fight of sorts for him. Although I’m worried about Cirkunov’s chin letting him down again, I still think he has what it takes to beat OSP. I simply find OSP such a bothersome fighter to forecast how he is going to perform, while I think Cirkunov is a bit more steady. I’d anticipate a competitive line, but with a little lean towards the younger fighter in Cirkunov.
Craig White Cut, Evidence With Cage Warriors
Former UFC welterweight Craig White has signed with Cage Warriors, the promotion announced. Obviously, this means the UFC lately cut on him. White (14-9) had a rough go in the UFC after departing Cage Warriors among its top welterweight contenders. He made his Octagon debut on very short notice and was completed by top-10 rated Neil Magny, cutting upwards of 30lbs to make weight. The UFC gave him a favorable matchup against Diego Sanchez in his second fight, but it didn’t go his way. Despite entering this bout as a significant favorite, White was ruled by an aging Sanchez and it was the type of loss that created the UFC wish to cut ties with White. But he does have one saving grace here, and it is that Cage Warriors is on Fight Pass this past season. A few finishes for White and he could very well be signed back into the UFC, however he can fare better as a middleweight heading forward. White’s competition because of his return to Cage Warriors hasn’t been declared yet, but he’ll struggle at Cage Warriors 102, which such as UFC 235 additionally takes place March.
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