The light heavyweight division seems to have a resurgence in 2019 as yet another high-profile bout involving ranked contenders will take place in the coming months. That, plus the UFC has introduced another fighter, and you can read my thoughts about all of the news below in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Ovince Saint-Preux vs. Misha Cirkunov, UFC 235
The UFC declared an intriguing light heavyweight bout between top-15 ranked contenders Ovince Saint-Preux and Misha Cirkunov will happen at UFC 235, going down March 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Saint-Preux (23-12) is 11-7 overall in the UFC and has settled into the role of gatekeeper in the light heavyweight division. OSP lost a crystal clear choice to Dominick Reyes his out his time, but he submitted Tyson Pedro in remarkable fashion his struggle before that. He is not much 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, although that run may end up being the high point of his MMA career. The Reyes fight was certainly a step backwards, however, as was a submission defeat to Ilir Latifi that preceeded 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 in the UFC and in his last expedition filed Patrick Cummins. He was knocked out by Volkan Oezdemir and Glover Teixeira his two fights before this, but the triumph 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 am worried about Cirkunov’s chin letting him down , I think he has what it takes to conquer OSP. I simply find OSP such a bothersome fighter to predict how he’s going to do, while I think Cirkunov is a bit more steady. I’d expect a competitive line, but with a slight lean towards the fighter in Cirkunov.
Craig White Cut, Signs With Cage Warriors
Former UFC welterweight Craig White has signed with Cage Warriors, the promotion announced. Of course, this means the UFC recently cut him. White (14-9) had a rough go in the UFC after leaving Cage Warriors as one of its best welterweight contenders. He made his Octagon introduction on quite 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 from Diego Sanchez in his second battle, but it did not go his way. Despite entering this bout as a significant favorite, White was ruled by an aging Sanchez also it was the kind of reduction that created the UFC want to cut 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 finishes for White and he could very well be signed back into the UFC, though he may fare much better as a middleweight going forward. White’s competition because of his return to Cage Warriors hasn’t been declared yet, but he will fight at Cage Warriors 102, which such as UFC 235 additionally occurs March.
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