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The light heavyweight division seems to have a resurgence in 2019 as yet another high-profile bout involving rated contenders will take place in the forthcoming months. That, plus the UFC has released another fighter, and you can read my thoughts on all of the news below in the current 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 happen 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 into the role of gatekeeper in the light heavyweight division. OSP lost a crystal clear decision 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, although that run may prove to be the high point of his MMA career. The Reyes battle was certainly a step backward, though, as was a entry defeat to Ilir Latifi who preceeded that the Pedro win. OSP is a very solid 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 was pumped out by Volkan Oezdemir and Glover Teixeira his two fights before that, but the triumph over Cummins place him back on track and reminded us 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 simply find OSP such a frustrating fighter to forecast how he’s going to do, while I believe Cirkunov is a bit more steady. I would anticipate a competitive lineup, but with a slight 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. Obviously, this means the UFC lately cut on 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 finished by top-10 rated Neil Magny, cutting upwards of 30lbs to create weight. The UFC gave him a favorable matchup from Diego Sanchez in his second fight, 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 type of loss that made 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 year. A couple of endings for White and he could well be signed back to the UFC, though he may fare much better as a middleweight going forward. White’s opponent because of his return to Cage Warriors has not been announced yet, but he will fight at Cage Warriors 102, which like UFC 235 also takes place March.
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