Exclusive: Santiago Ponzinibbio eyeing March-May return, teases a UFC event in Argentina
Santiago Ponzinibbio has quietly amassed a six-fight winning streak in the UFC’s stacked welterweight division.
The native of Argentina is currently coming off of a solid victory over rising contender Mike Perry. The fight was made to figure out which of the two would go on to enter the top-ten. All three of the judge’s scorecards read 29-28 and the Argentine became ranked number ten in the world.
For the man the man affectionately referred to as the “Ponzi Scheme” the victory was a ‘good one’ even if he did get tired in the process.
“It’s good, good victory, it was a good fight more me, a good victory,” Ponzinibbio told MMA Latest. “I got a little bit tired in the second round and the third round. I trained a lot, my conditioning is really good but my recovery is not very good, I felt very tired. I have more experience, I know I have more fights than this guy. I’m the more complete fighter, I won, I controlled the fight all the time and I won, it’s good.”
Before he fought Perry, Ponzinibbio had to take out the Icelandic grappler, Gunnar Nelson. Although “Gente Boa” won the fight via knockout, the contest didn’t end without any controversy. Nelson came out after the fight and claimed he had been poked in the eye ‘multiple times’, a claim Ponzinibbio finds suspicious.
“No,” Ponzinibbio says as he shoots down any notion of his victory having less significance due to the eye pokes. “I have fourteen fights in UFC (The Ultimate Fighter included.) I never did anything illegal in the fight. If Gunnar Nelson felt anything he didn’t make a sign, he didn’t move or anything. I would have stopped the fight if he had put his hands up, but he didn’t say anything in the fight, the only sign was after the fight when he lost. This is stupid (Nelson’s claim) if he felt something in the fight he should’ve put his hands up and I would’ve stopped in the moment. The referee and the UFC they didn’t see anything either, this is stupid.”
Having moved on from the Nelson and Perry fights, Ponzinibbio now has his eyes set on the title. Although he believes a title shot could be next, he isn’t going to say no to a number one contender fight.
“I don’t understand the rankings, the rankings don’t make sense,” Ponzinibbio said. “I have six victories in a row, I have fourteen fights in the UFC I have four fights on TUF Brazil second edition really good TUF on the show I won all my fights in the UFC I have eight victories with six wins in a row six knockouts in the first round but I think I’m ready for the belt. But UFC- I don’t know… If they give me the belt, perfect. If they give me one more, okay give me, maybe, a top-five guy, Robbie Lawler or Rafael dos Anjos. So if I beat this guy I go on to fight for the title.”
If not for the title, Ponzinibbio only sees two opponents that could potentially make sense next. As for his return to the cage, don’t expect to wait too long.
“I think Robbie Lawler is a good fight, I think Robbie Lawler or Rafael dos Anjos is a good option. I’m waiting for my next fight, I’m ready for April, May, maybe March. I’m ready for one more fight.”
Currently, there has never been a UFC event in Argentina, but that doesn’t mean the sport isn’t popular in his homeland.
“These days, in Argentina, the UFC is really popular,” Ponzinibbio says. “The UFC gets brought up a lot. I’m really happy because all the people know me and I’m really happy that the UFC represents my country and hopefully the UFC comes to Argentina. In all of Latin America, it’s really popular”
But Ponzinibbio believes it won’t be long before the UFC comes to Argentina, especially with the promotion set to host an event in Chile.
“The UFC has signed in the next year two events in South America in Brazil and Chile and hopefully one event in Argentina,” Ponzinibbio laughs. “The UFC hasn’t confirmed anything but I think this is their big chance.”
With Ponzinibbio’s 2017 having gone so well, he takes a moment to outline his goals for 2018.
“My goal for 2017 was to stay in the top ten in the world,” Ponzinibbio said. My goal for 2018 is the belt and I want to help develop this sport in South America especially in Argentina and take this belt. I’m ready to be the next champion. If I need one more fight that’s okay I’ll fight at the start of the year March or April and then later this year I’ll fight for the belt.”
Santiago Ponzinibbio can be found on Facebook @SantiagoPonzinibbioMMA, Twitter @SPonzinibbioMMA, and Instagram @sponzinibbiomma
Dana White gives update on Conor McGregor and the lightweight division
The top end of the UFC’s lightweight division is thriving. Dustin Poirer defeated former division champion Anthony Pettis, in dominant fashion. Tony Ferguson won the lightweight division’s interim title by carving Kevin Lee from his back. Safe to say, no everyday person would ever want to see Khabib Nurmagomedov down a damp and dark alley. Don’t forget, the gutsy performance of Eddie Alvarez stealing Justin Gaethje’s undefeated record away. The division is thriving like gas attempting to escape a shaken champagne bottle.
On Friday, UFC President, Dana White, spoke to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, about a number of topics. One, which came up fairly quickly; Conor McGregor and his stranglehold on the lightweight belt. The pair began talking about recent performances inside the octagon when the illustrious name of, Khabib Nurmagomedov, came up. White claimed, “Conor always finds a way to win. When he hits you, you go…”. Then speaking of the potential bout between Nurmagomedov and McGregor, “I love that matchup but, Tony Ferguson is the interim champion. Conor and I haven’t really figured out when he’s coming back and what’s going on…”. He continued, “I don’t think Conor wants to fight until August, but if he waits until August or September, that’s around two years since the belt has been defended and that can’t happen”.
Iole followed up by asking, due to circumstances, does McGregor owe it to the sport to defend his title? The UFC president agreed, “And to the other fighters. Not only to the sport but, to the other fighters. This is a game of time… when you’re a professional athlete, time is your enemy and we can’t let this thing go on forever and not give other guys the opportunity. Tony Ferguson has been around for a long time and has earned his dues, Khabib has earned his dues… Conor has done very well, he’s made a lot of money, and if he decides that he doesn’t want to fight again for another however long that’s up to him… but, the belt has to move on… we gotta figure some stuff out here in the next couple months”.
It only makes sense that the UFC wants progression in the one-hundred and fifty-five lb. division. Even without their massive revenue generator, the division must move on. Athletes like Nurmagomedov may be relatively unknown outside the MMA community in the United States but, his official Instagram page holds 3.2 million followers. While Tony Ferguson may not hold online notoriety, he does have an exciting style. A style that could win a good many of fans, the more exposure he receives.
For White, one of these two men must fight for the division’s championship title. When asked about what is next, he stated, “As long as Conor is willing to fight by March, we could do Khabib versus Tony and then the winner fights Conor… or Conor doesn’t wanna fight and wants to sit out till next fall. Then we would have to make Khabib vs. Tony for the title”.
Time can be the only truth serum in this particular situation. The UFC brass has spoken of forcing McGregor to vacate his lightweight title for some time. Yet, nothing has happened. On the other hand, it would be more than surprising to see the division’s belt sit on the shelf for another year. Considering it all, including the status of contenders and depth of the division, the bottleneck created by one man never ceases to amaze.
Exclusive: Neil Magny: “It’s going to come down to fighting tooth and nail”
On Saturday, December 30th, Neil Magny steps back into the Octagon as he takes on the returning Carlos Condit. Magny’s had a rough past couple of months as the 6’3 welterweight has alternated wins and losses as well as fighting a lot less than usual. Magny was known as one of the most active fighters on the UFC roster until injuries started to take away from his time in the cage.
Welcoming Magny back to the cage is a man who is also making his return after a long layoff, Carlos Condit. Fans and even Magny have been waiting a long time for the fight to come together.
“I love this fight, this a fight I’ve been chasing for nearly two years now,” Magny told MMA Latest. “The fight’s going to be happening this Saturday and I’m excited for it.”
Condit hasn’t competed since he lost to Demian Maia back in August 2016. The Jackson-Wink product lost via first round rear-naked choke, the loss prompted a semi-retirement that left everyone unsure if he would ever return. The time spent away from the cage could potentially bring upon the universally hated “ring-rust”.
“Not at all,” Magny said as he shot down any talks of ring-rust. “I mean, if anything, I would be more affected by ring rust than he is. I mean, I’m a guy who likes to compete all throughout the years. This is the least amount of fights I’ve had in a year- in awhile- I don’t think the ring rust will be a factor at all and I can’t let that allow me to think that this fight will be easier because of that.”
With Condit’s return being the big story in this fight, it’s easy to think Magny’s been swept under the rug. The fan-favorite has been loved for his tendency to turn every fight into a brawl and putting everything on the line. The hype and excitement haven’t lead Magny to believe he’s being overlooked.
“Not all,” Magny says with a shrug. “I don’t feel like I’m being overlooked in this fight at all. There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of hype around Condit going into this fight. But yeah I don’t consider it a bad thing at all. I know I’m focused on what I need to do and I spend most of my time focusing on that rather than the other possibilities or what media attention is drawn to that kind of thing.”
Condit’s tendency to turn his fights into brawls is something Magny’s comfortable with, as technique and advantages tend to fly out the window. The Colorado native is honest about where his strengths are.
“This is a fight where it’s going to be a fight and turn into a brawl and were going to fight tooth and nail,” Magny said. “Going into this fight I don’t have the grappling advantage, the submission advantage, I don’t have the significant striking advantage. So anywhere this fight goes it’s not going to be one guy just outclassing the other guy. I know it’s going to come down to fighting tooth and nail or anything that will win this fight. So that’s something that I’m looking forward to the most- going out there and allowing this fight to go down successfully.”
Magny’s rough patch continued in his last fight when he lost to former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos by submission. While a good chunk of fighters have a tendency to dwell on losses, Magny’s moved on and, more importantly, he’s learned from his mistakes.
“I could backtrack and pick the fight apart and find a thousand things I did wrong and things I could’ve done differently,” Magny begin to explain. “But at the end of the day, it is what it is. There’s nothing I can do to change the outcome of the fight, all I can do is make sure I’m as prepared as I can be for this fight. That’s what I’ve been spending my time focusing on as well as covering every angle going into this fight mentally, physically, and emotionally. Everything I need to do to be successful in this fight I’ll do it.”
Although Magny’s moved on from the loss, that hasn’t stopped him from making changes in his lead up to fights.
“Since my last fight one of the main things I changed in my training camp was the use of a sports physiatrist,” Magny said. “I noticed for these last four fights I got myself into tough positions all three have been lackluster fights that I wasn’t too proud of. Coming into this fight we’ll be sure to work on all angles and we’ll see if the talks and working with a sports physiologist will make a difference. I have no idea but the thing about it is that I want to be as prepared as possible.”
Welterweight contender Kamaru Usman claimed that Magny was going to fight him, that is until Magny accepted the fight with Condit.
“No, nothing was ever set for Usman and I to ever fight,” Magny said. “I was in a position where I was coming off a loss and it didn’t matter who I fought next. I was just eager to get that nasty taste out of my mouth from the last fight. So he’s done his usual call me out on Twitter call me out on Instagram wherever he could I was just like ‘meh whatever, if you really want to fight me I’m available, I’m interested in doing it right away’ so why not take the matchup sooner and get the taste out of my mouth.”
Although the fight with Usman isn’t happening, the fight with Condit definitely is. So what does Magny predict?
“I see me going out there and just winning any way I see,” Magny said. “Whether its a decision where we go back and forth and go all out war, or me getting the TKO, submission, or knockout. I mean, I’m just looking forward to going out there and getting my hand raised.”
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