LaFlare came in with an undefeated (8-0) record in mixed martial arts (MMA). He had the only Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) win between the two fighters, a decision win over Ben Alloway at UFC on Fuel TV 9 this April.
Ponzinibbio, a tough veteran of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil 2," made his official Octagon debut last night.
LaFlare and Ponzinibbio locked horns in an exciting bout for the Brazilian fans. It was clear that LaFlare won on the judges' scorecards, but Ponzinibbio showed unwavering heart and toughness throughout. Let's take a look back at LaFlare's impressive victory in Goiania.
The fight opened with a short striking exchange before experienced wrestler LaFlare secured a takedown. He immediately transitioned into the mount. LaFlare found a home for a big elbow and went for an armbar, but Ponzinibbio scrambled to escape. LaFlare continued to grind Ponzinibbio before landing a solid right. The two fighters traded shots as the exciting opening frame came to a close.
When the second round began, LaFlare was looking to extend his lead. He was snapping crisp kicks and stalking Ponzinibbio down. He scored another takedown to land some good knees.
But Ponzinibbio was far from finished.
He unleashed a torrent of pinpoint punches that backed LaFlare up. For a moment it looked like he had LaFlare on the edge of being finished. Instead, LaFlare neutralized Ponzinibbio's striking with yet another takedown.
LaFlare appeared to be the fresher fighter as the final frame kicked off. He used a huge slam to gain dominant positioning on the ground. When the fight stood back up, LaFlare landed a huge knee that floored Ponzinibbio. He swarmed to finish on the mat, but Ponzinibbio's incredible toughness simply wouldn't allow it. Ponzinibbio even rocked LaFlare with a late uppercut and went for an omoplata on the ground.
It wasn't enough as LaFlare reversed the hold directly before the final bell sounded.
LaFlare took home the clear-cut unanimous decision. He showed high-volume striking coupled with dangerous takedowns and ground skill. It looks like he's a force to be reckoned with in the ultra-crowded UFC Welterweight division. He'll receive a much bigger name for his next fight. Someone near the bottom of the top twenty would be a good test for LaFlare's next trip to the Octagon.
For Ponzinibbio, it's unfortunate to lose your UFC debut, but he still showed a ton of courage. His heart and determination allowed him to persevere through the relentless onslaught LaFlare unleashed. He'll get another chance to prove himself in UFC.
Fighters who battle through adversity and put on rousing wars always earn the good graces of UFC brass. Still sitting at 19-2 overall, the Argentinian will go back to the drawing board and should come back as strong as ever. Dana White even said he can't wait to see Ponzinibbio's next fight.
Two exciting Welterweights prospects put on a great battle at UFC Fight Night 32. What does the future hold for promising up-and-comers Ryan LaFlare and Santiago Ponzinibbio?