Possessing an impressive record of 18-1, Ponzinibbio will make his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut. He's won his last seven mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts in a row, finishing every single fight. The momentum of his win streak should give him a ton of confidence heading into the biggest bout of his life.
Across the Octagon, LaFlare will await. He racked up a 7-0 record in Ring of Combat, also finishing each one of his foes. LaFlare recently made his UFC debut with a decision win over Ben Alloway at UFC on FUEL TV 9 back in April.
Although little hype surrounds either fighter, they both possess an extreme talent for finishing fights with ruthless efficiency. Ponzinibbio and LaFlare will both be looking to make a big statement in Goiania.
An emphatic finish would definitely accomplish that goal.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Ryan LaFlare:
Record: 18-1 overall, 0-0 UFC
Key Wins: None
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Ponzinibbio is a relentless striker with 10 knockout wins to his name. That doesn't mean that he's one-dimensional as he also has six submission wins. With finishes in 16 out of 18 fights, Ponzinibbio has the kind of exciting style that UFC brass loves.
But he could get a case of Octagon jitters in Goiania.
This is the biggest fight of his life. The Brazilian crowd will be roaring in full support of him and that could help or hurt him on Saturday. To win, he'll have to let the energy of the crowd motivate him rather than freeze him up.
If he can keep calm, Ponzinibbio will implement his dangerous all-around skill set Both he and LaFlare are able to end a fight in an instant, so it's Ponzinibbio's job to make sure he is first to the punch. Speed will be paramount in this bout. Even being a split second late could spell doom.
If and when the fight hits the ground, Ponzinibbio has the submission skills to submit LaFlare in destructive fashion. Ponzinibbio has often shown an arsenal of lethal chokes on the mat.
However, his power striking is his true go-to skill. His lightning-fast punches and headkicks put fighters to sleep. Nothing would please the Brazilian crowd more than to see him do it again.
If Ponzinibbio lets his hands go in an intelligent manner, a successful UFC debut will be within reach.
Record: 8-0 overall, 1-0 UFC
Key Wins: Ben Alloway (UFC on FUEL TV 9)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: LaFlare doesn't mess around when he gets in the cage. His undefeated record is a testament to that. The only fight he didn't finish was his UFC debut in Sweden.
The Long Island-born LaFlare has effective striking that is on par with Ponzinibbio's. He has four knockout finishes in eight fights. If he lands a clean shot on Ponzinibbio's chin, he could have five.
Ponzinibbio is a touted prospect with a ton of potential, but he's never fought in UFC.
Having his Octagon debut out of the way will pay off in spades for LaFlare. Despite the raucous Brazilian crowd being against him, LaFlare should be able to keep his emotions in check much easier than Ponzinibbio. There'll be much less pressure on LaFlare and he needs to capitalize on that fact.
When the fight turns to grappling, LaFlare will look to use his killer armbar to end Ponzinibbio's night. It has worked three times before, but it's the only submission that LaFlare has stopped a fight with. If Ponzinibbio has done his homework he'll know this. It would be in LaFlare's best interest to have diversified his submission game prior to UFN 32.
He's never really been in danger on the ground throughout his career. It'll be interesting to see how he responds when met with adversity. We may never get the chance given LaFlare's alarming finishing rate.
LaFlare has fewer fights than his opponent, but he's on a roll. That, coupled with his small amount of UFC experience, should give him the mental acuity needed to send Ponzinibbio packing.
Bottom Line from Goiania: The bottom line here is that this is an unpredictable fight. You don't see too many UFC bouts where both fighters are dangerous finishers with a combined total of one Octagon bout between them. Because each fighter can end a fight so quickly, there's going to be a high element of chance involved in Goiania.
Ponzinibbio and LaFlare have lengthy win streaks intact. The fighter most willing to put all of that hard work on the line will be the one who gains the finish at UFN 32. It's unlikely that this fight will end with a decision unless either fighter comes out nervous and fights tentatively.
That's far from either combatant's style.
This fight has the potential to kick the main card into high gear with an exciting knockout or submission. It also features two welterweights who may be at the outset of very promising UFC careers.
While it's unfortunate that one of them has to have their momentum derailed in Goiania, that's just the fight game. This bout will be an under-the-radar candidate for "Fight of the Night," and could put the winner on the map in a hugely talented division.
Santiago Ponzinibbio faces a tough challenge in his first trip to the Octagon in Ryan LaFlare. Will the Brazilian deliver for his home country fans, or does LaFlare stay undefeated in Goiania?