Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight scrappers Santiago Ponzinibbio and Zak Cummings will throw down this Saturday (Aug. 6, 2016) at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Ponzinibbio hasn’t managed to break into the rankings just yet, but he’s proven himself to be a rather tough out. Having won four of his last five bouts, Ponzinibbio is hoping to make another big statement in this bout. Similarly, Cummings has quietly gone 4-1 inside the Octagon, and he’s looking to break into the top tier of the division. Opposite another tough, rising Welterweight, this could be a big break for either man.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both athletes:
Key Wins: Sean Strickland (UFC Fight Night 61), Court McGee (UFC on FOX 19)
Key Losses: Lorenz Larkin (UFC Fight Night 70), Ryan LaFlare (UFC Fight Night 32)
Keys to Victory: Ponzinibbio is an aggressive knockout artist with 13 victories coming via knockout. Ponzinibbio's approach is pretty simply, as he stalks his opponent with measured pressure before unleashing punches in bunches.
It's worked pretty well thus far.
This bout will be a major test of Ponzinibbio's ability to strike with someone who is a serious takedown threat. Ponzinibbio faced a similar challenge in McGee, but the Argentinean fighter had such a massive edge in athleticism that it was hardly a factor.
Not the case in this match.
With the threat of both the takedown and his foes' punches in mind, Ponzinibbio needs to make sure his feet are underneath him while punching. Otherwise, he's leaving himself open to takedowns and counters by over-extending.
In addition, I'd like to see Ponzinibbio add more body punches into his attack. If he's lowered his level to dig into the midsection — which will help his usual pressure attack take over anyway — it will be far more difficult to catch him off-guard with a double leg.
Key Wins: Nicholas Dalby (UFC Fight Night 84), Dominique Steele (UFC on FOX 16)
Key Losses: Gunnar Nelson (UFC Fight Night 46)
Keys to Victory: Cummings is a well-rounded and large Welterweight. While he's known as a strong wrestler with a dangerous top game, Cummings' striking has carried him to his last two victories, as the Southpaw looks better than ever.
To defeat Ponzinibbio, Cummings cannot allow himself to be put on the defensive. While Cummings does have some skill at finding a home for counter punches — which will be valuable — he generally does well when imposing his own game plan.
To deter Ponzinibbio away from his constant offense, Cummings needs to land hard counter punches and threaten with takedowns. Once he has Ponzinibbio hesitating, even if just a bit, Cummings must take advantage and shift the momentum into his favor.
If Cummings is able to push forward, he should do quite well. He's the longer fighter and better wrestler, meaning he'll have plenty of options. Plus, Ponzinibbio is undoubtedly a swarming pressure fighter, and men like that rarely fight all that well on their back foot.
Bottom Line: It should be a very entertaining and competitive scrap between fighters looking to break into the top 15.
Both of these fighters are in very similar positions. Overall, they’ve been rather successful inside the UFC, winning a majority of their fights and a few in dominant fashion. However, since the Welterweight division is so stacked with high-level athletes, they still have some work to do in order to receive a spot in the top 15.
For either man, a win here likely won’t be enough. However, it could very likely earn him a match opposite a ranked opponent.
A loss would be quite a setback. Both fighters are deep into their careers and are not young prospects; this is very likely close to as good as they’ll ever be. The loser who falters here will be back at the end of the line, and it will be quite difficult to climb the ladder once more.
At UFC Fight Night 92, Santiago Ponzinibbio and Zak Cummings will battle. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?