Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight knockout artists Mike Perry and Santiago Ponzinibbio this Saturday (Dec. 16, 2017) at UFC on FOX 26 inside Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Canada.
Perry entered UFC on short-notice and quickly showed potential, battering a UFC veteran to an early stoppage. He’s suffered one defeat during his rise, but Perry is still extremely young in his career and showing new skills to go alongside his massive power. Ponzinibbio, meanwhile, is another hard-hitting Welterweight who has come a long way since his Octagon debut. His wrestling and grappling defense has been shored up, allowing him to really let his hands fly and climbed into the Top 10 as a result.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both athletes:
Key Wins: Jake Ellenberger (UFC Fight Night 108), Hyun Gyu Lim (UFC 202), Danny Roberts (UFC 204)
Key Losses: Alan Jouban (UFC on FOX 22)
Keys to Victory: Is Mike Perry a bit rough around the edges from a technical standpoint? Of course. Is he also a tremendously powerful athlete with very obvious natural instincts for violence? Absolutely. His rate of success is absolutely tremendous, as most UFC champions are picked up early in their pro careers, usually around year three or four.
Perry is five fights deep into his UFC career and just hit the three-year pro mark in September.
In this bout, Perry wants to close the distance and make this thing ugly. At range, his inexperience is more apparent, as Perry will lunge in with power strikes when a jab or kick would suit him better. In tight exchanges, however, Perry is remarkably accurate with brutal shots, and his clinch game is vicious as well.
Opposite Ellenberger, Perry showed the best range work of his career. In the first round, he landed more shots opposite the veteran, doing a lot of work with a switch-kick to the lead leg and body. He should make use of that kick and other methodical range strikes again, as Perry has to maneuver safely into the pocket before throwing heat.
Key Wins: Gunnar Nelson (UFC Fight Night 113), Sean Strickland (UFC Fight Night 61), Zak Cummings (UFC Fight Night 92), Nordine Taleb (UFC Fight Night 105)
Key Losses: Lorenz Larkin (UFC Fight Night 70), Ryan LaFlare (UFC Fight Night 32)
Keys to Victory: Ponzinibbio enters this bout on a five-fight win streak that includes a trio of knockout wins. His boxing has never looked sharper, as Ponzinibbio fires off crisp combinations of devastating shots.
In this bout, Ponzinibbio would be well-advised to avoid scrapping with Perry. Both men have the potential to knock the other out, but as the more technical man, Ponzinibbio has no incentive to risk his jawline unless forced to. Ponzinibbio has one of his division’s best jabs, one that can be thrown in a flash or with more impact behind it. Perry, meanwhile, is inconsistent with how he closes the distance and is often there to be hit.
If Ponzinibbio can establish the jab early, his life will be so much easier. It’s a lot harder to push forward when your nose is being smashed at every step, and Ponzinibbio can do big damage if given room to work from the outside. Plus, repeated jabs will lead to desperate attempts to jump forward from “Platinum,” which could be just the opening Ponzinibbio needs to land a kill shot.
Bottom Line: This is an excellent fight between two of the division’s nastiest punchers.
Perry is a star in the making. He’s risen extraordinarily fast despite less-than-ideal training circumstances, and he shows nothing but potential inside the Octagon. It’s impossible to say whether that potential will be fully realized, but Perry’s charisma and punching power are a formidable combination.
This is a huge test for Perry. He’s been given a high-ranking opponent on a big win streak who likes to stand-and-bang, which gives Perry his best shot at succeeding. A win puts Perry in the Top 10 and could set up a contender eliminator match with Darren Till. If Perry loses, he likely needs another year and a few fights before trying to break into the 170-pound upper echelon again.
As for Ponzinibbio, he’s likely fighting for that No. 1 contender’s match with Till. Perry may not be quite as high up as the Argentinian, but he’s a hyped prospect who could extend Ponzinibbio’s win streak to six. Ponzinibbio’s performances are the best of his career, and he’s at precisely the point — both in terms of age and career length — where he should be in his prime. Simply put, if Ponzinibbio is to contend for a title, now is very much the time to make a run.
With the stakes so high, a loss would definitely hurt. It’s not easy to rack up wins at 170 pounds, so the pressure builds for Ponzinibbio the longer his win streak grows.
At UFC on FOX 26, Mike Perry and Santiago Ponzinibbio will go to war. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?