Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight knockout artists Santiago Ponzinibbio and Mike Perry dueled last night (Dec. 16, 2017) at UFC on FOX 26 inside the Bell MTS Center in Winnipeg, Canada.
It took a few fights for Ponzinibbio to find his footing, but since then the Argentinian has strung together five straight victories and rose into the top 10. This was a guaranteed firefight for Ponzinibbio, who was hoping to push into the title mix with one more win.
A raw but extraordinary talent, Perry has scored four brutal knockouts opposite a single defeat inside the Octagon. This was a big step up for the Flint, Michigan native, but it was also a good match up for the power puncher.
Ponzinibbio looked to circle away from Perry at the start, which caused “Platinum” to stalk with kicks. “Gente Boa” answered with low kicks of his own, but few punches were exchanged in the opening minutes.
Perry landed his first strong right hand with 90 seconds remaining, and it stunned his opponent a bit. Perry pursued, and the two began to trade more in the pocket at a higher rate. Both men landed, but Perry’s strikes seemed to have a greater effect. Ponzinibbio returned to his outside work after a slip saw him briefly take top position, but he wasn’t able to land much before the bell.
It wasn’t a very active round, but Perry’s moments were strongest.
Perry came out a bit sloppy in the second, but he still landed a left hook that put Santiago on the defensive. He followed up with a nice takedown but couldn’t hold his foe down, and Ponzinibbio’s jab began to find a home when the pair returned to their feet.
Ponzinibbio’s low leg kick was also doing damage, and he landed a big flurry of his own at the midway point in the round. Ponzinibbio was too tired to keep up his movement, but his tighter punches saw him land the better shots in the heated exchanges. It was sharp work from “Gente Boa,” but it came at a cost, as both men wore a ton of damage by the end of the round.
Heading into the third, the scorecards were likely tied, and both men were bloody and worn. Is there anything better?
The two bruisers picked up where they left off, trading heavy shots right as the round began. Perry continued to pressure, a both men landed as a result. A spinning back fist from Ponzinibbio caught Perry unawares and dropped him. Perry worked back up quickly, but Ponzinibbio capitalized with a pair of takedowns to briefly ground Perry.
Nevertheless, the two were trading with two minutes remaining. Ponzinibbio scored a big combination to raise Perry hands and landed an easy takedown. Ponzinibbio smartly hung around in half guard and made Perry’s life difficult, giving “Platinum” no easy path to his feet.
Perry returned to his feet with 20 seconds remaining, but the bout was already over.
Ponzinibbio did his best to fight smart even if things didn’t always work out that way. From the outside, he did a great job of limiting Perry’s mobility with the leg kick, which was perhaps his most important weapon. His jab was also on display, and while Perry slipped many of them, the follow up power shots — namely the left hook — landed more frequently because of the jab.
Technical advantages aside, things were tied up heading into the third. Perry had some momentum behind him, closing the second with some heavy shots and beginning the third with success. Just as Perry seemed to be retaking control, the backfist won Ponzinibbio the fight. It stunned Perry badly and put him on his back, where Perry had to expend most of his remaining energy to return to his feet.
Following this win, Ponzinibbio should square off with Darren Till in another great striking match.
Perry came up short, but as a big fan of “Platinum,” I feel fairly encouraged by his development. Compared to his other decision loss to Alan Jouban, this was a far smarter showing from Perry. His head movement has improved quite a bit, which allowed him to find his way inside more consistently. In addition, Perry did a great job of mixing targets with his kicks, punishing his opponent’s mid-section quite a bit with heavy kicks.
This was a back-and-forth brawl, and Perry showed more of his skills than ever before. His opponent won because of a well-timed back fist and veteran experience, something that comes with having twice the amount of professional fights. Perry did not look out of place opposite the division’s No. 10 contender, which is an accomplishment on its own.
There’s definitely a lot to improve upon though. Perry placed himself along the fence too willingly, which has little benefit from a striking standpoint and gave his foe easy takedowns. Additionally, the low kicks plagued Perry, and he needs to figure out an answer before the division picks up on it.
Nonetheless, if Perry continues developing at this rate, he’ll be among those ranks within a year.
Last night, Santiago Ponzinibbio outlasted his foe in a wild brawl. What’s next for “Gente Boa?”
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