Santiago Ponzinibbio isn’t exactly a household name in mixed martial arts (MMA)...yet.
For the Welterweight fighter, getting the opportunity to headline his first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event later today (Sun., July 16, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 113 in Glasgow, Scotland opposite Gunnar Nelson is a chance to change all of that.
And if you think Ponzinibbio is just showing up to be a stepping stone for “Gunni,” you have another thing coming.
"Some people might think I’m being put there to lose to Gunnar Nelson,” he said in a recent interview with MMA Fighting. "But those who understand about this sport know that I’m coming off four wins with two first-round knockouts and two decision wins in my opponents’ backyards. No one has given me anything, I've earned this. After this fight, they will realize I deserved to be in this main event. Every single one of my UFC fights were exciting."
Riding high with his aforementioned four straight wins which includes two finishes via strikes, Santiago is confident he can stop Nelson. And if he does, he believes his dreams of fighting for a UFC title will be even closer.
"I see myself knocking him out. I see myself finishing him. I’m ready to finish this fight. I believe I have the potential to knock him out, but if I can’t finish him, I’ll win a decision,” he added.
"I have all the qualities and the tools to become a world champion,” he said. "I believe in that. God and the UFC will decide when that will happen, but I’m ready. After this win, I will be really close to the belt. Five straight wins, beating the No. 8, I believe that puts me close to the belt."
Furthermore, Ponzinibbio knows a win over Gunnar will likely secure him a top spot at UFC’s upcoming planned event in South America later this year. For now, though, Santiago has all of his focus on Nelson.
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