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Santiago Ponzinibbio facing improbable return at UFC Fight Island 7: ‘My doctor said I could never fight again’

UFC Fight Night Holloway v Kattar: Weigh-Ins Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Streaking welterweight Santiago Ponzinibbio will be looking to make up for lost time tomorrow afternoon (Sat., Jan. 16, 2021) at UFC Fight Island 7 live on ABC/ESPN+ from inside Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., as he takes on Li Jingliang in main card action.

Ponzinibbio, who hasn’t competed since a knockout win over Neil Magny over two years ago, didn’t even know if he’d return to fighting. He had to battle through a nasty staph infection back in 2019 and some additional setbacks to put himself back in a position to compete under the bright lights of the UFC’s Octagon.

Now healthy, Ponzinibbio is looking to put the past two years behind him and put his seven-fight win streak to the ultimate test in 2021.

“In 2020 I worked really hard to become the athlete I used to be again,” Ponzinibbio recently told Combate. “The infection left me with many side effects. At one point, my doctor said I could never fight again in my life. Then he said my knee could have been ruined forever, because I was in so much pain. I had to deal with all of that mentally.”

With his injuries woes behind him Ponzinibbio will have another opportunity to prove he’s one of the best welterweights on the UFC roster and disprove those ‘bullsh-t’ rankings he hates so much. Luckily, Jingliang is going to play right into Ponzinibbio’s strengths on the feet and give the veteran a chance to score yet another memorable UFC finish.

“I want to throw down, it doesn’t matter who is it going to be against,” said Ponzinibbio. “Just put a body in front of me. Let’s make weight and brawl. The change was no problem, I just want to show my work. No matter the fighter, I’ll win. I’ll knock him out and show the world and I’m the next champion in my division. My gameplan is to punch him in the face, make him feel a lot of pain, until he cannot take it anymore. I hope God allows me to stay healthy and fight as many times as I can this year. I want to fight every two months and make up for the time I lost. All I want to do in 2021 is fight.”

Ponzinibbio, 34, will extend his current UFC win streak to eight with a win over Jingliang this weekend on “Fight Island.” That should lead to a shot at a top 10 welterweight his next time out assuming “Gente Boa” can stay healthy. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Island 7 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches at 12 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ and ABC at 3 p.m. ET.

For more UFC Fight Island 7 fight card news click here.

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