In 2017, Argentina’s Santiago Ponzinibbio burst into welterweight title contention with a decision defeat of Nordine Taleb, an 82-second knockout of Gunnar Nelson, and a thrilling decision triumph over “Platinum” Mike Perry. Unfortunately, he’s yet to fight in 2018 thanks to a serious hand injury that ultimately required surgery.
While 2018 has not been particularly kind to Santiago Ponzinibbio thus far, things are definitely looking up. With his surgery in the rear-view and his health back to 100%, he’s been booked for a high-stakes showdown with long-time contender Neil Magny. And that’s not where the good news ends. The fight will go down in the main event of the UFC’s first-ever trip to Ponzinibbio’s homeland of Argentina.
As you can probably imagine, Santiago Ponzinibbio is tremendously excited for this fight on home turf.
“First time in history the UFC moves to Argentina,” Ponzinibbio said on the latest episode of BJPENN.COM Radio. “[I’m] really excited for the opportunity. [It’s] a dream for me, you know, to have the main event, the principal fight for the UFC, the best company in the world.”
“I am recovered 100%. I feel good. My health is good.”
Now that he’s healthy, Santiago Ponzinibbio is excited to fight an opponent of Magny’s caliber — a fighter he believes has proven himself to be one of the best in the world.
“For my career, for my victories, he is a big name,” Ponzinibbio said of Magny. “He beat two ex-champs: Johny Hendricks, Carlos Condit. He has good victories. He beat Kelvin Gastelum, Hector Lombard, good names. These are good names. Magny has a lot of victories in the division.”
“He has a little bit of everything, you know,” Ponzinibbio continued, discussing Magny’s game. “A little bit striking, a little bit grapple. He’s good in everything. But, you know, I don’t care what [my opponents] have, what is the plan [for] him.”
“When I go to the cage I go to finish and also [execute] my strategy and that’s it, man. I’ll take this victory.”
Ahead of this crucial showdown in Argentina, Santiago Ponzinibbio isn’t just confident he can win, he’s confident he can score a finish.
“I think Magny is a great fighter,” he said. “He has a lot of victories in the welterweight division. He beat tough names in the division, but, for sure, I am better than him, and I will finish this guy, man.”
If he’s able to defeat Neil Magny in Argentina, Santiago Ponzinibbio believes he’ll have done enough to warrant a welterweight title shot.
“If my victory is clear, I prove I am ready for the belt,” he said. “I beat Magny on November 17, I am ready for the belt.”
“I am ready for the belt. I just, I need the opportunity.”
While Santiago Ponzinibbio feels he’ll be deserving of a title shot with a win over Magny, he’s prepared to keep a busy schedule in 2019 to make his claim undeniable.
“This year was crazy,” he continued. “I never had an injury [before], but, you know, I had an injury in the start of the year and after that when I felt ready for August, September, I then talked with UFC and UFC say to me ‘no, I need to wait until November for Argentina.'”
“This is the past. I have the fight in November. Maybe January, February [I fight again], before I fight for the belt. No title no problem, I fight, I work, I continue my way.”
Do you think we’ll see Santiago Ponzinibbio fight for the UFC welterweight title in the future?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/20/2018.