A new contender emerged in the welterweight division when Santiago Ponzinibbio knocked out the highly touted Gunnar Nelson in the first round at UFC Glasgow. This marked Ponzinibbio’s 5th win in a row in a stacked welterweight division.
It didn’t come without controversy though as after the fight, (In a quotation extracted from MMA Fighting); Nelson mentioned that he had been poked in the eye which led to the knockout sequence.
“I don’t like to make excuses, but this is the truth, how I feel anyway, is I should have stopped the fight when I got poked,” Nelson said in the post fight press conference. “I should have stopped it then because I’m seeing two Ponzinibbios in front of me. And that was like that until I remember standing up and the fight was over.”
This led many people to discredit the Argentine’s impressive win which he wasn’t too happy about.
“I have 13 fights for the company counting my fights in TUF,” Ponzinibbio said. “I never did anything outside the regulation. If I had done something wrong, the UFC would not have given me the performance bonus of the night.”
The knockout win marked the 4th time Ponzinibbio has dispatched of his opponent in the first round in the UFC. He ate a clean shot from Nelson early that lit a fire under him.
“The truth is that the fights are like this, everything can happen,” Ponzinibbio explained. “I come to win. The first hand that caught me I got hurt and from there I got a fast knockout.”
Now ranked at number 9, he is gunning for the top 5. Originally eyeing Neil Magny, who is now booked versus Rafael dos Anjos, Ponzinibbio has his sights set on Carlos Condit.
“I wish I could fight with someone from the top 5,” Ponzinibbio said. “Condit is a good option at the end of the year. I feel very good physically, I am already training again.”
Ponzinibbio along with multiple Latin American fighters such as Junior dos Santos and Antonio Carlos Jr. have found a home at American Top Team in Florida.
Training alongside champions Amanda Nunes and Joanna Jedrzczyk as well as top contenders Yoel Romero and Jorge Masvidal, Ponzinibbio has plenty of elite fighters to help propel him to the top.
“ATT is an incredible team formed of great champions, I am in the right place to win my title.”
The move to the US has also allowed him to tap into another passion of his, this time behind the desk. The Argentine has been working with Fox Deportes doing UFC analysis and commentary in Spanish.
“I feel very good working for TV,” Ponzinibbio said. “I feel very comfortable in front of the camera and I like to be able to study the fighters.”
Analyst and top contender, the future is bright for the 30 year old. Having competed in Argentina for his first 7 professional fights, Ponzinibbio would like nothing more than to headline a UFC card in his home country.
While the UFC doesn’t have any solid plans of going to Argentina in the near future, Ponzinibbio believes it will happen eventually.
“I think the UFC is going to go to Argentina and it’s going to be a great success,” Ponzinibbio said. “The Argentines like the fights a lot.”
“I am very happy to be able to represent my country and open the doors of the sport, great athletes will come.”
And for someone who emerged from a country notoriously known for football, Ponzinibbio continues to break barriers.
“I am a warrior of life. I always look to surpass and to improve in all the aspects. That’s why I got there coming from a country that did not exist in sports and without resources.”