Argentinian welterweight Santiago Ponzinibbio has quietly amassed a 17-3 career record (6-2 in the UFC) but when he makes the walk to the cage to face Gunnar Nelson in the main event of July’s UFC event in Glasgow, Scotland, the Argentine faces a challenge unlike any he has experienced thus far in his UFC tenure.
Ponzinibbio has defeated the likes of Nordine Taleb, Court McGee and Zak Cummings (a common opponent he shares with Nelson) during his recent run. With a record which boasts 13 career knockouts, most would assume that the most likely route to victory for Ponzinibbio would be to keep the fight on the feet and let his fists fly, though this was also the primary strategies employed by Nelson’s previous victims Alan Jouban, Albert Tumenov and Brandon Thatch before they were summarily taken to the floor and choked.
Ponzinibbio sees himself as a different type of challenge for the Icelander too. Speaking with MMAFighting, he said that he could even see himself submitting the Icelandic grappling ace — something which even Demian Maia failed to do in the 15 minutes of cagetime that they shared.
“I was already expecting a big fight. I’m coming off four wins with two first-round knockouts and two unanimous decisions in my opponent’s homes, so I knew I’d be fighting for something bigger,” Ponzinibbio said to MMAFighting of being paired up with Nelson.
“I expected an important fight now, and I’m happy to be in a main event against a good athlete like Gunnar Nelson. He has a good history in the UFC.”
“I know I have knockout power,” he added. “I’ll be ready for five rounds if I need to, but a knockout or a submission is the consequence. If the win comes earlier, great. I’ll have the perfect strategy. This is MMA, not jiu-jitsu. It’s a different sport. I have great jiu-jitsu coaches and training partners, and I train jiu-jitsu for years. My jiu-jitsu is tight, it’s on point. I don’t worry what he’s good at. If he gives me an opening, I’ll catch him.”
Nelson is considered to be one of the best submission artists in all of the UFC, so Ponzinibbio is setting quite the high bar for himself with that particular claim.
The two will meet at UFC Glasgow on July 16th next.