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In the Welterweight division, we have a showdown between Geoff ‘Handz of Steel’ Neal and Santiago ‘Argentine Dagger’ Ponzinibbio. Coming into this fight on a two-fight skid, Neal will need to right the ship in this fight. Currently ranked 12th in the Welterweight division, a loss would not only see Neal exit the rankings, but a long ways away from fighting for the coveted Welterweight Championship. Meanwhile, Ponzinibbio comes into this fight off a victory over Miguel Baeza. A fight in which the Argentinian was dominated in round one, only to comeback and land a combined 106 of the 121 significant strikes landed in the next two rounds. The victory was Ponzinbbio’s eleventh in the UFC and eighth in the last nine.
One has to wonder, if Santiago Ponzinibbio was healthy during his rise up the Welterweight ranks, could he have contended for the title? He had won seven straight fights in a span of nearly three years. He defeated notables such as Neil Magny, Gunnar Nelson, Mike Perry and Zak Cummings. And, Ponzinibbio was as high as 7th in the Welterweight rankings. While injuries ultimately cost him two years of action, and perhaps rust had something to do with his winning streak being halted against Li Jingliang, Ponzinibbio is back on track and ranked in the top fifteen once again. A striker to the core, Ponzinibbio features an excellent jab. With solid cardio, the ability to push a hard pace and volume, Ponzinibbio can be a handful to deal with on the feet. As for Geoff Neal, he too is a striker. A more violent and powerful one at that, as he has won eight of his thirteen wins via knockout. With a diverse striking arsenal, Neal has proven that his hands aren’t the only thing made of steel, his legs are too. As evidenced by the two head kick knockouts in two of his four victories in the UFC.
As for a prediction, I have Neal winning. While I do worry about his cardio and at times, his volume, this fight feels more suited for Neal than his previous two-fights. Ponzinibbio is not one to grapple like Neil Magny and the Argentinian is not the elusive and tricky striker like Stephen Thomson. He’s talented on the feet, but open to getting hit. Absorbing 4.38 significant strikes per minute and 104 in his most recent fight, Ponzinibbio is getting hit a little too much for my taste. Against someone as powerful as Neal, that won’t fly. So with that said, I predict that Neal wins via knockout.