UFC welterweight contender, Santiago Ponzinibbio, along with Dana White’s Contender Series product, Miguel Baeza turned in a Fight of the Night display at UFC Vegas 28 on Saturday night, and off the back of the Argentine’s rallying unanimous decision victory, he claims he’s open to what would be an “exciting” South American clash against Vicente Luque.
Making his second Octagon walk of the year, La Plata native, Ponzinibbio was tasked with rebounding from his first UFC loss following an eye-catching seven-fight run, after he dropped an opening round knockout defeat to Li Jingliang at UFC on ABC 1 on ‘Fight Island’ in January.
Meeting with the undefeated, 10-0, Baeza on the main card of UFC Vegas 28 on Saturday in an anticipated showdown, the Argentinian suffered from some notable lead leg issues from the opening round onwards, as Baeza chopped with leg kicks to Ponzinibbio’s orthodox lead on cue throughout the frame.
Starting to turn the pace up from the sound round onwards, Ponzinibbio began to extend his lead in the fight in the closing minutes of the third round, with both men trading largely in the pocket for the majority of the frame, however, it was the former’s pressing jab and overall accuracy with his hooks with posed several lofty questions to the will of Baeza, which came in abundance.
Forced to the judge’s scorecards, an emotional Ponzinibbio scored his first Octagon victory since a UFC Fight Night Buenos Aires main event in November of 2018 where he knocked out Neil Magny — edging out Baeza with a 29-28 (x3) unanimous decision performance.
Appearing at the post-fight press conference following UFC Vegas 28, Ponzinibbio suggested a couple of potential opponents for his next Octagon walk, including the likes of the loser between Stephen Thompson and Gilbert Burns who clash at UFC 264 on July 10th. — as well as an eye-catching showdown against New Jersey-born finisher, Luque.
“I’d really like to get back to the rankings,” Ponzinibbio said. “They give me tough a guy. Maybe, Vicente Luque, he’s (doing) very well, we can do an exciting fight. I respect him a lot. I think we can do a great fight. Maybe the guy that loses between Stephen Thompson and Gilbert Burns. For the guy that’s going to win, (they’re) probably going to go to the belt. The guy that loses between them is a really good fight for me.“
“Show the world I am back,” Ponzinibbio explained. “I can be champion of the world. I can stay with the best fighters in the world. For sure, I’m going to do an exciting fight again.“
Before Ponzinibbio’s return to the Octagon at the beginning of the year in Abu Dhabi, UAE — Luque had produced seven Octagon walks himself since the Argentine’s knockout success over Magny — lodging a very impressive 6-1 record overall.
Taking wins over the likes of Bryan Barberena, Mike Perry, Niko Price, Randy Brown, as well as a high-profile Brabo choke win over former welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley at UFC 260 in March — the 29-year-old has only faltered against the above-mentioned Simponsville native, Thompson in that time frame, and currently holds the #5 rank at 170lbs.
Saturday’s win over Baeza comes at Ponzinibbio’s 28th. professionally, and his 10th. in the UFC, following prior successes against the likes of Sean Strickland, Zak Cummings, Gunnar Nelson, and the aforenoted, Perry.