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Santiago
Ponzinibbio
sounds like someone in lockstep with
Ultimate Fighting Championship
matchmakers.

The longtime welterweight standout will take on Michel
Pereira
in the
UFC Fight Night 206
co-main event on Saturday at the UFC Apex
in Las Vegas, where he seeks to avoid back-to-back losses for the
first time in his 14-year career. Still a Top 15-ranked competitor at
170 pounds
, Ponzinibbio understands the thinking behind the
pairing.

“I think it’s excellent matchmaking,” he told Sherdog.com. “He’s a
spectacular, fun fighter. He’s the sport’s most impressive fighter.
There’s never been anyone before doing what he does in the Octagon.
I’m loving this matchup. I don’t care much about rankings. They
don’t usually make much sense. I’ve had good results. I’ve been
doing good work. It’s a very interesting fight for the fans of the
sport, considering his style and mine.”

Ponzinibbio likes the extra attention Pereira brings to the
table.

“We’ll have a great fight,” he said. “Since he has such a great
media presence, this bout may be even more important than one
against someone who’s already ranked. I’m very happy with this
challenge. I know he’s dangerous and versatile. I prepared for
that. I worked hard.”

A finalist on Season 2 of “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil,”
Ponzinibbio has compiled a 10-4 record across his 14 appearances in
the UFC. His run includes wins over Sean
Strickland
, Court McGee,
Gunnar
Nelson
and Mike Perry.
Ponzinibbio last fought at UFC 269, where he wound up on the wrong
side of a split decision against
Dana White’s Contender Series
graduate Geoff Neal on
Dec. 11. He spent the ensuing months attempting to correct his
flaws at
American Top Team
in Coconut Creek, Florida, where he trains
under a host of world-class trainers, from Conan Silveira, Marcos da
Matta
to Steve
Mocco
, Vitelmo
Kubis Bandeira
and Gabriel
de Oliveira
.

Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you
can then stream UFC Fight Night 206 “Holm vs. Vieira” live on your
smart TV, computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN
app.

“I’m very well-trained,” said Ponzinibbio, who leaned on
stablemates Handesson
Ferreira
and Glaico
Franca
to emulate Pereira’s unorthodox style. “I feel I’m very
well-prepared.”

Pereira enters the cage on the strength of a four-fight winning
streak. The acrobatic 28-year-old last fought on Jan. 22, when he
outpointed Andre
Fialho
to a unanimous decision at UFC 270. Pereira has momentum
on his side—a reality not lost on the seasoned and experienced
Ponzinibbio.

“I believe that a good win against him can catapult me back to the
top of the division,” he said. “My goal is to get even closer to
the title. I’m excited to represent Argentina and Latin America
again. I’m very happy with this opportunity.”

Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you
can then stream UFC Fight Night 206 “Holm vs. Vieira” live on your
smart TV, computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN
app.


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