UFC Argentina Matchmaker: The Time is Now for Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Darren Till
With such a packed holiday schedule, UFC Fight Night Buenos Aires sort of fell to the wayside when it came to pre-event hype but the UFC’s inaugural event in Argentina far exceeded expectations, churning out a highly entertaining event filled to the brim with brutal knockouts, slick submissions, and great contests throughout. The Main Event saw Santiago Ponzinibbio do his home country proud in a systematic beatdown of Neil Magny in the Main Event. Now that the dust has cleared from another spectacular night of fights, let’s see what may be next for the winners and losers on this edition of The Post-Fight Matchmaker:
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Darren Till: Santiago Ponzinibbio extended his win streak to seven straight and has undoubtedly earned the chance at a top-five opponent. A fight with a fellow striker in Darren Till would make for a great matchup between two of the division’s best. A win here for Ponzinibbio likely earns him a title shot.
Ricardo Lamas vs. Zabit Magomedsharipov: Ricardo Lamas bounced back from back-to-back losses with a dominant win over Darren Elkins. A fight with Zabit would tell us whether the long in the tooth veteran has another title run in him. For Zabit, this is a chance to step into the UFC with a perennial top fifteen fighter and true veteran of the sport, something he has yet to do inside of the UFC.
Johnny Walker vs. Nikita Krylov: Johnny Walker became an instant talking point of UFC Argentina with a brutal elbow KO over Khalil Rountree coupled with a quirky walkout and post-fight interview. Walker is a welcome newcomer to a division devoid of talent. A fight with Nikita Krylov gives Walker a chance to quickly and violently break into the top fifteen.
Ian Heinisch vs. Alessio Di Chirico: Heinisch was only interested in talking about top fifteen fights after his win over Mutante but I think he’ll have to prove himself a bit more before we get to that point. Alessio Di Chirico is coming off of a couple nice wins and presents an interesting matchup for the DWTNCS alum as he campaigns toward the top fifteen.
Marlon Vera vs. Sean O’Malley: After a rocky start to his fight with Guido Cannetti, Marlon Vera bounced back violently in the second round, bloodying up his opponent with strikes before moving in for the fight finishing choke. Time after time Vera has proved to be an exciting fight regardless of who he’s up against. A fight with popular up and comer Sean O’Malley would be no different.
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Cortney Casey: To add insult to injury following Calvillo’s first career loss, the Team Alpha Male product was slapped with USADA sanctions following a positive test for Marijuana. In her first appearance back in the octagon, Calvillo impressed despite a scary weight-miss taking home a first-round submission win. She called out Michelle Waterson but I feel she’ll have to work her way back into that level of competition. A fight with Cortney Casey will help us better gauge where she currently stands.
Michel Prazeres vs. Neil Magny: Neil Magny failed at providing any sort of resistance to the onslaught that was Santiago Ponzinibbio. A fight with the quiet but surging welterweight Michel Prazeres would make for an interesting matchup considering the major height disparity. Prazeres has fallen under the radar but has put together an impressive eight fight win streak.
Neil Magny vs. Michel Prazeres: See Above.
Darren Elkins vs. Doo Ho Choi: Darren Elkins’ incredible endurance gave way to the patient aggression of Ricardo Lamas and after an inspiring run at featherweight now finds himself staring at back-to-back losses. He’ll likely fight outside of the top fifteen but a matchup with Doo Ho Choi would be a lot of fun. Choi is a bright prospect that has suffered a few recent loses and is looking to get back on track.
Khalil Rountree vs. Sam Alvey: Rountree failed to follow up on his spectacular KO over Gokhan Saki and likely lost his shot at earning a top fifteen fight. A fight with a savvy veteran coming off of a loss like Sam Alvey would make sense. Two fighters who prefer to stand and trade slugging it out to see who gets to remain relevant.
Cezar Mutante vs. Oskar Piechota: Cezar Mutante failed to string together a third win in a row and the top fifteen evades him once more. He can find himself right back in the conversation with a win over a bright prospect like Piechota. Piechota has only one career loss and has looked impressive throughout his short UFC tenure.
Guido Cannetti vs. Aiemann Zahabi: Guido Cannetti had the home crowd on his side but couldn’t get the job done against Vera. He falls to 2-2 in the UFC and is likely fighting for his job here, as may be Aiemann Zahabi, brother of famed coach of Tri-Star who lost his UFC debut in highlight reel fashion last year. The loser of this fight is likely looking for work elsewhere.
Poliana Botelho vs. Hannah Cifers: Botelho’s fight with Calvillo didn’t go her way as she was doomed as soon as the fight hit the canvas. A fight with a brawler like Cifers is more Botelho’s style and would make for an entertaining slugfest.
Bartosz Fabinski vs. Zak Cummings: A battle between two fighters who had their momentum halted by the tree trunk of a welterweight that is Michel Prazeres. One gets back on track here.