On the UFC 269 PPV main card, the promotion’s #12 ranked welterweight, Geoff Neal, edged out the #14 ranked, Santiago Ponzinibbio, with a split decision. The fight was highly competitive, with both men landing quality punches and drawing blood from the other, but it was Neal who did more down the stretch to get the nod. This victory breaks up a two-fight losing skid for Neal.
The fight started out rather sticky, with both men struggling to find a groove. Ponzinibbio was warned several times in the opening round about his fingers being extended. Neal was landing the better strikes as the opening round grew on, and a little cut formed around the right eye of Ponzinibbio. Then an accidental cup kick from Neal brought a pause to the match. The fight resumed with low time, and Ponzinibbio threw an angry punching combo at the bell.
The second round saw more slow paced kickboxing, before Ponzinibbio switched gears and earned a takedown. Neal instantly shot back up to his feet, and Ponzinibbio started to get busy with his hands. He was throwing volume and connecting much more frequently than Neal was, finding success with his right hand to left hook. Ponzinibbio complained to the ref about an alleged eye poke, but the official called it a punch and no time out was awarded.
Neal got off to a strong start in the final frame, backing up Ponzinibbio with punches. Ponzinibbio was responding with the same right hand to left hook combo he was using all fight, and a cut appeared around the right eye of Neal. The fighters started going back and forth, digging deep and seeing who wanted it more. Neal was putting his punches together, building off of his jab with a fundamental cross.