After a long layoff and a disappointing knockout defeat in his return, UFC welterweight Santiago Ponzinibbio sounds like he’s eager to return to his winning ways in the Octagon. Paired up against up-and-comer Miguel Baeza for an intriguing contest at UFC Vegas 28, the Argentinian seems intent on creating an impressive performance—one that willshow the rest of the division that he’s still a contender.
In an interview with Super Lutas, Ponzinibbio explained just how the loss to Jingliang affected him. After being away from the Octagon for 26 months, ‘Gente Boa’ admitted that he’d never lost in such devastating fashion. But he’s hoping to use that moment as motivation to come back stronger than ever against Baeza.
“I had never lost like that before,” Ponzinibbio explained. “It was a rollercoaster of emotions. It was hard, but once again in my life, I used my adversities as motivation, in order to keep evolving as an athlete and show myself and the world that I have what it takes to be a world champion. No matter what happens. Be it a loss, an injury, I’ll use it to give me more energy. There’s no other way. It’s how I live my life.”
Matched up against a a fast rising prospect - who finished all of his three UFC outings, including seasoned veteran Matt Brown - the ATT trained fighter expects an intense battle. Although Ponzinibbio knows that his opponent is a slick striker, he promises that the night will end badly for ‘Caramel Thunder’ should he try to trade shots on Saturday.
“It’s another good fight to watch. The fans will like both of our styles. I’ll show my best version yet. To me, it’s good to face a prospect who has been doing well now. So people can understand that I’m here to be a world champion. If he wants to stand and strike for 15 minutes, he’s going to get really hurt and feel a lot of pain. It’s up to him. I’m going out there to end him.”
Ponzinibbio’s last fight marked a long struggle to recover from both injuries and illness. The defeat, at the hands of Li Jingliang, snapped a seven-fight winning streak for the 34-year-old—one that included wins over notable names, such as Neil Magny, Gunnar Nelson and Mike Perry.
Ponzinibbio vs. Baeza is expected to take place on the main card of UFC Vegas 28, on June 5, at the UFC Apex, in Las Vegas. The card is scheduled to be headlined by a heavyweight bout between contenders Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Augusto Sakai.