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‘Leave Messi be’ - Ponzinibbio calls out Canelo over recent messages to soccer star

Santiago Ponzinibbio is ready and willing to defend his fellow Argentinian Lionel Messi against Canelo Alvarez if that’s what it comes down to.

Santiago Ponzinibbio is set to face Robbie Lawler at UFC 282.
Santiago Ponzinibbio is set to face Robbie Lawler at UFC 282.
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

UFC welterweight Santiago Ponzinibbio is ready to defend his country’s honor, no matter the sport. Following recent comments from Canelo Alvarez, who criticized Lionel Messi’s celebration after beating Mexico’s side in the World Cup, the MMA fighter seems to have taken the boxer’s threats personally.

Although Canelo’s tweet has been deleted, it was up long enough for many people to see it, Ponzinibbio included. After Alvarez told Messi that he should “ask God that I don’t find him,” the ATT talent was ready to step up and take on the Super Middleweight champion to defend Messi and his home country of Argentina.

“I was pissed,” Ponzinibbio told MMA Fighting about Canelo’s message. “No point threatening Messi. Everybody knows Messi’s career. If [Alvarez] doesn’t know he shouldn’t say a thing. It’s normal for players to throw jerseys on the ground, they are all sweaty, but he didn’t do anything disrespectful. Everybody that knows Messi knows he’s an impeccable athlete and a very respectful person,”

“[Messi] had an excellent match,” Ponzinibbio continued. “I was upset. Brother, if you want to fight, I’m ready, but leave Messi be. You mess with Messi, you mess with the entire Argentina. Don’t bother the kid.”

Currently in a losing skid, Ponzinibbio (28-6) dropped a couple of split decisions to Michel Pereira and Geoff Neal in his last two outings. The 36-year-old’s most recent win took place in June 2021, when he defeated Miguel Baeza via unanimous decision.

At the moment, Ponzinibbio is expected to take on former champion Robbie Lawler, at UFC 282, on December 10, in Las Vegas. The card is scheduled to be headlined by a light heavyweight bout for the vacant title, between former title-holder Jan Blachowicz and rising contender Magomed Ankalaev.