Leading up to UFC Argentina, Santiago Ponzinibbio repeatedly argued that a win on Saturday should deliver him a title shot. So, now that the surging welterweight has added another memorable victory to his record, will that happen?
Ponzinibbio took on fellow contender Neil Magny in the main event, in and proceeded to knock the rugged fighter out in round four. It was a big win for Ponzinibbio, as the victory extended his winning streak to 7, and it moved his overall UFC record to a very impressive, 9-2. Not only that, but Ponzinibbio scored a victory in the headliner of an event, which was largely built around the Argentinean fighter.
Well, following the event, the dangerous fighter called out Tyron Woodley again, and the champ responded by telling Ponzinibbio to “keep winning”. He also noted that there are other fighters ahead of him in the ranks.
When Ponzinibbio was asked to respond to Woodley’s take, he said the following (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“In regards to Woodley, I understand fully why he says that, he wants to hold on to his title as long as possible,” Ponzinibbio said, via a translator. “He knows that if he does fight me, I’m going to knock him out, I’m going to take it. So he wants to keep extending his reign for as long as he can and that’s why he keeps saying that I still have a long way to go.”
“…I think I deserve a top-five fight and I think after tonight’s victory I might climb to that position. As for a title shot, I’m looking for that all the way, maybe it will be one more fight before that, but that’s my objective going forward.”
So, there’s a couple of things to look at here. First off, is Woodley saying these things in an effort to prolong his reign and avoid fighting Ponzinibbio? That’s pretty unlikely. After all, we’re talking about a guy who has faced and defeated many, very dangerous fighters during his UFC run (Stephen Thompson, Robbie Lawler, Darren Till etc). So, Woodley’s likely not short on confidence, in terms of his ability to defeat Ponzinibbio.
As far as Ponzinibbio’s current title shot case, Woodley’s also right, in so far that the fighter likely does need to win another bout. The expectation is that Woodley is going to face rival Colby Covington next. If Ponzinibbio was sitting in say, the #2 spot at 170, then maybe he could wait on the sidelines and wait for the winner.
But when you consider he was ranked #10 prior to this weekend, and that Kamaru Usman has a pivotal bout with Rafael dos Anjos on November 30th, Ponzinibbio will very likely get a call for a title shot eliminator in the coming months.