After a disappointing return at UFC Fight Island 7, what’s next for Santiago Ponzinibbio?

One of the fighters that I was the most excited about seeing at UFC Fight Island 7 was Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-4). Ponzinibbio had been out since November of 2018 with injuries, but he looked like a destroyer before those injuries.

He had won seven straight fights inside the octagon and looked like a guy who could become UFC welterweight champion. The promotion decided to give him Li Jingliang (18-6) in his return fight.

There are some fighters who can come back from long layoffs and not skip a beat. Then there are fighters who return to the UFC with serious ring rust. I was very curious to see where Ponzinibbio would fall on that scale.

One thing I knew is that he was facing an opponent who wasn’t going to let him get comfortable. Li is constantly throwing and constantly pushing forward which would throw Ponzinibbio right back into the fire after a couple of years off.

I figured Ponzinibbio would be able to land a big counter and win by knockout. Well, the exact opposite happened at UFC Fight Island 7. Ponzinibbio was extremely gun shy and he overextended on a right hand and got caught with a flush left hook that put him out.

What’s next after UFC Fight Island 7?

It is extremely clear that Ponzinibbio was just not comfortable in his UFC return. He didn’t look confident and he looked extremely hesitant. He looked like a fighter who had been off for a couple of years.

To beat a guy like Li, he needed to be on his game and sharp. He wasn’t and he was knocked out as a result. So what does the UFC do with Ponzinibbio after this loss? Well, in reality they need to get him back in there as soon as possible.

Normally fighters want to take some time off after a knockout loss, but Ponzinibbio has been off enough. The best thing for him is to try and get right back in there so he can get going again. The guy has so much ability and talent to just waste on the sidelines.

The UFC could go a couple of different ways with Ponzinibbio. On one hand, they could give him someone like Robbie Lawler (28-15, 1 NC). Sure, Lawler isn’t the same guy he used to be. However, he’s still got a big name with the fans.

If you want to reestablish Ponzinibbio, give him someone like Lawler who he can beat and restore his name. Or, they could give him someone like Alex Morono (18-7, 1 NC) who just lost to Anthony Pettis.

Sure, it’s not the sexiest fight in the world. However, it’s a fight that Ponzinibbio should be able to win. The UFC has options, but they need to give him a favorable matchup in his next fight.

Anthony Pettis gets a win on the final fight of his current deal at UFC Vegas 17

In the featured prelim at UFC Vegas 17, former lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis (24-10), took on Alex Morono (18-7, 1 NC). Pettis was entering the fight on the final fight of his current contract with the UFC.

Showtime entered the fight just 1-2 in his last three fights. There was a lot of pressure on the former champion and Alex Morono was looking to be the spoiler. When the fight got underway, it looked like Morono would do just that.

In the opening seconds at UFC Vegas 17, Pettis fell down while throwing a kick. Morono was able to pounce and get on top of Pettis. For the entire first round, Morono was able to control Pettis.

In the second round, Pettis started to open up with his striking. The former UFC champion looked really comfortable on the feet and he outstruck Morono to secure the second round.

In the third round, Pettis was again getting the better of the standup. In the final seconds of the third round, Pettis almost secured a showtime finish when he rocked Morono with a spinning back kick.

Last UFC fight?

All three judges scored the fight for Pettis 29-28. It was a massive win for Pettis and a great way for him to close out his current UFC deal. At this moment, it appears that Pettis will be testing the free agent market.

I don’t think the UFC is going to be the most aggressive in the pursuit due to the announcement of upcoming cuts. If I had to pick a favorite, I think Bellator is the clubhouse favorite to land Anthony Pettis.

Pettis’ younger brother Sergio already fights for Bellator. Sergio Pettis fought in the UFC prior to making the jump over to Bellator. I think that Anthony might just do the exact same thing.

Time will tell, but there’s a very real chance that we’ve seen Pettis for the final time inside the octagon. He can hold his head high knowing he’s had plenty of showtime moments including capturing the lightweight title.

UFC Vegas 17 Preview: Anthony Pettis – Alex Morono

Tomorrow night at UFC Vegas 17 there’s a solid welterweight contest featuring a former champion. Former lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis (23-10), is back in action at welterweight taking on Alex Morono (18-6, 1 NC).

For Morono he’s going to be attempting to pickup his second UFC win in the last two months. Back at UFC Vegas 14, Morono took on Rhys McKee. Morono was able to get the unanimous decision victory that night.

Since November of 2018, Morono has gone 4-1 inside the octagon. This is the biggest fight of his career in terms of name recognition. If he can get a win tomorrow night over a former UFC champion, it would be big for him.

“Showtime” will be looking to pickup his second straight win tomorrow night as well. We last saw the former UFC lightweight champion at UFC 249 when he took on Donald Cerrone.

That night, Pettis was able to squeak out a decision victory. That win snapped a two-fight losing streak for Pettis. Pettis’ career has been up and down over the past few years, but he’s only lost to top competition inside the UFC.

UFC Vegas 17 Prediction

This matchup is an interesting one on paper when you look at the credentials of both fighters. Both of these fighters are blackbelts in taekwondo. Both of these men are also really slick on the ground.

That makes for a very compelling matchup at UFC Vegas 17. However, there is one thing about Morono that really concerns me and that is his striking defense. We’ve seen in his past couple of fights that it hasn’t been great.

Khaos Williams was able to knock him out in 27 seconds and Rhys McKee was able to land 50% of his strikes in their fight. McKee through over 200 strikes so that tells you that Morono was hit a lot.

I think Pettis is going to be able to take advantage of that at UFC Vegas 17. Morono’s chance at winning comes down to wrestling Pettis. However, I just don’t know if his wrestling will outweigh the shots he’s going to take from the former champion.

Prediction: Anthony Pettis by Unanimous Decision

UFC Books Anthony Pettis – Alex Morono

Today, the UFC got some tough news regarding their December 19th card. The main event between Khamzat Chimaev and Leon Edwards was called off due to Edwards testing positive for COVID-19. 

As a result, the UFC promoted Stephen Thompson – Geoff Neal to the main event of UFC Vegas 17. However, the loss of the main event also left one slot open on the stacked Fight Night card.

That’s when former UFC lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis (23-10), decided to step in and ask for a fight. The promotion worked on it this afternoon and they have found Pettis an opponent at welterweight per ESPN. 

Pettis will be taking on Alex Morono (18-6, 1 NC) at UFC Vegas 17. There is no word yet on if this fight will take place on the main card or the prelims. Normally, this would be a sure main card fight on a fight night card, but this card is incredibly stacked.

UFC Vegas 17’s New Fight

Pettis had been training and he’s been itching to get back into the UFC‘s octagon. Pettis last fought back in May when he defeated Donald Cerrone by decision. The fight was razor close, but Pettis was able to snap his two-fight losing streak.

The former lightweight champion has struggled to find his groove over the last few years. Late in the summer, Pettis seemed interested in fighting Anderson Silva, but that fight never materialized. Now, Pettis will get his next UFC opportunity against a hungry contender.

Alex Morono returned a few weeks ago to fight Rhys McKee. It was Morono’s first fight since he was knocked out by Khaos Williams. Morono was able to dominate the fight and win a unanimous decision.

He is now 4-1 in his last five fights in the UFC. He’ll be taking on a ranked contender and a former champion in Anthony Pettis. This is the biggest fight of Morono’s career and a golden opportunity for progression. Should be a great matchup on December 19th.