BREAKING: UFC books the return of Khamzat Chimaev against Li Jingliang

The UFC has finalized the return of Khamzat Chimaev (9-0). Octagon Bet was the first to report that the promotion has finalized a matchup between Chimaev and top 15 welterweight Li Jingliang (18-6).

The matchup is set to take place at UFC 267 on October 30th. This is a huge spot for “The Leech”. The last time we saw Li was when he fought Santiago Ponzinibbio back in January. Li scored a first round knockout in that fight.

That was a massive feather in the cap for Li who derailed the hype train of Ponzinibbio. Now, Li is going to be tasked with taking out another UFC hype train in Khamzat Chimaev.

Li has been with the UFC since 2014. During that time, he’s gone 9-4 and he’s been in there with some really solid welterweights. He’s 4-1 in his last five fights with the lone loss coming against top ten contender Neil Magny.

UFC Return for Chimaev

UFC 267 will mark the highly anticipated return of Khamzat Chimaev. Chimaev took the combat sports world by storm in 2020 and he looked to be on the fast track. The Chechen star made his UFC debut on Fight Island.

Chimaev won two fights in ten days and he did so in extremely dominant fashion. He made his debut at middleweight but fought his second fight at his natural weight class of 170 pounds.

After those two wins, the UFC booked him against middleweight veteran Gerald Meerschaert. It was supposed to be the first real test for Chimaev, but he made it look easy. After showing off his dominant wrestling in his first two fights, Chimaev showed his striking and power off.

Chimaev knocked Meerschaert out in just 17 seconds to pick up his third UFC win. From there, Chimaev was booked against top contender Leon Edwards for a headliner in December. Chimaev went from an unknown to potentially fighting in a title eliminator.

However, that fight fell through after both men came down with COVID-19. Chimaev had a very difficult time with COVID and contemplated retirement. However, he’s back to 100% and he has a big fight in front of him at UFC 267.

After loss at UFC Vegas 26, what’s next for Geoff Neal?

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 26, one of the most anticipated matchups was Geoff Neal (13-4) – Neil Magny (25-8). Both men were coming off losses and both were looking to get right back into the thick of things at 170 pounds.

2020 turned out to be a tough year for the UFC‘s Geoff Neal. Neal came into the year looking like he was going to be a title contender by the end of it. After earning himself a contract on The Contender Series, Neal started his UFC career 5-0.

Only one of those victories came by decision and two of the wins were against Mike Perry and Belal Muhammad. However, health issues outside the octagon really delayed the progression of Geoff Neal.

Neal was set to take on Neil Magny halfway through the year, but he had to pull out due to some health issues. Handz of Steel ended up in the hospital with the issues that he was dealing with.

The UFC finally got him healthy enough to fight and he took on Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in December. Wonderboy used distance to frustrate Neal and walked away with a decision victory.

Well, the same thing happened at UFC Vegas 26. I figured Geoff Neal would use his power and pressure to hurt Magny, but the jab of Magny and the distance control was too much. Neil Magny ultimately walked away with a decision victory.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 26?

After this loss, Neal said that he wanted to take some time away to let his body heel. He said that the last year had really been tough on him physically and the two straight UFC losses took a toll on him.

When he is ready to return, what should the UFC do with him? Well, I think they definitely need to give him someone in the top fifteen. We need to see him against another ranked opponent to see if there’s anything left of Geoff Neal the top contender.

Opponents like Sean Brady (14-0) and Li Jingliang (18-6) are two names that come to mind. Both guys are surging contenders on the verge of the top ten. If the UFC put Neal in with either of them it would be a good measurement fight to see exactly where Geoff Neal is.

UFC Matchmaker: Li Jingliang – Belal Muhammad

This past weekend at UFC 258, Belal Muhammad (18-3) took on Dhiego Lima (15-8). Both men entered the contest on winning streaks, but Muhammad was the only fighter who made the walk with a ranking by his name.

Entering UFC 258, Muhammad was ranked 13th in the welterweight division. Going into this matchup, I figured Muhammad’s wrestling would just overwhelm Lima. However, that wasn’t the case.

Lima was incredibly impressive with his takedown defense and kept the fight standing for the majority of the fight. That said, Muhammad still completely controlled the fight on Saturday night.

Muhammad put a pace on Lima that just weathered the former Ultimate Fighter runner-up. Lima landed some good shots, but the fight was all Belal Muhammad. I came away incredibly impressed by the continued improvement of Belal Muhammad’s striking.

After the fight was over, Muhammad didn’t call out one of the elites of the division. Instead, he called out a fighter that makes perfect sense when you look at the UFC rankings. Muhammad called out The Leech, Li Jingliang (18-6).

Will the UFC make this matchup?

Last month, Jingliang took on the returning Santiago Ponzinibbio. Ponzinibbio at one point looked like he was going to be the next big threat in the UFC’s welterweight division. However, injuries and time away have slowed his progress.

While he was the big betting favorite, Ponzinibbio couldn’t deliver. Jingliang ended up knocking him out with a flush left hand and that win found Jingliang ranked 12th in the UFC’s welterweight rankings. One spot ahead of Belal Muhammad.

Muhammad made the callout on Saturday night because he said it’s the fight that makes sense. Despite the winning streak and being ranked, Muhammad hasn’t received a ranked opponent over his last few fights. That’s something that the UFC will aim to change in his next time out.

I believe that the proposed matchup between Muhammad and Jingliang makes all the sense in the world. Whoever would be victorious in that matchup would be primed for a matchup against someone in the UFC’s top ten.

What’s next for Li Jingliang after his big knockout at UFC Fight Island 7?

This past weekend at UFC Fight Island 7, the MMA world was excited for the return of Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-4). Ponzinibbio was one of the top welterweight prospects in the promotion when the calendar closed in 2018.

However, injuries have kept Ponzinibbio out of the UFC since then. The promotion put him on this card and gave him Li Jingliang (18-6) in his return. The last we saw of Ponzinibbio, he was incredibly sharp and did well with counterstriking.

Li is the type of opponent who is going to be in your face from the moment the fight starts. With the styles of the two, I figured it was a great matchup for Ponzinibbio to return to and I expected him to pickup the win.

However, I was dead wrong. From the opening bell, Ponzinibbio was incredibly tentative. Li on the other hand was fighting as he normally does. Aggressively moving forward and looking for hooks to start his combinations or counter Ponzinibbio.

During one of the exchanges, Ponzinibbio overextended and Li put his lights out with a flush left hook. The UFC crowd was stunned and Li pulled off a massive win for him. Tough night for the returning Ponzinibbio but a sensational night for The Leech.

What’s next after UFC Fight Island 7?

Normally after a UFC event, you look at the winners and there are a number of options for their next fight. However, this is not the case with Li. To me, there is one clear option that I think the promotion should go with.

I think the next fight for Li Jingliang should be a matchup with Geoff Neal (13-3). Neal just suffered his first loss inside the octagon, but he’s still ranked inside the top 15 at welterweight. He’s currently ranked 11th in the division.

The new UFC rankings just came out and Li is currently ranked 12th. Given their styles and their positions within the division, it makes all the sense in the world to book these guys against each other. Not too mention it would be an insanely fun matchup for the fans.

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.

Jingliang Li knocks out Ponzinibbio in the first at UFC Fight Island 7

One of the more intriguing matchups at UFC Fight Island 7 was the welterweight contest between Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-3) and Jingliang Li (17-6). For Ponzinibbio, this was his first fight back in the UFC in over two years.

A couple of years ago, Ponzinibbio looked like he was on his way to being a force in the division. To close out 2018, he starched Neil Magny and looked like he was going to become a title contender.

However, multiple injuries have kept Ponzinibbio on the shelf for the last couple of years. I was very intrigued to see how he would look in this matchup especially given the style of opponent that the UFC gave him.

Jingliang Li is not the type of opponent you get when you want to ease into your return. Li is a guy who loves to come forward non-stop and throw everything at you. Whether it’s hooks, kicks, or takedown attempts, Li will try it. This fight was promised to deliver on the action.

UFC Fight Island 7 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Fight Island 7 welterweight contest got underway with a touch of the gloves. Ponzinibbio opened up with a little pressure on Li looking for low kicks. Li was throwing a lot of feints trying to gauge Ponzinibbio.

The first clean shot lands a minute in and it was a left hook from Li. Ponzinibbio took it well, but he was looking slightly tentative. Li started to go to work with throwing hooks and mixing in some low kicks.

Ponzinibbio tried to work his way inside behind his jab, however, he wasn’t throwing much. Ponzinibbio’s UFC layoff looks like it was impacting him early. Two minutes left in the round and Li lands a solid straight right hand on Ponzinibbio.

Ponzinibbio kept with the pressure and was beginning to open up a little more with his leg kicks. However, Li was doing a good job of responding. Li was throwing and landing a lot more than Ponzinibbio in the first round. Out of no where, Li lands a massive left hook and puts Ponzinibbio to sleep! Wow!

Jingliang Li def. Santiago Ponzinibbio by KO – Round 1

UFC Fight Island 7 Preview: Santiago Ponzinibbio – Jingliang Li

One of the storylines I’m most intrigued by tomorrow at UFC Fight Island 7 is the return of Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-3). The top Argentinian welterweight will fight for the first time since 2018 when he takes on Jingliang Li (17-6) on the main card.

A couple of years ago, Ponzinibbio looked like he was on his way to being a force in the UFC‘s welterweight division. Ponzinibbio had won seven fights in a row including wins over Neil Magny, Mike Perry, and Gunner Nelson.

However, it was the manner in which Ponzinibbio won some of these matchups. He completely starched the durable Neil Magny when those two fought in 2018. Ponzinibbio looked like he could become the UFC‘s first champion from Argentina.

However, his career has been derailed by injuries over the past couple of years. That Magny knockout was the last time we’ve seen Ponzinibbio in action. His return has been anticipated by many and the UFC gave him a great opponent for his return.

Standing in the way of a successful Ponzinibbio return is Jingliang Li. Li was riding high entering 2020 after he had won three straight. He got a big opportunity against Neil Magny back in March. He lost that fight by unanimous decision.

Since then, we haven’t seen Li back in the UFC. However, he’s been working hard to improve and he looks to be a tough challenge for Ponzinibbio. Whoever wins this fight should be ranked in the top 15 when the rankings are updated next week.

UFC Fight Island 7 Prediction

The one thing I really like about this matchup is the pressure that Li is going to put on Ponzinibbio. Ponzinibbio is going to be fighting for the first time in over two years at UFC Fight Island 7.

Li is not going to let him get super comfortable in the cage. He’s going to come right out with pressure and force Ponzinibbio right into the fire. Li is the type of guy who’s not going to blow you away with anything he does, but he’s tough and he pushes the pace.

When it comes to predictions, it all comes down to which Ponzinibbio we see tomorrow. If he’s back into his normal form, I think he’s going to land a clean counter and get the finish. However, if he’s too timid, Li can win this fight on points with his activity alone.

At the end of the day, I believe that Ponzinibbio is one of the better welterweights in the UFC. I think he’s going to fight with something to prove and I think he will get the stoppage win tomorrow.

Prediction: Santiago Ponzinibbio by TKO – Round 2

UFC books return of Santiago Ponzinibbio against Li Jingliang

The UFC is finalizing a big time matchup in their welterweight division. MMA Fighting was first to report that the promotion is finalizing a welterweight contest between Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-3) and Li Jingliang (17-6).

The fight is expected to take place on the first event of 2021 on Fight Island. That UFC card is being headlined by the featherweight showdown between Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar.

The welterweight contest will be the first UFC fight in over two years for Ponzinibbio. Starting in 2015, Ponzinibbio started a run where he looked like he was going to be a serious problem in the UFC‘s welterweight division.

Entering the fight on Fight Island, Ponzinibbio will be carrying in a seven-fight winning streak. In his last fight which took place in 2018, Ponzinibbio knocked out Neil Magny in an incredibly impressive performance.

Injuries and other health issues have kept the Argentinian outside of the octagon for the last couple of years. However, if Ponzinibbio shows that he’s back to his original form on January 16th, the welterweight division has another exciting contender.

UFC Welterweight Matchup

However, getting a victory in his UFC return will not be easy. Ponzinibbio will be taking on the Chinese contender, Li Jingliang. Jingliang fights out of China Top Team and he’s 7-2 in his last nine fights inside the octagon.

We last saw Jingliang back in March when he took on Neil Magny. Both of these welterweight contenders share a final opponent in Magny. However, Jingliang wasn’t nearly as successful as Ponzinibbio was against Magny.

Over the course of three rounds, Magny was able to get the unanimous decision win over Jingliang. This loss snapped a three-fight winning streak for Jingliang inside the UFC. The Leech is getting a good opportunity welcoming Ponzinibbio back into the UFC.

Whoever wins this matchup on January 16th should jump into the rankings in the welterweight division. I’m very excited and curious to see how Ponzinibbio looks after over two years off from competition.