The month of January is action-packed with a ton of great fights, three big fight cards all on fight island, so we are kicking off the new years with an absolute bang. Out of all said fights, I’ve always been inclined to take notice of the ones that aren’t always placed directly in the spotlight. Like many casuals who heard that we were having the three fight cards on fight island, they only saw names like Holloway or McGregor. I pay attention to the other names that aren’t mentioned as much, but to me make a huge impact in returning to the grand scheme of things.
One name, in particular, is “The Argentine Dagger” Santiago Ponzinbbio, making his return to the welterweight division. Not very long ago Ponzinibbio was scheduled to face welterweight tough guy Robbie Lawler in what many considered a fun match-up with two guys that have knockout power. But if one thing has held Ponzinibbio back it is injuries. The aforementioned fight was scheduled for December 19, 2019, but “Ponzi” pulled out of the fight due to a staph infection. Ponzinibbio has been a name that many don’t know in the welterweight division because of all the injuries. At one point in time, he was supposed to fight the current welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman, on May 19 of 2018, but once again he had to pull out of a fight because of injuries. It wasn’t long ago he was ranked within the top ten of the division, labeled as a threat to anyone in the top ten because at any time with a single punch he could easily end anyone’s night. He’s knocked out or beaten some of the toughest guys in the division. Gunnar Nelson is one of those guys, who had not previously been knocked out until he met Ponzinibbio, as well as Neil Magny, Mike Perry, and others. But the key to this story is the fights he “hasn’t” fought because of injury.
So as he fights this weekend against step-in fighter Li Jingliang (because Muslim Salikhov cited health issues from Covid), will “Ponzi” come back in full form? Can he regain his top ten status and move up the ranks in the welterweight division? Or have injuries proven to be Ponzinibbio’s Achilles heel and remain to hold the “Argentine Dagger” out of top contention?