UFC Fight Night 105 Prelims: Jab Carries Surging Santiago Ponzinibbio Past Nordine Taleb

By Brian Knapp Feb 19, 2017
The simplest weapon provided the difference for Santiago Ponzinibbio.

The American Top Team rep leaned on a punishing jab in claiming a unanimous verdict over Nordine Taleb in the featured UFC Fight Night “Lewis vs. Browne” prelim on Sunday at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Ponzinibbio (24-3, 6-2 UFC) swept the scorecards with 29-28 marks from all three judges.

Taleb (12-4, 4-2 UFC) was effective early, as he attacked the Argentine’s body and legs with crushing kicks. Ponzinibbio withstood his efforts and turned up the heat in the second round, where his jab did serious damage to the Canadian’s nose and altered the complexion of the fight. A knockdown resulting from a left jab-straight right combination allowed Ponzinibbio to assume top position and feed his adversary ground-and-pound: short punches, elbows and shoulder strikes all fell. Taleb fought mostly in single strikes over the final 10 minutes, Ponzinibbio returning fire with two, three and sometimes four of his own.

Related » UFC Halifax Round-by-Round Scoring

Markos Upsets Former Champion Esparza

Randa Markos outstruck Team Oyama’s Carla Esparza to a split decision in a preliminary women’s strawweight pairing. All three cageside judges cast 29-28 scorecards: Hubert Earle and Don Robinson for Markos, Robert MacAvoy for Esparza.

Markos (7-4, 3-3 UFC) handled her business on the feet and held her own in the clinch and on the ground. She countered an Esparza takedown in the first round, as she trapped the former UFC champion in a bottom-side crucifix and cracked her with repeated hammerfists to the side of the head. Esparza (11-4, 2-2 UFC) made her move late in Round 2, where she executed a takedown and cinched an arm-triangle choke. However, her bid for a submission ended with the bell. Markos cut loose with tone-setting strikes early in the third, delivering a spinning backfist and a straight right that got her counterpart’s attention. Esparza landed a pair of takedowns late in the frame but failed to consolidate them with meaningful damage, though she appeared to connect with an illegal knee to the head as Markos returned to her feet.

The 31-year-old Markos has won three of her last five bouts.

Unbeaten Zahabi Downs Vieira

Tristar Gym prospect Aiemann Zahabi made a successful promotional debut, as he captured a unanimous decision from Reginaldo Vieira in a three-round undercard clash at 135 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for the undefeated Zahabi (7-0, 1-0 UFC): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.

Vieira (13-5, 1-2 UFC) connected with wild, chopping combinations, a series of leg kicks and a few takedowns but never seemed to push the newcomer out of his comfort zone. Zahabi had him reeling in all three rounds and nearly finished it in the second, where he followed a straight left with a crisp right hook that put the Brazilian on the mat. He pounced for a potential finish, and though it did not materialize, the momentum had shifted in his favor. Zahabi -- the younger brother of revered trainer Firas Zahabi -- never relinquished it.

Santos Kick Dispatches Marshman

Thiago Santos took care of former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Jack Marshman with a spinning wheel kick and follow-up punches in the second round of their preliminary middleweight scrap. Marshman (21-6, 1-1 UFC) succumbed to blows 2:21 into Round 2.

Santos (14-5, 6-4 UFC) wandered into danger inside the first five minutes, as he hit the deck on the end of an overhand right. However, the Tata Fight Team rep recovered to extend the fight into a second round. There, he caught an incoming Marshman with the wheel kick, pounced with punches and did enough damage to warrant a stoppage from referee Brad Jardine.

The victory snapped a two-fight losing streak for Santos.

Meerschaert Armbar Taps Janes

Former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Gerald Meerschaert submitted Ryan Janes with a first-round armbar in their undercard pairing at 185 pounds. Janes (9-2, 1-1 UFC) conceded defeat 94 seconds into Round 1, his eight-fight winning streak having run its course.

Meerschaert (26-8, 2-0 UFC) conceded a takedown at the outset but quickly reclaimed full guard. The 29-year-old Roufusport standout then threw up an armbar, trapping Janes in an instant. The tapout followed soon after, as Meerschaert recorded his seventh consecutive victory.


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