Aggression was Santiago Ponzinibbio’s best friend.
The American Top Team-trained Argentine sawed through Neil Magny with leg kicks before he drew the curtain with a scintillating one-punch knockout in the fourth round of the UFC Fight Night 140 headliner on Saturday at Parque Roca Arena in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Magny faceplanted 2:36 into Round 4, closing the book on his two-fight winning streak in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division.
Ponzinibbio barely gave the Elevation Fight Team export room to breathe, much less return fire. He scored with a probing jab and crisp one-two combinations, but leg kicks were the weapons to which he hitched his wagon. Ponzinibbio essentially turned Magny into a one-legged fighter, as he knocked him down with sweeping kicks to the lower leg on multiple occasions. In distress midway through the fourth round, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 16 semifinalist retreated to the fence and was met with a jarring right hand from Ponzinibbio that left him prone on the canvas.
In the after math of UFC Fight Night “Magny vs. Ponzinibbio,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Stephen Thompson: On a run of seven straight victories, Ponzinibbio has emerged as a serious threat to those at or near the top of the 170-pound weight class. The 32-year-old tortured Magny for the better part of four rounds, damaging his right eye with repeated jabs and his lead leg with cringe-inducing kicks. Ponzinibbio has now defeated Magny, Mike Perry, Gunnar Nelson, Nordine Taleb, Zak Cummings, Court McGee and Andreas Stahl in succession; and while that does not represent a murderer’s row of welterweights, it should be more than enough to garner attention. Thompson, a two-time title challenger at 170 pounds, has not fought since he wound up on the wrong side of a unanimous decision against Darren Till on May 27.
Ricardo Lamas vs. Calvin Kattar: Consider it a return to form for Lamas, who spent two-plus round brutalizing Darren Elkins with leg kicks before procuring a late stoppage in the featherweight co-main event. “The Bully” brought it to a close with elbow- and hammerfist-laden ground-and-pound 4:09 into Round 1, snapping the first two-fight losing streak of his career. While Elkins was a bloody mess by the time it was over, repeated kicks to his lower leg ultimately led to his undoing; they left him hobbled an unable to sufficiently defend himself. Lamas executed a takedown in the third round and blasted away from top position until referee Keith Peterson moved in to prevent further carnage. Kattar has rattled off 11 wins in his past 12 appearances. The Team Sityodtong standout last competed at UFC Fight Night 138 on Oct. 27, when he put away Chris Fishgold with first-round punches.
Johnny Walker vs. Aleksandar Rakic-Devin Clark winner: Walker entered the UFC end of the mixed martial arts pool with a cannon ball, as the 6-foot-6 Brazilian knocked out Khalil Rountree with a savage standing elbow in the first round of their featured encounter at 205 pounds. Rountree hit the deck 1:57 into Round 1. Walker rattled him with a head kick, forced him backward and delivered a devastating elbow from the collar tie before mopping up the rest with follow-up punches. That was all she wrote. Walker, 26, has won seven fights in a row, six of them by knockout or technical knockout. The surging and highly regarded Rakic will lock horns with Clark at UFC 233 on Dec. 8.
Ian Heinisch vs. Elias Theodorou-Eryk Anders winner: As far as first impressions are concerned, this was a strong one. Heinisch filled in as a short-notice replacement for the injured Tom Breese and enjoyed a successful promotional debut, as he took a unanimous decision from “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” winner Cezar Ferreira in a three-round middleweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it for the Factor X rep: 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. Heinisch leaned on a pivotal knockdown in the second round, a heavy dose of kicks, power punching combinations and a superior gas tank. Theodorou will toe the line against Anders at UFC Fight Night 231 in December.
Michel Prazeres vs. Gunnar Nelson-Alex Oliveira winner: Prazeres by now should have everyone’s attention. The Brazilian brute needed a little more than a minute to submit Bartosz Fabinski with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their undercard pairing at 170 pounds. Fabinksi, who had not lost in nearly five years, bowed out 62 seconds into Round 1. Prazeres, 37, cut down the Pole with a searing right hand, swarmed with punches and cinched the fight-ending choke with his python-like squeeze. He has rattled off eight consecutive victories to up his record to a stellar 26-2. Nelson and Oliveira are set to collide at UFC 231 on Dec. 8.