Michel Pereira continues to build momentum.
The rising contender picked up arguably the biggest win of his career on Saturday night. Pereira (28-11 MMA, 6-2 UFC) defeated Santiago Ponzinibbio in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 206 at the UFC Apeix in Las Vegas. The Brazilian defeated Ponzinibbio (28-6 MMA, 10-5 UFC) in a split decision that read 29-28, 30-27 and 28-29.
It was a closely contested bout with plenty of action.
Ponzinibbio looked to do the majority of the pressuring as he walked down Pereira. The Brazilian had success early with some good right hands but nothing that hurt Ponzinibbio. With a minute remaining in the first round, Pereira connected with a solid right hook that seemed to stun Ponzinibbio briefly. The fight continued with both guys looking to close out the round with a statement but were unable to land anything significant.
The second started with a much more different dynamic. Pereira came off the stool hot as he put a lot of pressure on Ponzinibbio. He landed a hard kick to the body that caught the attention of Ponzinibbio. From there, both fighters traded evenly on the feet, but Pereira seemed to land the bigger shots. With two minutes left, Ponzinibbio began to close the gap, landing a few good left hooks and jabs on Pereira. Ponzinibbio would continue to tag Pereira and then close out the round with a takedown.
At the start of Round 3, Pereira landed a hard right on Ponzinibbio, but that was immediately answered by a solid left from Ponzinibbio. Pereira looked to be slowing down, as Ponzinibbio began to bring up the intensity and output with the jab. Both fighters showed clear wear on their face as they traded hard shots. Ponzinibbio began to add leg kicks in his attack and was having success. The round ended with both fighters going toe-to-toe.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) May 22, 2022
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With this result, Pereira is now on a five-fight winning streak. The Brazilian fighter has consecutive wins over Zelim Imadaev, Khaos Williams, Niko Price, Andre Fialho, and now Ponzinibbio. Pereira’s last defeat came against Diego Sanchez in early 2020 when he was disqualified due to an illegal knee.
Meanwhile, Ponzinibbio now has consecutive defeats for the first time in his 14-year professional career. The Argentine was coming off a split decision loss to Geoff Neal back in December at UFC 269. Since his return from a health scare in 2021, Ponzinibbio is now 1-3. The 35-year-old holds notable wins over Miguel Baeza, Mike Perry, Gunnar Nelson, Sean Strickland and Neil Magny.
Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 206 results:
Michel Pereira def. Santiago Ponzinibbio via split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
Tabatha Ricci def. Polyana Viana via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Jun Yong Park def. Eryk Anders via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29).
Uros Medic def. Omar Morales via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:05
Jonathan Martinez def. Vince Morales via unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 30–27)
Sam Hughes def. Elise Reed via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 3:52