The UFC has added another banger for the December PPV. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report last night that the promotion had finalized a matchup between top 12 welterweights as Geoff Neal (13-4) takes on Santiago Ponzinibbio (28-4).
The matchup will take place at UFC 269 which is shaping up to be one of the most stacked cards of the year. This matchup is likely going to be featured on the prelims which is remarkable when you think about it.
Ponzinibbio is going to be looking to pickup his second consecutive win which could get him back in the top ten. A few years ago, Ponzinibbio was looked at as a future UFC champion after the way he started with the promotion.
Before a series of injuries delayed his progression, Ponzinibbio went on a seven-fight win streak in the UFC. During that stretch he had wins over Gunnar Nelson and Mike Perry. The highlight win was a knockout over the tough Neil Magny.
However, injuries kept him out for over two years after that Magny win. He returned in January where he was knocked out by Jingliang Li. After that, he did bounce back with a sensational win over Miguel Baeza where he handed the UFC top prospect his first career loss.
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Geoff Neal was on a very similar path as Ponzinibbio inside the octagon. After earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series, Neal went on a tear in the UFC. He started out a perfect 5-0.
During that start he had wins over guys like Belal Muhammad, Niko Price, and Mike Perry. However, he then had a year layoff after some health concerns. Upon his return, he fought Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in a main event last December.
Neal was outclassed and suffered his first UFC loss. Then, he was defeated by Neil Magny back in May to suffer his second straight loss. Now, he has the tough task of taking on Ponzinibbio in December.
Both of these men need this win. For Ponzinibbio, he needs to show that he can beat top UFC welterweights again. For Neal, he needs to show the same thing and get back on track. This should be an incredible matchup once it rolls around in December.