Santiago Ponzinibbio plans on taking his frustrations out on Li Jingliang.
Ponzinibbio returns to the Octagon for the first time in 26 months when he faces Jingliang in a welterweight bout on the main card of UFC Fight Island 7 on January 16.
It’s undoubtedly long overdue as the Argentine has had to deal with plenty of issues since his knockout win over Neil Magny in November 2018 including injuries, a blood infection as well as COVID-19.
And with just over a week to go for his long-awaited return, Ponzinibbio — who feels he’s the best version of himself as of now — plans on inflicting plenty of punishment on his adversary.
It’s nothing personal, however.
“I feel great, man,” Ponzinibbio told TSN in a recent interview. “I have seven victories in a row. I feel in my best moment in my career. I feel I’m in my prime. And I’m going to knock this guy out, man. I’m going to injure this guy.
“… I’ve had a lot of tough moments in my last 26 months and somebody needs to pay for that. This is not personal but he’s standing in front of me in the Octagon. It’s the best mistake you can do in all your career — accept a fight with me. I’m going to injure him, I’m going to knock this guy out and I’m about to return. I know I’m going to be champion of this division. In 2021, I’m running for my belt.”
Despite his seven-fight winning streak, Ponzinibbio’s inactivity has seen him get removed from the UFC’s welterweight rankings.
That caused him plenty of trouble in landing opponents for his comeback but “Gente Boa” had issues with the rankings well before that too.
For now, he’s only looking to worry about what he can control as his goal remains the same — becoming the UFC welterweight champion.
“I know the rankings don’t make any sense but in the same way, we need to stay in the top five to get an opportunity for the belt,” Ponzinibbio said. “Hopefully, I finish this guy, I knock him out, Jingliang Li, and after that, hopefully, I go to the top ten, close to the top five for a big fight and I can go to my belt.”