An extremely exciting matchup has been scheduled for UFC Fight Night 206, as Santiago Ponzinibbio faces off with Brazilian fan favorite Michel Pereira. While both men have become big names in the sport during their time in the UFC, a win Saturday against one another could spell big things for the winner’s future.
In 2019, Santiago Ponzinibbio, 27-3 at the time and coming off of a big win against Neil Magny looked like an absolute world beater. A recent collection of wins over Mike Perry and Gunnar Nelson, only cemented this fact and it was expected that only big names were to come for the Argentinian. However, a bad battle with Staph caused Ponzinibbio to take an unprecedented leave of absence from the UFC in his career. He would not fight for roughly two years. Since coming back however, Ponzinibbio has been on a mission to recapture the momentum he left behind, first coming in looking not quite himself in a losing shot at Li Jingliang before winning a unanimous decision against Miguel Baeza. Most recently Ponzinibbio lost a split decision to Geoff Neal in a fight that was razor close, he continues to return to form more and more since he left but has to string together another win this saturday to prove it.
Michel Periera is at the top of his career at this very moment. Joining the UFC in 2019, Periera immediately cemented himself as someone to watch with his showcase fight style which looks right out of a movie. However, fans had to guess themselves when the prospect lost two of his first three, but quickly realized the hype was real as he has since put together four impressive wins in a row. Of those four, Niko Price and Khaos Williams are likely the biggest names, but a win over Ponzinibbio would be the biggest of all.
Michel Pereira is the betting favorite before UFC Fight Night 206 this weekend. He’ll enter at odds of -130 to win. The total rounds market is set at 2.5 rounds with the under providing decent value at odds of +145.
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Michel Pereira is as exciting a fighter as we’ve ever seen in the UFC. His ability to intertwine martial arts and acrobatics makes him unpredictable and dangerous and often a scary problem to solve for those game-planning against him. The downside to his style is that due to the erratic movement required and his explosiveness it is extremely taxing, and has cost him his cardio in past fights. Each fight we’ve seen him in over the past year has shown immense improvement, but his ability to become efficient and sharpen his talent into a cohesive fighting style that makes sense is still a bit of a work in progress. None of that matters however, if he catches you, the momentum and the physical ability that carry the moves his opponents don’t see coming can by all means finish anyone at any time.
Pereira will typically work on the backfoot until he lashes out, if he is pushed back to the cage he will use the fence to explode off in a flurry. Likewise, he may get pushed back but he will always circle and counter as he changes directions. Once he gets some momentum going, and or if his opponent is evidently hurt, that’s when we see him start to push forward and build on it. His decision to move back is largely because he needs to maintain enough range that his kicks can land and his blitz doesn’t get stifled, so for the most part expect him to move back laterally and try to use his piercing front kick to keep Ponzinibbio at bay.
Ponzinibbio has more of an efficient style but still wants to be in wars. He is dangerous with his hands and he has a good chopping low kick especially to the inside leg. However for the most part the work is done upstairs. While he is primarily boxing, he doesn’t try to walk his opponents down into the pocket, he has a lot of footwork and entries that he uses to get in and out, and moving all over the octagon is consistent in his fights. His best combination is the right hand to left hook, which comes wide and accurate and it’s sharp. Look for him to pour on the pressure in order to sap Periera early. The thing about Pereira is he is a momentum fighter, when he is on he will ride that and get better, but caught or finding himself without success and just getting tired, he may wilt. He has shown a new and improved ability to reset mentally and physically between rounds and at the start of each bell he will come in looking sharper and more disciplined than how he finished the last, so it would be smart for Ponzinibbio to get on him early in each round to make the most of it.
Neither man prefers to shoot but neither will ever shy away from it. Both tend to lean towards traditional wrestling takedowns such as double and single legs to get the fight down and don’t typically use clinch throws or trips too much. Control is the main priority for both over submission, so two scenarios stand out where we may see one of them initiate their wrestling. If one of them is hurt, both have shown they will shoot to create enough time to recover, and in a close round both have also shot nearing the end in order to secure the score, however, expect the majority of the fight to play out on the feet.
I believe that while Periera will have his moments, POnzinibbio’s pace will make the difference. His footwork is not like that of most MMA boxers, he instead has a lot of wide and tricky footwork to read, and he stays calm in exchanges. Forcing Pereira to trade benefits Ponzinibbio and I believe that his footwork will both force Pereira to stay on his bike and expel energy and make it more difficult for Periera to time his bursts forward.
Prediction: Santiago Ponzinibbio to win
Betting Note: Ponzinibbio is the underdog at odds of +100 at BetUS. A winning bet on Ponzinibbio this weekend would double your money.