The UFC makes its first trip to Argentina on Saturday for UFC Fight Night 140.
As is often the case when the promotion debuts in a new market, a local fighter participates in the headlining the bout. On this card, that fighter is surging slugger Santiago Ponzinibbio. Victorious in his past six fights, Ponzinibbio, who has three knockout wins during his winning streak, faces the toughest test of his UFC career when he matches up against Neil Magny in a welterweight scrap.
UFC Fight Night 140 takes place Saturday at Parque Roca Arena in Buenos Aires. The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.
Here are nine reasons to watch the event.
1. Lookin’ for a title fight
Ponzinibbio broke into the welterweight rankings with his December win over Mike Perry. That victory was his sixth straight triumph under the UFC banner. Now ranked No. 15 according to the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, the 32-year-old thinks that a win against the No. 12-ranked Magny will be enough to get him a title shot.
“If I win this fight, it will be seven wins in a row, 15 fights for the company, amounting to a total of 13 wins, numerous knockouts,” Ponzinibbio told MMAjunkie. “I would be ready to fight for a title. I would deserve it. I would be ready.”
Magny (21-6 MMA, 14-5 UFC), who is one year younger than Ponzinibbio (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) doesn’t have the unbeaten streak that his opponent has, but he has fought much tougher competition. Magny has wins over former UFC champions Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks as well as a victory over ex-Bellator middleweight champ Hector Lombard. He is, without a doubt, the most well-rounded and accomplished fighter Ponzinibbio has faced in his career.
Like Ponzinibbio, Magny is approaching this bout as the next step to a title shot.
“2019 is my year to get that title shot and win it,” said Magny. “And this road starts this Saturday against Santiago.”
Magny is on a two-fight winning streak. His most recent win was a May knockout of Craig White, who stepped in on short notice to replace the injured Gunnar Nelson.
2. Staying Alive
In October 2015, Elkins was coming off a break of nearly a year. At the time, he was 12 fights into his UFC career and had a record of 8-4. He was also an honorable mention in the featherweight rankings. Then, between UFC Fight Night 76 and UFC Fight Night 124, Elkins went on a tear. He won six straight fights and climbed to No. 6 in the divisional rankings. That winning streak, the second longest of Elkins’ career, came to an end in July when he dropped a decision to Alexander Volkanovski.
Today, Elkins (24-6 MMA, 14-5 UFC) is the No. 8 ranked fighter at 145 pounds. The 34-year-old faces Ricardo Lamas (18-7 MMA, 9-5 UFC), who is an honorable mention in the divisional rankings, at UFC Fight Night 140.
Lamas has struggled to find traction since his 2014 unanimous decision loss to then-champion Jose Aldo. Lamas, who was ranked No. 3 in the division when he faced Aldo, has gone 5-4 since he lost his bid to gain the title. The 36-year-old has been unable to string together more than two victories and is currently on the first losing skid of his career with defeats to Josh Emmett and Mirsad Bektic in his past two outings.
The 145-pound division has experienced an influx of new blood over the past few years and that means veterans like Elkins and Lamas are under a great deal of pressure to show that they still belong among the elite of the weight class. Expect these two to do anything they can to prove they can continue to compete at the highest levels of the weight class.
3. A new outlook
If you’re in the mood for a slugfest, then you might want to check out the light heavyweight bout between Khalil Rountree (7-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and Johnny Walker (14-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC). Between them, the two have 16 knockout wins.
Rountree is coming off a 96-second KO of Gokhan Saki. The win earned Rountree the first fight-night bonus of his UFC career.
After his upset victory, Rountree said that the criticism he heard from fans before the bout made him change his approach to the fight game.
“From the moment this fight got announced, I’ve taken so much crap online, which was kind of shocking,” Rountree said after his victory. “It didn’t motivate me – it just made this fight very personal for me. I wanted to go out there and fight my best fight, be the best me. I wanted to show the world what I was all about. And I did.”
Rountree wanted a top-15 opponent after his stoppage of Saki. Instead, he is matched up against UFC newcomer Walker, who earned his way into the UFC with a decision win over Henrique da Silva on the Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil 2 card. The fight was the first time Walker went the distance.
- UFC Fight Night 140 staff predictions: Can Magny stop Ponzinibbio's rising stock?
- 12-bout lineup finalized for UFC's debut in Argentina on Saturday
- UFC Fight Night 140 pre-event facts: Neil Magny creeps up on legends in record books
Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: UFC Fight Night 140: 9 reasons to watch with two title hopefuls leading Argentina debut