Santiago Ponzinibbio fought hard and lasted three rounds, but his long-awaited UFC debut did not end victoriously as Ryan LaFlare upset the Argentine by earning a unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 32 in Goiania, Brazil on Saturday.
In the first round, the battle between was marked by a challenge for base as LaFlare dominated with takedowns and top control, but found himself trying to fight for it as Ponzinibbio was setting up scrambles with butterfly guard and otherwise impressive movement from the bottom.
Things changed in the second round, however, as Ponzinibbio had a much better time stopping the takedown and even taking the center of the cage, stalking the American. Ponzinibbio eventually stuck him a hard uppercut that clearly hurt him. He followed up and LaFlare looked in a bad way, but managed to hang on and even score with shots of his own to back the hometown favorite up. LaFlare ended the round in a near breadcutter submission position, pounding on Ponzinibbio from side control.
In the third and final frame, LaFlare pushed with leg kicks, inside and out to start the round, but things would soon take a wild turn. LaFlare eventually caught a spinning back kick, lifting Ponzinibbio into the air and slamming him brutally to the mat, right into side control. LaFlare was all over him as he tried to roll. Ponzinibbio appeared to be hugely exhausted. LaFlare then scored with a knee to the body that sent the Argentine to the mat where he was nearly finished. LaFlare was later hurt with a strike that sat him down only to score an omaplata on Ponzinibbio where they round eventually ended.
The judges award the win to LaFlare, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27 on all three cards. He moves to 9-0 in MMA while Ponzinibbio drops to 18-1.
"I didn't like my performance. I got tired. I was too well-trained to get tired like this. I don't know where it went wrong, my body just shutdown. I have no excuses. He took me down, and I got tired. I had a good moment, and I was too tired to take advantage of it, but it`s part of the game. I`ll come back 10 times stronger," Ponzinibbio said after the fight.