Michel Pereira had to fight in all three rounds but fought his way to a split decision victory over Santiago Ponzinibbio in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 55.
The difference in the fight was largely centered around Pereira’s strength as he blasted Ponzinibbio with harder punches, though both welterweights certainly landed plenty of punches in 15 minutes. When it was all over, two judges scored the fight 30-27 and 29-28 in favor of Pereira, while the third judge scored it 29-28 in favor of Ponzinibbio.
That was enough for Pereira to win, as he has his fifth UFC win in a row.
“Ponzinibbio, thank you very much, my friend,” said Pereira. “You are very strong, my friend. Thanks a lot.”
As Ponzinibbio was looking for kicks, it was Pereira who landed the first major punch of the fight after catching the Argentinean fighter with a hard counter right hand. Ponzinibbio swallowed the blow but kept moving forward, trying to close the distance to his longer, taller opponent.
Right hands kept slipping for Pereira as Ponzinibbio had to be extremely careful not to get caught by one of those chin punches. While Ponzinibbio was more than willing to continue the exchanges, Pereira was still landing with more punches from his shots.
Just when it looked like Pereira was about to get the upper hand, Ponzinibbio landed several hard lefts that caught the Brazilian off guard. For a moment it seemed that Pereira was at a loss, or perhaps lost some command.
In turn, Pereira turned things around after hitting back with a straight punch that opened a cut on Ponzinibbio’s nose as the welterweights continued to trade blows to the legs. The short reset between the second and third rounds also gave Pereira plenty of time to recuperate when he fired early in the final five minutes.
Once again, Pereira succeeded with a right hand that kept hitting the target, but Ponzinibbio was not going to give up. Ponzinibbio started to really build up his scoring which allowed him to beat Pereira with several combinations as he really started to apply pressure.
Not to be outdone, Pereira answered him directly, and the welterweights simply exchanged bombs until the final blast blew. It was a tough fight to score a goal, but two referees sided with Pereira as a dejected Ponzinibbio left the octagon immediately after the results were read because he clearly believed he had done enough to win.
With his arm raised, Pereira quickly took aim at a couple of well-known welterweight names for his next fight.
“Now I need top 15, top 10 [opponent]Ponzinibbio said. “Hey Nate [Diaz], I’m ready. Hey Jorge Masvidal, come here my friend. I’m talking. I need to fight you.”