Michel Pereira had to battle it out through all three rounds but he fought his way to a split decision win over Santiago Ponzinibbio in the UFC Vegas 55 co-main event.
The difference in the fight was largely centered around Pereira’s power as he blasted Ponzinibbio with the harder shots, although both welterweights certainly connected with a lot of strikes over 15 minutes. When it was over, two judges scored the fight 30-27 and 29-28 for Pereira with the third official going 29-28 for Ponzinibbio.
That was enough for Pereira to get the win as he scores his fifth consecutive victory in a row in the UFC.
“Ponzinibbio, thank you very much my friend,” Pereira said. “You’re very strong, my friend. Thanks so much.”
With Ponzinibbio looking for kicks it was Pereira who connected with the first big strike in the fight after he caught the Argentinean fighter with a hard right hand counter punch. Ponzinibbio ate the shot but continued to move forward as he looked to close the distance on his longer and taller opponent.
The right hands continued to slip through for Pereira as Ponzinibbio had to be extremely careful not to get tagged with one of those punches flush on the chin. While Ponzinibbio was more than willing to stick in the exchanges, Pereira was still landing with more pop behind his punches.
Just when it looked like Pereira was on the verge of taking over, Ponzinibbio snapped off several stinging lefts that caught the Brazilian off guard. For a moment it looked like Pereira was rattled or perhaps losing some team.
In return, Pereira turned it around after he fired back with a straight punch that opened a cut on Ponzinibbio’s nose as the welterweights continued trading shots on the feet. A brief reset between the second and third rounds also allowed Pereira just enough time to get some energy back as he came out firing at the start of the final five minutes.
Once again, Pereira found success with his right hand over the top that just kept landing on target but Ponzinibbio had no plans to fade away. Ponzinibbio started to really up his output, which allowed him to clip Pereira with several combinations as he really began pouring on the pressure.
Not to be outdone, Pereira came right back at him with the welterweights just trading bombs until the final horn sounded. It was a tough fight to score but two judges sided with Pereira as a dejected Ponzinibbio left the octagon immediately after the scores were read because he obviously believed he had done enough for the win.
After getting his hand raised, Pereira was quick to target a couple of notable names in the welterweight division for his next fight.
“Now I need top 15, top 10 [opponent],” Ponzinibbio said. “Hey Nate [Diaz], I’m ready. Hey, Jorge Masvidal, come my friend. I’m talking. I need a fight with you.”