COCONUT CREEK, Fla. – Santiago Ponzinibbio is itching for gold, and he’s doing everything in his power to scratch that itch.

The welterweight contender returns to the cage on UFC 269, the promotion’s final pay-per-view of the year, for a clash with Geoff Neal in the featured bout of the main card at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Prelims air on ESPN and stream on ESPN+.

Ponzinibbio (28-4 MMA, 10-3 UFC), who’s coming off a “Fight of the Night” win against Miguel Baeza in June, is looking to capitalize on his momentum and make a statement at 170 pounds.

“I always try put on the best fights and fight the best guys in the company,” Ponzinibbio told MMA Junkie in Spanish. “I’m always out to beat the top fighters and prove I’m among the best in the world. My objective is the world title, but I’m focused on Neal.
“Fortunately, I’m in great shape, I’m feeling good and I’m prepared to beat him. The idea is to finish the fight and then get in there with a top 5. That’s what I’m looking for. I want a top five, so I can then get an opportunity for the title.”
Ponzinibbio is 8-1 in his past nine trips top the octagon. He was a streaking contender for the title years ago, but a life threatening infection put him out on the sidelines for three years. The Argentine wants to make up for lost time by putting away Neal (13-4 MMA, 5-2 UFC), he said.
The American Top Team product knows champion Kamaru Usman, who is sitting on five consecutive title defenses, is a tough challenge to get by, and he’s impressed by the current titleholder. The two were scheduled to fight back in 2018, but the matchup fell through after Ponzinibbio suffered an injury. Ponzinibbio is determined to fight his way to a second booking with Usman.
“He’s looking better every time and he’s an incredible athlete,” Ponzinibbio said. “He looks very strong physically and mentally and he’s constantly evolving, that’s what catches my eye. He’s an athlete that is getting better every fight.
“I love that matchup. I actually accepted to fight him when they offered me that fight for Chile. We had it booked, but because of an injury I wasn’t able to compete. He then became champion and I had that long layoff. I was ranked No. 6 and then they removed me. But now we’re back on the path and I know that after this fight, this victory, a is big fight is coming. I want to get as soon as possible to that title.”

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