Kevin Holland set to face Santiago Ponzinibbio at UFC 287
UFC 287 is coming along quite nicely, as the promotion continues adding stellar match ups to it.
Firstly, we’ve got a UFC middleweight championship bout headlining the event; the rematch, or quadrilogy rather between Alex Pereira and former champion Israel Adesanya, as well as a welterweight showdown between former title challengers Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal.
Another exciting welterweight clash going down at this event comes between Kevin Holland (23-9) and Santiago Ponzinibbio (29-6).
Argentinean talent Santiago Ponzinibbio came to the UFC in November of 2013 following a 4-0 run on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil II. Unfortunate for him, he was unable to compete for the trophy due to an injury suffered in his final bout on the show where he defeated Leonardo Santos (UD).
Nonetheless, Ponzinibbio made his promotional debut with a record of 18-1, and he’d go 2-2 through his first four appearances, losing to Ryan LaFlare (UD) in his promotional debut, and then Lorenz Larkin (TKO) in his fourth promotional bout. He did however defeat Sean Strickland (UD) in this time.
Following this initial 2-2 run, Ponzinibbio would win his next seven-straight, and it looked like we had a serious contender on our hands. It appeared his record was a bit padded upon his UFC arrival, but he really pulled out all the stops and made the correct adjustments to become a problem for most in the 170 lb division.
The final three victories of this streak showcased him defeating the likes of Gunnar Nelson (KO), a pretty sizeable upset at the time, Mike Perry (UD), and Neil Magny (KO). However, he was forced out of action for over two years with a series of injuries, and he’d return only to be viciously KO’d in round one by Li Jingliang.
Ponzinibbio rebounded with a victory over the highly touted Miguel Baeza (UD), before losing back-to-back split decisions to Geoff Neal and Michel Pereira. His latest appearance however, last month at UFC 282, showed him TKO the surging Alex Morono midway through round three after an exciting back-and-forth war.
Kevin Holland on the other hand came to the UFC in August of 2018, filling in on short notice to face future light-heavyweight title challenger Thiago Santos.
Following a unanimous decision defeat in this fight, Holland would win his next three-straight before being submitted (rear naked choke) by Brendan Allen in Allen’s UFC debut, which was quite the upset itself.
Holland rebounded with five-straight victories, four of which coming via knockout, and all of which coming in 2020. The fifth of these victories came over former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jacare Souza (KO).
But 2021 wasn’t quite as nice to Holland, as he went 0-2 (1 NC), losing five round decisions to Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori, losing nine of those ten rounds. The no contest came against Kyle Daukaus, a fight he was wobbled in courtesy of a headbutt and quickly submitted (D’Arce choke) following.
Holland then decided a move down to the welterweight division would suit him better, and some could argue it has.
Upon arriving at 170 lbs, Holland rattled off back-to-back second round stoppages over the likes of Alex Oliveira (TKO) and Tim Means (D’Arce choke), before losing his catchweight bout against Khamzat Chimaev (D’Arce choke), and then former two-time title challenger Stephen Thompson (TKO).
Both of these talents are in serious need of a win come UFC 287, who ends up taking it?
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I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.