Santiago Ponzinibbio went into his second-ever Ultimate Fighting Championship main event with more on the line than ever. Fighting in his home country in the promotion’s inaugural event in Argentina, Ponzinibbio on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 140 put his six-fight winning streak at risk against the Top 10-ranked Neil Magny after almost a yearlong playoff. To the cheers of the Buenos Aires crowd, “Gente Boa” bartered Magny for four rounds before scoring a late knockout. The win extended Ponzinibbio’s run of consecutive victories to seven, and he made it clear that he believed he was in the running for a shot at the welterweight title.
Ponzinibbio came out fast and furious from the start, looking to stick in Magny’s hip pocket and throw out stiff, heavy jabs early and often while never allowing his opponent to find a rhythm. Ponzinibbio saw a vast majority of his success throughout the fight with chopping leg kicks, and they took a toll. He knocked down Magny on several occasions with them and drew noticeable winced from the Colorado-based fighter. Midway through the fourth round, Ponzinibbio connected on a straight right hand that sent Magny crashing to the floor for a dramatic finish.
As the crowd erupted, Ponzinibbio scaled the fence to embrace his fellow Argentines for the first time in the UFC. Afterward, he took a parting shot at reigning UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, vowing to knock out the pound-for-pound ace if they ever meet inside the Octagon.
Longtime featherweight contender Ricardo Lamas was staring at a potential third straight loss, as he squared off against fellow 145-pound mainstay Darren Elkins in the co-headliner; and at the age of 36, Lamas’ fighting future was the subject of debate. Some even wondered whether or not this could be Lamas’ final appearance in the cage. However, “The Bully” put the retirement talk to bed, as he dominated Elkins for two-plus rounds before securing a technical knockout in the last minute of the fight.
Lamas leaned on a smart, measured approach. He hurt Elkins with early leg kicks and had him hobbling around the cage while he tried to fend off his strikes. Lamas remained patient throughout and allowed the fight to come to him, making for one of the best performances of his UFC tenure. The finishing sequence was tough to stomach. Lamas found himself on top of a bloodied and battered Elkins, as he fired away with ground-and-pound, sensed the end was near and began pouring on punishment. Soon after, referee Keith Peterson stepped in to save Elkins from further damage.
The win gave Lamas seven finishes in the UFC’s featherweight division. Afterward, he credited the victory to “patient, calculated violence.”
Johnny Walker headed into his promotional debut opposite Khalil Rountree at a distinct disadvantage. Rountree, a seven-fight UFC veteran, walked out to the familiar feeling of the lights of the “big show” -- a spectacle Walker had yet to experience in his 17-fight MMA career. Nevertheless, Walker stepped to the Argentina crowd dancing, a smile plastered to his face, and knocked out Rountree in quick and brutal fashion on the heels of a successful appearance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series in Brazil.
The 6-foot-6 Walker stayed long and rangy, looking to keep Rountree on the outside and unable to find the chin with his signature power punches. Walker initiated first contact, leaping in with a head kick and then a barrage of punches that backed Rountree to the cage before snatching a collar tie. From there, it was all Walker, as he bounced an elbow off of Rountree’s head that had the fighter on shaky legs. A subsequent elbow connected with even greater force and rendered Rountree unconscious. Just like that, the UFC’s light heavyweight division had an intriguing new talent at its disposal. It marked Walker’s 14th finish in 15 professional wins.
Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series alum Ian Heinisch took home a unanimous decision over Cezar Ferreira in a short-notice replacement bout that came together after the Brazilian’s original opponent withdrew due to injury. Heinisch’s shining moment in the bout came at the buzzer in the second round, where he dropped “Mutante” with punches … Marlon Vera submitted hometown favorite Guido Cannetti via rear-naked choke in the second round. After a first round that saw Vera neutralized, he came out with renewed vigor in the second, peppering Cannetti with strikes until he found himself dazed on the ground. Vera then capitalized and moved in for the finish…. Cynthia Calvillo made her return to the Octagon following a United States Anti-Doping Agency suspension for a positive drug test stemming from marijuana consumption. Despite missing weight and looking worse for wear while doing so, Calvillo was dominant against Poliana Botelho once the fight hit the mat, sinking a quick rear-naked choke to rebound from the first loss of her professional career…. Michel Prazeres blitzed right through Bartosz Fabinski, marching forward and dropping his opponent with an overhand right. He briefly attempted to pound out his opponent with strikes but quickly switched to an arm-in guillotine choke, rolling to full mount and prompting the tap. The win gave Prazeres an eight-fight winning streak.