THE UFC train rolled into Glasgow’s SSE Hydro and it left with Argentina’s Santiago Ponzinibbio as its happiest passenger, following his stunning first round stoppage victory over Gunnar Nelson which shattered the Icelander’s usual icy glare.
This was Nelson’s big opportunity to propel himself into the title mix at welterweight but, in less than 90 seconds, the #14 ranked Argentine hurt with him a big right hand, before a left jab put “Gunni” down and out, with the referee no choice to step in.
With the win, Ponzinibbio has put himself in line for a big fight in the 170lb division and will almost certainly replace Nelson in the rankings at #8 or possibly higher. He improves his winning streak to five on the bounce and earned himself an extra Performance of the Night bonus.
Joanne Calderwood’s bad week got worse, as she suffered a unanimous decision defeat in front of her hometown crowd to the fast-rising prospect Cynthia Calvillo in the women’s strawweight division. The Team Alpha Male star won by points margins of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
It was the third win of 2017 for Calvillo, whose ground game was enough to secure her the victory, almost submitting Calderwood at the end of the first and third rounds, demonstrating her undoubted talent when the fight goes to the mat.
Calderwood did well to survive on the floor, especially in the third, but a move up to the newly formed flyweight division will do wonders for her. She failed to make the weight for this clash, sacrificing 20% of her purse, as it was amended to an 118lb catchweight clash.
It compounded what was a bad night on the main card for Scottish stars, as lightweight Stevie Ray and light heavyweight Paul Craig both failed to make it out of the first round at The Hydro. Ray, who was fighting out his UFC contract after failing to agree a new deal, was viciously stopped by Paul Felder.
The two were in a clinch on the cage, before “The Irish Dragon” unleashed a huge knee from out of nowhere, that ironed out “Braveheart” and then he got the job done with some nasty elbows to silence the home crowd. Felder dedicated the win to his late Father and was rewarded with a Performance of the Night bonus.
As for Craig, he never settled against Khalil Rountree, who walked him down, before catching him with a swift left uppercut and hammering him into defeat on the ground. It was a second loss on the spin for Craig in the Octagon, after his loss to Tyson Pedro at UFC 209 back in March, whilst Rountree picked up his second win on the bounce. It’s hard to see where he goes next.
Rounding off the main card, was a points win for Welsh middleweight Jack Marshman in a close contest with Ryan Janes. Marshman took the decision 29-28 on all three cards, whilst Sunderland’s James Mulheron lost all three rounds to Justin Willis in a forgettable encounter at heavyweight.
The preliminary card was full of action that had you on the edge of your seat, led by welterweight Danny “Hot Chocolate” Roberts, who starched Bobby Nash, who was in control of the contest up to this point, with a monstrous left hand in the second round to get himself back in the winner’s circle.
Neil Seery’s farewell fight ended in an unfortunate defeat, as he was submitted in the third and final round by Alexandre Pantoja. The Irish flyweight has enjoyed a wonderful career, but it wasn’t to be in Glasgow, as Pantoja finally took it to the ground and locked in a rear naked choke that Seery had no choice but to tap out to.
In the Fight of the Night, Danny Henry survived a disastrous first round, before taking Daniel Teymur into deep waters for the first time in his career. The Edinburgh lightweight came through the storm and came close to stopping Teymur in a fight that enthralled the crowd. A well deserved bonus for both, as Henry took a unanimous decision, 29-28, 29-28 & 29-26 on the cards.
Finally, on the preliminary card, Galore Bofando was expected to provide fireworks on his Octagon debut, but nobody saw what would come next happening. Bofando threw Irishman Charlie Ward to the mat in their welterweight clash and that was all he needed to walk away with the victory, providing the crowd with an unforgettable moment which will no doubt be replayed over and over again.
The night started with two clashes on Fight Pass, headlined by Welsh bantamweight Brett Johns, who kept his unbeaten record intact with a dominant performance against Albert Morales. Johns took it 30-27, 30-27 and 30-25 on the cards, following his exceptional ground game that Morales had no answer for.
On the opening fight of the night, Leslie Smith proved too much for UFC debutant Amanda Lemos in the women’s bantamweight division, taking advantage of the fading Brazilian and sending her packing with some solid striking on the cage in the second round.