The UFC’s famed octagon lands in Buenos Aires on Saturday night for UFC Fight Night 140 as fringe welterweight contenders Neil Magny and Santiago Ponzinibbio look to push themselves into the upper echelons of the UFC’s 170-pound division.
Here’s our look at the bouts to follow this weekend in Argentina.
A MAGNY-FICENT WIN?
American Neil Magny is a mainstay in the UFC’s welterweight division and one of the most active fighters in the UFC. He’s fought 16 times in the last four years, winning 13 and losing just three.
But Magny hasn’t yet managed to break into legitimate contention, and victory on Saturday against Ponzinibbio is absolutely vital to his chances of doing so.
Magny is as solid as they come, but after nearly six years in the UFC, time must surely be running out for the US Army Veteran as he looks to battle his way into bouts with the division’s biggest names.
He faces local hero Ponzinibbio, who trains out of American Top Team in Florida, but proudly represents his home nation of Argentina in the octagon.
Ponzinibbio is actually a year older than Magny, but his current form seems to have more momentum behind it as he looks to score a win over one of the most respected campaigners in the division.
Ponzinibbio’s high-pressure game has seen him register six straight wins in his last half-dozen fights and, fighting at home, he’s sure to be inspired by his fellow countrymen in the stands as he bids to make it seven in a row with victory against Magny.
Expect Ponzinibbio to be on top early on, but if Magny can overcome the first three rounds of high-paced pressure, the fight may swing in his favour in the fourth and fifth rounds.
Magny has excellent conditioning, and if he’s still in the fight at the end of the third, the 5/1 on a decision victory might start to look like excellent value.
To win – 3/10
To win by KO/TKO – 5/6
To win by decision – 4/1
To win by submission – 9/1
To win – 11/5
To win by KO/TKO – 11/1
To win by decision – 5/1
To win by submission – 17/2
“THE BULLY” VS “THE DAMAGE”
Perennial featherweight contender Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas returns to action desperate to get back to winning ways inside the octagon.
Lamas was surprisingly knocked out by Josh Emmett last December, then dropped a split decision to Mirsad Bektic in June, leaving him on the first losing streak of his career.
He gets the chance to get back on track on Saturday night, but he’s been handed arguably the toughest campaigner on the UFC roster as opposition.
Darren “The Damage” Elkins’ moniker could just as easily refer to the amount of punishment he soaks up in fights as it could the damage he dishes out himself.
The octagon veteran hasn’t been stopped in his last 11 fights and is looking to bounce back from a decision loss to Alex Volkanovski in his last outing.
With both men bringing come-forward, exciting fighting styles to Argentina in a bout neither man can really afford to lose, it should deliver a cracker of a co-main event.
To win – 4/9
To win by KO/TKO – 7/2
To win by decision – 8/5
To win by submission – 5/1
To win – 13/8
To win by KO/TKO – 9/1
To win by decision – 13/5
To win by submission – 14/1
Women’s strawweight Cynthia Calvillo arrived in the UFC as a hot prospect, but after kicking off her career with a hat-trick of impressive victories, she lost a unanimous decision to former world champion Carla Esparza, then tested positive for marijuana.
And at Friday’s weigh-ins for her bout this weekend, Calvillo missed weight by two pounds and looked worryingly bad on the scale. If she gets medically cleared to compete, it’s hard to believe that she’ll be competing at anything close to 100% on fight night.
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) November 16, 2018
And against Brazil’s Polyana Botelho, that’s not a good spot to be in.
Botelho made a successful first appearance in the UFC at UFC 216 last year, then followed up with a 33-second TKO finish of Syuri Kondo in Chile in May.
Her form demanded a step up in competition, and she will pose a real test for Calvillo this weekend.
Botelho is 4/9 to take the win, with Calvillo a 13/8 shot.