Santiago Ponzinibbio reveals what coaches said to get him fired up for third-round knockout over Alex Morono


Coming off two straight losses, Santiago Ponzinibbio approached his fight at UFC 282 with a do-or-die mentality. He needed a win and there was no other alternative he’d accept.

Unfortunately, disaster struck just days out from his return after former UFC champion Robbie Lawler was knocked out of their fight with an injury, which left Ponzinibbio in limbo without an opponent. The UFC called Ponzinibbio with an offer to fight Alex Morono in a 180-pound matchweight bout with only six days until the event.

” “Everything has changed,” Ponzinibbio stated to MMA Fighting. They changed their opponent. I had Robbie Lawler, a southpaw, and they booked me [against] a young guy who won eight out of his last 10 fights, four victories in a row. Robbie Lawler, an ex-champion, is one of the bigger names. Morono is the name that gives you momentum throughout your career. Morono is the one I believe has the momentum, and I feel I faced a harder challenge.

” I needed victory. Everything changed for me at the last minute, they give me more stress for sure, but I believe in myself. I’m a fighter. It’s something I feel I can do and I won the fight .”

While time was with him after organizing a complete training camp, Ponzinibbio was shocked at Morono’s quick start. The aggressive American set the pace and established a strong game plan. Morono seemed to land the best punches, and he put Ponzinibbio back on his heels. This was unexpected for the Argentine.

Still, Ponzinibbio felt he made a good showing for himself, especially in the second round, although he couldn’t be certain — and after losing two split decisions in a row, there was absolutely no room for error this time around.

Despite feeling that the fight was tied, Ponzinibbio’s coach told him otherwise in rather emphatic fashion during the one-minute break before the third round.

“I asked to my main coach, ‘How do you think the fight is going?’ He told me 2-0,” Ponzinibbio revealed. My coach said that we were down two rounds. Two rounds for [Morono]. We’re down. We need to do something! I said, ‘OK, let’s go!’ I went into the third round to put the hard punches to finish the fight. I know if I connect, I can finish. Anyone in this division, if I connect hard, I can finish them. That’s what I did.

“It’s not easy. Ponzinibbio said that there is a lot information going around in your head. “I’m coming off two losses, I’m hurt, I’m tired. Although moves very well, it’s hard to accept this man . But that’s when we get hurt and use it. That’s the point where we say, ‘F*** it, I don’t care if I’m tired. This is what I am going to do. This is what I’m going to do.'”

His coach’s motivation paid off. Ponzinibbio took to the ring and scored a devastating knockout in round three. This stopped him from a third consecutive defeat. Ponzinibbio lost both rounds to two judges, as predicted by his coach. He had to win the final round to secure the victory.

The impact from his fight-ending right hand was so severe that Ponzinibbio thought he might have broken Morono’s jaw with the way Morono’s face contorted from the punch.

” I hit him with my right hand, and I could see the expression on his face,” Ponzinibbio stated. He’s suffering. He was in pain. I glanced at him. I threw the second right hand and he fell to the floor and I was ready to follow up with more punches, but the referee stopped the fight. I felt in the moment when I land my right hand that I was ready to finish the fight and I did.

” I saw my jaw move to one side, and thought it was broken. This is something I still remember very clearly. I’m trying to connect with one punch. He shifted his jaw to one side when I used my right hand strength. He fell to the ground .”

after I put my right hand in front of it.

It was a satisfying win that got Ponzinibbio back on track and put that two-fight losing streak behind him. Dana White, UFC President, praised Ponzinibbio’s performance and especially his reaction in the third round.

Now Ponzinibbio wants to continue his journey with the UFC in the hopes that he can build on the momentum from this fight and take aim again at ranked competition.

” I want to fight someone in the top 10 so that we can have an opportunity to get the belt soon,” Ponzinibbio stated. “A really fun fight we could do in the top 10 is Vicente Luque. Vicente Luque is a skilled striker. We can make a bonus fight for sure. Stephen Thompson is an excellent fight. There are many names in this division. While we will not know what the UFC thinks, I am very excited .”