The UFC returns to the SECC Arena in Glasgow for the latest in its Fight Night series. Local favourite Joanne Calderwood co-main events a clash of the fringe Welterweights between Gunnar Nelson and Santiago Ponzinibbio.
As always, I’ll be giving you my picks for the best of the card and 5Dimes will be providing the odds.
Calderwood v Calvillo:
Glasgow’s very own Joanne ‘Jojo’ Calderwood makes her octagon return after taking some time out from a crushing defeat at the hands of Jessica Andrade. That fight propelled Andrade to a title shot and Calderwood to the back of the queue. It was the second UFC setback for Jojo after a shock loss to Maryna Moroz in Poland, a fight which was rumoured to hold a title shot for the Glaswegian if she won. She fought back to win two of her next three, taking her to 3-2 for the promotion. Calderwood is a fan favourite and the UFC would do whatever they could to get her matched with Jedrzejczyk in a striking clinic but she must prove that she deserves it.
Cynthia Calvillo made her UFC debut in March at UFC 209 and made such short work of her opponent that she was immediately drafted in to UFC 210 for her follow up appearance. In both fights she secured a dominant win by Rear Naked Choke to move to 5-0 and announce herself as a legit prospect in the Women’s 125lb division.
I am a huge fan of Calderwood but this is a bad matchup for her in so many ways. As a striker, Calderwood needs to keep this on the feet and not get dragged to the mat. When this happens, she is eventually outworked and will tap, as her two UFC defeats will demonstrate. Calvillo is from Alpha Male so has a ground game that is amongst the best that the Women’s division has to offer and it feels like only a matter of time before she gets this to her comfort zone. I’d love to see Jojo with her hand raised, but its Calvillo by submission all day long for me. If that line is unavailable, then inside the distance is the bet.
Recommendation: Calvillo wins inside distance– 2 units at +105 (21/20) @ 5Dimes
Nelson v Ponzinibbio:
Gunnar Nelson steps back into the octagon for the second time this year, but in a headline spot. In his last bout, a co-main event in London, he demonstrated his immensely slick BJJ when stunning Alan Jouban and slipping on the Rear Naked Choke to secure the victory. It was his second win in a row after losing a very one-sided decision to Demian Maia. In all bar a single win, which came via decision, his UFC victories have been by submission, showing that he is one of the most feared fighters at 170lbs when going to the ground. Both losses have come to excellent wrestlers and his opponent on Sunday may just prove to be as difficult a hurdle as Maia and Story.
Santiago Ponzinibbio made his promotional debut back in 2013 when he lost to Ryan LaFlare, but this doesn’t tell the full story. Ponzi was originally a finalist in TUF: Brazil, only to be forced out of the finale with a hand injury. This was a tournament that he would have been a heavy favourite to win. The loss to LaFlare was the first of two in the UFC and he has won six, moving to 6-2. Four wins on the bounce have put him on the cusp of the top ten, a position he is likely to secure with a win over Nelson.
A very tough fight to call as Nelson has their skillsets are very similar but fighting styles are the opposite. Nelson uses striking as a softener for the submission, but Ponzinibbio uses his striking as a method of victory. While both are black belts in BJJ I favour Gunni in this area but I don’t see him out striking his opponent. Ponzi has never tapped out yet and it would be a major achievement to see that happen this weekend. As a result, I’ll be making a small play on the Argentine as an underdog bet.
Recommendation: Santiago Ponzinibbio – 1 units at +140 (7/5) @ 5Dimes