For the first time UFC will land in Argentina and Santiago Ponzinibbio He does not see time to enter the octagon this Saturday in Buenos Aires. He will face Neil Magny in the main fight of the night it will be another 11 fights, including a duel between the Brazilians Cezar Mutante and Ian Heinisch. The event will take place in Roca Park, an arena with a capacity of over 15,000 fans, at Youth Olympic Park.
"It's amazing how MMA has grown here, I see the recognition of people and I think it will be a night that will go down in history." Argentina has a culture of boxing and sport contact and fans enjoy MMA, enjoying great appreciation for this sport. I felt it this week, it had a promotion in Boca x River, and it reminds me very much of the arrival of the UFC in 2011 in Rio, "said Santiago.
He has a strong relationship with Brazil. Natural from La Plata, he practiced mixed martial arts, but in his city the modality was not yet very widespread. Then a friend invited him to Brazil and together they went by bus, and a friend paid for the ticket. Then Santiago decided to stay in Florianopolis and did not return to Argentina.
"I came to Brazil and camped on the beach to do a massage, I spent five months camping and to keep myself, I sold beer at the carnival, I bought craft in the center and sold the beach, I did a lot of things, it was my decision to try this I never asked anything for them, it was difficult at the time, but I'm quite an independent guy and I decided to turn my back on my best, "he said.
Living with a different culture, without money and without contact with the world of fighting, Santiago gradually approached the people he imagined as warriors. He asked where they were training, could he keep going until it worked. He started training and soon appeared in Team Tavares, when he got one of the 28 places in The Ultimate Fighter Brasil 2, a reality show in which talent was revealed. Everything went well in the show, but he broke his fist and could not play in the final. He still has a contract with UFC.
"I really had to fight a lot, I started in Argentina, but I did not have anything in my city, the level was low, so I decided to go deeper here, but with a heart, no contract, no money … to the beach I had to overcome many barriers, I did not have anyone contact, it was a different culture, but I overcame all adversities, "she recalls.
He currently lives in Miami and trains at the American Top Team, one of the most famous MMA teams in the world. "I'm happy and I can grow," he said. He came in six straight wins, has a record eight wins and two losses UFC (in MMA there are 26 wins and three defeats), but he has not fought since December last year. "It's 11 months, but I did a lot of exercise in the gym, I did a lot of sparring and I'm well prepared, this period without fighting was good for my body to rest," he explained.
In addition to seeking victory on Saturday, Santiago looks at the UFC central belt and knows that a positive result against a better rival like Magny can help in this endeavor. "My biggest goal is world championship title, I want to help develop a sport that I love so much in Latin America and I hope I will fight for the title in 2019," he said, citing his passion for two countries. "I represent Argentina and also Brazil, I love this country and then I became a player that I am today."
The fighter knows that when he enters the center of the audience, before he enters the octagon, the film will go over his head. And he hopes he has a happy ending. "Sometimes things did not go well, there were many difficulties, but I did not give up." Today I look back and see that everything was worth it, all my efforts. I am very pleased with the respect I have achieved and I am motivated to continue, "he warned.
"When I started, the sport was still small in my country, I came from a city that had nothing, but I did my work, and now with the arrival of UFC in Argentina it's another dream that's coming true, I really have to focus on the title after this. "