Santiago Ponzinibbio sent a strong message to the welterweight division that he's gunning for anybody and everybody in the top 10 after he put on a stunning performance with a first-round knockout over Gunnar Nelson in the main event from Scotland on Sunday.
According to fantasy players, Ponzinibbio was a huge underdog, with only 16 percent picking him to win, but the Argentina native was clearly undeterred in his resolve to pull off the upset.
After a couple exchanges on the feet early, Ponzinibbio hurt Nelson with a looping right hand that sent the No. 8-ranked welterweight stumbling backwards towards the Octagon wall. Like a lion pouncing on its prey, Ponzinibbio quickly followed Nelson before unleashing a flurry of punches and then measuring a perfectly timed left hand straight down the middle that connected flush. Nelson crumbled to the mat as Ponzinibbio celebrated the biggest win of his UFC career.
In the co-main event, Cynthia Calvillo moved to 3-0 in her UFC career with a unanimous decision win over Scottish strawweight Joanne Calderwood in a hotly contested matchup. The fighters were so evenly matched that Calvillo and Calderwood had fantasy players split right down the middle, with 50 percent odds on each side. Ultimately, Calvillo got the job done with a strong striking attack combined with several submission attempts on the ground to pick up her third win in 2017.
While he was stepping into his opponent's backyard, Paul Felder put on one of his best performances to date as he absolutely crushed Stevie Ray with a brutal first-round knockout in their lightweight bout. Felder landed an early knee that put Ray on the ground before the American just pounded away with elbows until he got the finish. Despite fighting Ray on his home soil, Felder was a heavy favorite, with 70 percent of fantasy players picking him and another 47 percent picking him by knockout. Felder also earned the players who selected him an additional 120 points due to the close matchup on paper with Ray.
Jack Marshman had to fend off a late comeback from Ryan Janes to earn a unanimous decision win after 85 percent of fantasy players selected him, making the Welshman one of the biggest favorites on the main card.
Former Ultimate Fighter prospect turned light heavyweight terror Khalil Rountree Jr. picked up his second straight knockout win with a ferocious finish over local favorite Paul Craig. Rountree has looked better than ever in his past two fights, including the stunning finish against Craig while fighting in enemy territory. Rountree had a bonus worthy performance, with 62 percent of players picking him to win and another 67 percent correctly predicting he'd win by knockout. And the win earned another 120 points because it was such a tight matchup.
The heavyweights kicked things off on the main card with American Kickboxing Academy fighter Justin Willis earning a unanimous decision win over James Mulheron, with 73 percent of fantasy players picking him going into Sunday. Willis also earned those players picking him another 40 points because he won his UFC debut.
On the preliminary card, Danny Roberts pulled off one of his most impressive wins to date as he scored a thunderous knockout of Bobby Nash near his home in England. Roberts was one of the bigger favorites on the entire card, with 72 percent of fantasy players picking him to get the job done on Sunday.
Speaking of huge favorites, Alexandre Pantoja definitely had the odds on his side as he defeated Neil Seery with a rear naked choke. Pantoja was selected by a whopping 86 percent of fantasy players going up against Seery, who was making his final appearance inside the Octagon.
Newcomer Galore Bofando made quite an impression in his UFC debut as he took out Irish fighter Charlie Ward with one of the most creative knockouts in recent memory. After engaging in the clinch against the cage, Bofando tossed Ward face first into the mat, which rendered him unconscious as the fight was stopped early in the opening round. Bofando was a considerable underdog going into the fight, with only 34 percent of fantasy players picking him, but he not only got the win but also added an extra 40 points for those who selected him to win since it was his first fight in the UFC.
Another debuting fighter was also victorious on the prelims, as Danny Henry earned a unanimous decision victory over Daniel Teymur after only 30 percent of fantasy players picked him to win. Much like Bofando, Henry's win earned the players who picked him an extra 40 points in the competition.
On the early prelims, two favorites came through with flying colors as Brett Johns earned a lopsided win over Albert Morales with 59 percent of fantasy players selecting him while Leslie Smith earned a nasty TKO in her fight with newcomer Amanda Lemos after 68 percent of players picked her going into the event.
All told, eight favorites came away victorious according to the selections made by fantasy players, with three upsets taking place while Calvillo vs. Calderwood ended in a 50-50 split going into Sunday's card.