One fight stood out head and shoulders above the rest at Saturday’s UFC Vegas 55.
The welterweight co-main event between #14-ranked Santiago Ponzinibbio and Michel Pereira, himself looking to break into the rankings, lived up to expectations and then some. With less flash than usual perhaps, Pereira nonetheless showed ample heart and a solid chin, going toe-to-toe with Ponzinibbio through three rounds.
Early on, Argentina’s Ponzinibbio appeared to be swinging for the fences, which allowed Pereira to get out to an early lead. “Demolidor” rocked his opponent towards the end of the first, but Ponzinibbio regained his composure, and by the third round, was turning up the heat. Pereira, game to the end, won the split decision — and with five straight wins should finally crack the top 15.
The pair will share in the Fight of the Night at UFC Vegas 55, pocketing an extra $50,000 a piece. Performance of the Night bonuses, meanwhile, went to Chase Hooper and Chidi Njokuani.
Chidi “Bang Bang” lived up to his nickname, crushing Dusko Todorovic with a standing elbow in the clinch in the opening round of their middleweight fight. It took Chase Hooper until the third round to put away his own opponent, Flipe Colares, but he found the finish as well. The 22-year old featherweight was fluid in his transitions, absolutely dominating on the ground before finishing the fight with ground n’ pound.