Sunday night was a tough one for SBG Ireland, as two of the gym’s representatives incurred devastating defeats on the UFC Fight Night show at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow.
After Charlie Ward suffered a savage, unusual and rather unlucky knockout loss to promotional newcomer Galore Bofando during the prelims, Icelandic welterweight Gunnar Nelson was finished for the first time in his professional career by Argentine puncher Santiago Ponzinibbio in the evening’s main event. Both were first-round KO’s.
With the loss, Ward dropped to 0-2 in the UFC, while Nelson had an impressive two-fight winning-run snapped and fell to 7-3 in the world’s premier MMA promotion.
After the fight, Nelson gave credit to his South American conqueror but he did point out that Ponzinibbio had gotten away with a foul. However, the stoic submission specialist assigned more of the blame for the loss to himself than the official who missed the alleged infraction.
“I don’t like to make excuses, but this is the truth, how I feel anyway, is I should have stopped the fight when I got poked,” Nelson said. “I should have stopped it then because I’m seeing two Ponzinibbios in front of me. And that was like that until I remember standing up and the fight was over.”
“I should have stopped it then and I’m not saying, like, he did a good job and maybe it would have happened anyway,” he added. “Maybe my reflexes just wouldn’t have been enough to move away from the punch, but this is how I felt, like, I’m kind of kicking myself in the head for not just stopping the fight and being greedy, because I caught him and I thought he was on the run.”
“I should have just stopped the fight, recovered my eye, and carried on from there, but I didn’t, and here we are now. You win or you learn, and I’ll definitely learn from this(Transcription via MMAFighting).”
Early in the fight, there was a moment following an exchange where one could clearly see Nelson rubbing his eye and it did appear as though he was the victim of a poke. A video that Nelson’s coach John Kavanagh shared on Twitter on Monday leaves no doubt. In fact, this video shows that Nelson was forced to endure multiple eye-pokes in the brief but brutal contest, including during the finishing sequence.
“Doubt it was gameplan or intentional but try having depth perception after getting fingers shoved in eyes repeatedly,” wrote Kavanagh.
Doubt it was gameplan or intentional but try having depth perception after getting fingers shoved in eyes repeatedly https://t.co/66H6YrTT6T
— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) July 17, 2017
Ponzinibbio, who has now scored five consecutive wins since a stoppage defeat to Lorenz Larkin in June of 2015, dismissed the notion that eye-pokes had played a role in the most significant victory of his career thus far.
“If (the eye poke) happened, of course it wasn’t intentional, but I watched the video again and didn’t see it,” he told MMAFighting. “I don’t know. But it was a knockout with the right hand that I landed on him. The right hand hurt him and I finished with a precise jab.”
“It doesn’t take anything away from the win. What he says doesn’t change anything. There’s a referee inside the Octagon looking at it, and he can stop the fight any time he wants. The No. 8 in the world lasted 82 seconds.”
Maybe Ponzinibbio should take a quick look at the video above.
Before the fight, UFC analyst Dan Hardy touted the power and speed of Ponzinibbio’s right hand and it was that very shot which first put ‘Gunni’ on rubbery legs. It was a left-hand, however, that essentially finished the job moments later and gave Ponzinibbio the 14th KO/TKO victory of his professional career.