Sunday, July 16th, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland for the UFC Fight Night 113: “Nelson vs Ponzinibbio” by Daniel Tom

The opinions expressed in this free content are for entertainment purposes only, as my goal here is to provide analysis for those who enjoy the technical or gaming aspects of our sport. If you choose to gamble, I recommend doing so responsibly and legally as it is at your own risk. Enjoy the fights!

Gunnar Nelson (16-2-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 28 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Alan Jouban (3-18-17)
  • Camp: SBG Ireland (Iceland)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   Brown Belt Karate
+   4 KO victories
+   11 Submission wins
+   11 first round finishes
+   Good footwork
^   Deceptive distance closer
+   Accurate shot selection
^   Well-timed cross (both sides)
+   Solid wrestling ability
^   Strong from the clinch
+   Superb top game
^   Seamless transitions & passes
–    Low standing guard
^   Counter availabilities

Santiago Ponzinibbio (24-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 30 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Nordine Taleb (2-19-17)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   13 KO victories
+   6 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Strong pace & pressure
+   Excellent combination striker
^   High-volume / variating attacks
+   Accurate R. cross—L. hook
+   Strikes well of the breaks
+   Shows wrestling improvements
^   Good get-up urgency
+/-Will turtle / tripod to stand
+/-Aggressive in exchanges
^   Counter availabilities

Summary:

The main event in Glasgow features a fun fight in the welterweight division as Gunnar “Gunni” Nelson takes on Santiago “Gente Boa” Ponzinibbio.

One of the few fighters of today who can carry a certain level of mystique to them, Gunnar Nelson has been able to do just that thus far in his UFC tenor. Earning himself a top-10 ranking and seeking bigger fights in the process, Nelson will now get another shot in the main event spotlight to make his statement.

Standing in the Icelander’s way is Santiago Ponzinibbio, an underrated threat at 170-pounds who has been consistently putting on shows with his all-action style. Thrashing his way into his first UFC main event slot, Ponzinibbio will have the chance to make his presence known by scoring the upset here.

Starting off on the feet — we have a battle between a slick, Karate-style striker, and a pressure-fighting kickboxer, who primarily likes to throw hands.

Despite the effectiveness of Nelson’s Karate style often being overlooked, I give the edge to Ponzinibbio as I feel he is the more well-rounded striking threat. Although he is a pressure fighter by nature, Ponzinibbio has also shown the ability to stick-and-move when facing fighters who pose grappling threats, as I presume he will enact a similar approach against Nelson.

Whether he is feinting his way forward or moving laterally, Ponzinibbio does an excellent job of keeping his feet beneath him, and not wasting his economy of motion as the Argentine slips his head off the centerline in unison with his patent cross–hook continuums.

Ponzinibbio’s improvements to his head movement aside, his aggression ultimately makes him susceptible to shots as check-jabs and hooks from the left side seem to be his common-culprit. And considering that Nelson is competent with his left from both stances, these shots could be worth watching for from the Icelander.

No stranger to switching his stances mid-fight, Nelson demonstrates a preternatural sense of range as he consistently flirts just outside of striking distance, whether he is on his front foot or back. Keeping a spring in his step –– as well as a cross cocked at all times, Nelson always seems to be a trigger pull away from catching his opponents off guard, as he typically does.

However, regardless of Nelson’s ability to hold his own on the feet, I feel this fight will ultimately hinge on Ponzibbio’s defensive wrestling game.

Making marked improvements to his wrestling since moving shop to American Top Team, Ponzinibbio has been able to funnel the majority of his fights into his comfort zone. Though the Argentine’s upgraded shot defense has still shown to be susceptible at times, he does a good job of fighting hands to stand as his urgency is also apparent.

That said, Ponzibbio also has a propensity to turtle out and or tripod up to get back to his feet, which is fine against the majority of MMA competitors –– but an arguable death sentence against a good back-taker.

In facing Gunnar Nelson, Ponzibbio’s best bet will be grip-fighting and circling any chance he gets, and making the Icelander pay with punishing strikes off the break. But that may be easier said than done as Nelson is both a competent striker and wrestler inside the clinch.

In fact, Nelson has recently shown a bit more process and emphasis in his wrestling offense, taking a shot or countering caught kicks when available. And aside from the fact that he gets the majority of his takedowns from the clinch, Nelson is also very opportunistic with his front-headlock, which could come into play considering that Ponzinibbio tends to dip his head off the breaks.

Should Nelson successfully ground Ponzinibbio, the Argentine’s chances will likely begin to slim. Not to discount Ponzinibbio –– who has strong hips and an underrated game to boot –– but Nelson is on a different level as his style of grappling allows him to stay a step ahead.

Wielding a top game that seems seamless in the way in which it marries transition to position, Nelson will sneakily allow just enough space for his opposition to escape, only to lead them into deeper positional waters as he typically directs traffic to his opponent’s back. Of course, if the Argentine allows the Icelander to get that far into his game –– then it will likely be checkmate.

However, if Ponzinibbio shows answers to Nelson’s counter crosses and takedown attempts in the first round, then this fight should step up in temperature as the second round is usually where the Argentine gets his rhythm going. And even though I could see Ponzinibbio having a surprising amount of success early en route to a building victory, I ultimately feel that the openings will be too potent for the opportunistic Icelander as his style will likely dictate the terms of this fight.

Official Pick: Nelson – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Ponzinibbio – KO (round 1)


Joanne Calderwood (11-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 30 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 65″
  • Last Fight: Submission loss / Jessica Andrade (9-10-16)
  • Camp: Tristar Gym ( Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   19-2 as a Pro Kickboxer
+   5 KO victories
+   3 first round finishes
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Throws w/volume & variety
^   Variates well to the body
+   Accurate knees & teeps
^   In close & off the shuffle
+   Strong clinch game
^   Solid elbows
+   Underrated grappling
^   Good positional awareness
+   Improved wrestling
+/-Willingness to exchange

Cynthia Calvillo (5-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 30 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 64″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Pearl Gonzalez (4-8-17)
  • Camp: Team Alpha Male (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Amateur MMA Accolades
+   2 Submission wins
+   2 KO victories
+   1 first round finishes
+   Aggressive pace & pressure
+/-Developing striking game
^   Puts together punches well
+   Strong wrestling ability
^   Defensively & offensively
+   Excellent transitional grappling
^   Good positional awareness
+   Works well from front-headlock
^   Threatens chokes / looks for back
+   Effective ground striker
^   Dangerous elbows

Summary:

The co-main event in Glasgow features a potential barnburner at strawweight as Joanne Calderwood welcomes Cynthia Calvillo to her backyard.

One of the top picks for success since the UFC’s inception of the strawweight division, Joanne Calderwood has had her share of ups and downs during her tenor with the organization thus far. Recently moving shop to Tristar Gym in Montreal for the past couple of camps, we have since seen a rejuvenated Calderwood as she seeks consistency in front of her home country.

Standing in the Scots way is the undefeated Cynthia Calvillo. A hot prospect who has only been a professional since 2016, Calvillo is currently looking down the barrel of a three-fight UFC winning streak, despite only making her debut with the organization four months ago.

Starting off on the feet — we essentially have a developing, scrappy striker, versus an experienced Muay Thai tactician.

Though I expect Calvillo to continue her fight-to-fight improvements on the feet, it is clear that Calderwood should have the on-paper advantage striking. At a distance, Calderwood commands an impressive and seemingly growing arsenal of attacks.

Whether it’s her knees and Thai kicks off of the shuffle, or her newly sharpened spinning attacks, Calderwood will have a solid choice of weaponry as she should hold the advantage at range. And with Calvillo’s usual approach of blitzing combinations in mind, I expect Calderwood’s patent teep kick to be at play as well as her improved jab.

However, I would not be surprised to see the Scot throw her leg and body kicks sparingly, as Calvillo has shown a knack for catching kicks and countering them. In fact, most of Calvillo’s recent takedown attempts have come in this fashion.

Considering that the ground is where sharks like Calvillo swim the best, I suspect Calderwood will be doing all she can to avoid her opponents strengths –– which is why I believe this battle will hinge upon the wrestling exchanges.

Albeit a small sample size(which is often the case with these developing divisions), Calvillo demonstrates competent wrestling abilities offensively, and particularly defensively. From her regional fights to her UFC debut against Amanda Cooper, Calvillo displays a slick sense of mind as she parlays opponent’s single-leg takedowns into back-takes, and her sprawls into a front-headlock series –– a game that is growing at a rapid rate under the care of Team Alpha Male.

The problem, in my opinion, is that her offensive shots –– something she will likely need against Calderwood –– have yet to be proven against top competition.

A strong, athletic fighter for the strawweight division, Calderwood’s Muay Thai base carries over quite well in the clinch/wrestling departments of MMA. Even when taken down, which is seldom, Calderwood displays her in-cage awareness by consistently using the fence to stand, something that comes in handy against aggressive back takers.

That said, Calderwood will be in much deeper waters should she give up a takedown in the open to Calvillo. We saw Calderwood elect to use a single-leg get up(a technique I particularly like in MMA) in her last bout as she attempted to get back up and into the fight, but it cost her as Jessica Andrade countered beautifully with a Guillotine choke.

If Calvillo can comfortably ground Calderwood with time to work, then we will likely see why she is favored to win this bout as the Northern California native, to me, shows a grappling IQ well beyond her years. From the small details in her leg dexterity and lever-awareness to her mind seemingly being two steps ahead, I suspect a star on the rise no matter the outcome of this bout.

But alas, I am forced to make a pick in what I feel is a much closer fight than the current odds portray. With the looming submission threat at play, I can see why the oddsmakers or public would side with Calvillo. However, if she cannot successfully get Calderwood down in the first round, then I see this potentially becoming a tough fight for Calvillo stylistically.

Though I expect to see an improved version of her on the feet, Calvillo tends to get a bit exaggerated in her head movement, which not only doesn’t help defend teeps –– but it, more importantly, can open one up for head kicks. And despite showing the dogged nature to pursue a final round finish in her last bout, Calvillo’s stamina did not reflect as well standing, as her strike output began to drop come the second round.

In facing a fighter who comes from a Muay Thai background, Calderwood’s pace and precision only grow as the fight goes on, which could be troublesome for Calvillo if this turns into a three round striking affair. And though I could see Calderwood reminding us to, once again, pump the breaks on a fast-rising female star, I will reluctantly side with Calvillo to come out on top of a competitive fight –– finding a submission inside the scramble.

Official Pick: Calvillo – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Calvillo – Decision


Stevie Ray (21-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 27 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Joe Lauzon (4-29-17)
  • Camp: Higher Level MMA (Scotland)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management:Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Former BAMMA Lightweight Champ
+   Former Cage Warriors Lightweight Champ
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   6 KO victories
+   8 Submission wins
+   9 first round finishes
+   Improved feints & footwork
+   Accurate left cross
^   Heavy right hook follow-ups
+   Hard left body kick
+   Strong inside the clinch
+   Solid top game / smothering pressure
+   Improved wrestling transitions
+   Effective ground striker
+   Good chin & cardio

Paul Felder (13-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 32 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Alessandro Ricci (2-19-17)
  • Camp: Roufusport (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Black Belt Tae Kwon Do
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   8 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   3 first round finishes
+   Solid feints & footwork
+   Diverse striking arsenal
^   Accurate spinning attacks
+   Dangerous knees & elbows
+   Underrated grappling ability
^   Shows sub acumen & awareness
+   Good butterfly guard / get-ups
+/-Willingness to trade
^   Solid chin / physically durable

Summary:

In what is my pick for fight of the night, Stevie “Braveheart” Ray will go to war with Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder.

Looming just outside of the tall and treacherous wall that is the lightweight rankings, Stevie Ray will look to make himself known to the top-15 with a statement win over one of the division’s toughest competitors.

A martial artist since a young age, Paul Felder has successfully brought in his styles and influences into the Octagon, making a name for himself as an unabashed striker whose willingness to trade has kept him in the good graces of fans and organizations alike.

Starting off on the feet, we have a matchup between a mobile, southpaw striker, versus a Muay Thai stylist that mixes in his traditional martial arts base.

As the more typical stalker, Felder will throw his diverse arsenal of attacks off of feints and shuffle-steps forward. Mixing in accurate spinning attacks from his Tae Kwon Do base, Felder’s ability to keep himself on balance and reset is very impressive from a technical standpoint.

Felder’s spinning attacks may also come in handy against Ray, as it can dissuade a southpaw from trying to gain an advantage off of his weak side. That said, Felder has admitted that he can become predictable in his overall movement, and he has subsequently struggled with technically proficient strikers who can counter(Edson Barboza & Ross Pearson).

Despite trying to adjust and upgrade his style through working with Mark Henry & company, we would see Felder struggle to get off from a slightly lowered stance in subsequent bouts.

Now, in what will be his second straight camp at Roufusport, I suspect we will continue to see the improvements Felder showed in his last outing against Alessandro Ricci.

Appearing much more comfortable entering the pocket from his more traditional stance, Felder would work behind his feinting left-hand, sitting down on check hooks and elbows when appropriate. His finishing blow aside, Felder’s improvements to his left hand ultimately seemed to allow him to get a better beat on his right hand.

Regardless of the route Felder chooses to approach with here, he will first need to get a measure on Ray, who I see having a slight edge in the movement department of this matchup.

Demonstrating marked improvements to his footwork in recent fights, Ray has allowed his striking-repertoire the air it needs to breathe as he measures distance appropriately, as well as moving laterally with effect. The Scotsman has also shown the ability to get away from his brawling nature, and instead stick-and-move as I see that serving him well in this fight.

Felder, who does his best work when his opposition obliges his forward pressure, does not necessarily do the best job of funneling other fighters to fight his fight. Should he get agitated by Ray’s movement and or chase, Felder could get more than he bargains for in regards to what’s coming back at him.

Despite Ray sometimes keeping a low-lead hand, he uses it to counter from deceptive angles as he wields a check hook that is in a similar spirit to Luke Rockhold’s. Utilizing it to counter effectively, Felder will need to be on best behavior whenever entering the pocket to attack.

The Scotsman also throws an excellent body kick that could see some light in this fight. Although Felder is the more diverse kicker, he has a tendency to revert to trunk and head movement when attempting to avoid offense.

Not only is this troubling when you consider that he typically does so with a low guard, but Felder’s core also tends to remain in the same place when enacting this defense –– as body shots could pay dividends for the more mobile Ray.

Given each fighter’s propensity to trade, I do not suspect much of this fight to take place on the floor. However, I do feel that the Scotsman will have more motive in taking it there given the outline of this matchup.

Not only is Ray a physical force and athlete for this division, but he also possesses some underrated grappling and clinch skills that have earned him a lot of his success, particularly against the fence.

Outside of late takedowns to steal rounds, I could also see the Scotsman go to his grappling should the striking stanzas not go his way. And if Ray can get Felder against the fence, then we may see him begin to take the path of previous Felder opponents, grinding the fight out of the American in an attempt to take away his momentum.

Even though I feel Felder is an underrated grappler himself, we have seen him struggle with pressuring fighters like Francisco Trinaldo –– who albeit a strong clinch fighter–– still lacks the overall threats Ray presents in the grappling realm as that fight could be a sign of things to come here.

Felder has a serviceable butterfly-guard to go along with his get-up urgency, but it is the American’s defensive wrestling that will likely be tested in this battle, especially if the rounds are close.

And if Felder does find himself firmly grounded, the Scotsman he is facing does an excellent job when operating from the top position. Demonstrating a solid understanding of shoulder pressure for pinning and passing purposes, Ray is an effective smotherer who has shown improvements in transitioning with his strikes.

In a fight that I feel will be a competitive, blood-and-guts affair, is only reaffirmed by the betting lines as Stevie Ray –– who initially opened as the underdog –– is now sitting firmly as the favorite.

Given the closeness on paper, I do not blame you for passing from a gaming aspect here. Both men are durable and adversity-tested, as I see this one probably going to the scorecards. For that reason, I will be siding with the more well-rounded fighter as I see Ray’s movement standing –– to his smothering game in close, posing problems and making the difference down the stretch.

Official Pick: Ray – Decision

Official Outcome: Felder – KO (round 1)

Main Card Predictions:

  • Nelson def. Ponzinibbio
  • Calvillo def. Calderwood
  • Ray def. Felder
  • Marshman def. Jaynes
  • Rountree jr. def. Craig
  • Willis def. Mulheron

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Roberts def. Nash
  • Pantoja def. Seery
  • Bofando def. Ward
  • Teymur def. Henry
  • Johns def. Morales
  • Smith def. Lemos

Dan’s Plays:

(*like my breakdowns, these are for your reference & entertainment)

Props worth looking at(@ 5Dimes.eu):

-Marshman ITD -165 (0.5 Unit)
-Ray by Decision +110 (0.25 Unit)
-Nelson by Submission +120 (0.25 Unit)

Playable parlay pieces(My most confident favorites within play):

-Alexandre Pantoja
-Brett Johns

Straight plays:

-Stevie Ray -165 (0.5 Unit)
-Gunnar Nelson -175 (0.5 Unit)

Fights to avoid(live dogs, inflated lines, high intangibles, etc.):

-Mulheron vs Willis
-Ward vs Bofando
-Henry vs Teymur
-Smith vs Lemos

For further technical and betting analysis, listen and subscribe to: The Protect Ya’ Neck Podcast and for future & past UFC breakdowns, stay tuned to: MixedMartialAnalyst.com


  • Binho Vianna

    You’re going to lose an excellent bet on Leslie …


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