Geoff Neal edged out Santiago Ponzinibbio via split-decision in a competitive striking battle tonight at UFC 269.
Cautious start as Ponzinibbio stays light on his feet on the outside and Neal works a few feints. Now Neal lands a couple of leg kicks from range.
Head kick attempt from Neal is blocked. Ponzinibbio reaching with his fingers out and the ref warns him.
Straight right from Ponzinibbio on the reset. Now a right hook from Neal. leg kicks exchanged. Ponzinibbio avoids a one-two from Neal. Neal works a head kick that was threatening to break through Ponzinibbio’s guard.
Ref warns Ponzinibbio again about leading with his fingers. Head kick attempt from Neal again. Overhand right from Ponzinibbio. He misses with a spinning backfist.
Short right hand from Ponzinibbio. Now a longer one behind the jab. Short right hook from Neal. He presses into range and lands that again.
Left hand from Ponzinibbio. Neal pumps out a few punches to set up a head kick attempt. Ponzinibbio with a couple of jabs and then a wide left hook.
Neal often looking for head kick attempts here. Leg kick from him strays to the groin and Ponzinibbio needs some time to recover.
Right hand from Ponzinibbio when they restart and then a couple more punches behind it off the guard. He lands again. Now a right hook from the Argentinian to end the round.
Ponzinibbio picking up the pace, looking to continue the momentum from the end of the previous round. He lands a right hand. Now a couple of leg kicks as well as the punches.
Another leg kick from Ponzinibbio, but Neal checks it this time. Head kick attempt from Neal doesn’t pay off. Punch from Ponzinibbio and then avoids the counter.
Right hand for Ponzinibbio. Body kick for Neal. High guard from Neal and Ponzinibbio attempts to get a hook past it.
Now Ponzinibbio changes things up by looking for a takedown. Neal attempting to fend it off against the cage, but then is taken down. Neal quickly manages to works his way back to his feet though.
left hand for Neal. Ponzinibbio lands to the body and then a hook upstairs. Again a punch to the boddy from him. Two punches upstairs. Inside leg kick for Ponzinibbio.
Short flurry of punches at clsoe range from Neal. Double jab and a left hand from Neal. Two hard right hands from Ponzinibbio. Now a leg kick.
Ponzinibbio backing up trying to work the jab, but then Neal gets into range and lands a punch. Ponzinibbio complains that it was an eyepoke, but the ref doesn’t agree. Blood now trickling from Ponzinibbio’s right eye.
Neal lands a good punch. That seems to fire up Ponzinibbio though and he lands a big punch of his own. Leg kick for him as the action heats up in the final seconds.
Right hand for Ponzinibbio. He picks his spot for another good right hand. Neal fires off a body kick. Body punch from Ponzinibbio. Neal lands a hard right hook and Ponzinibbio is backing up looking troubled. Neal attempts to capitalize.
Another right hand for Neal. Ponzinibbio still light on his feet and mobile. Right hand and a left from Ponzinibbio. Neal presses forward with a flurry of punches and then a head kick attempt.
Another right hand for Neal. Straight right for Ponzinibbio. Ponzinibbio with a left and then a body punch. One-two for Ponzinibbio.
Neal lands a punch but Ponzinibbio was landing a combo at the same time as he looks to out-volume his opponent.
Neal tags him with a punch. Ponzinibbio landing a big leg kick. Now another one. Right hand for Ponzinibbio gets through.
Solid straight left for Neal. Three-piece combo for Neal gets through. He lands another and Ponzinibbio seems a bit compromised, but still comes forward anyway.
Light strikes from Ponzinibbio but Neal is applying more power to his punches. However, now Ponzinibbio is looking to get some momentum back as he starts to put more into his own punches in the final seconds of the fight, then lands a final leg kick that Neal definitely felt there.
Hard-fought battle here then with Neal getting the better of the first round, Ponzinibbio then coming on stronger in the second. That resulted in a competitive final round that Neal appeared to edge by landing the harder-hitting blow, leading him to edge out a split decision victory (28-29, 30-27, 29-28).