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Welterweight contender Santiago Ponzinibbio will make a return against Muslim Salikhov on Jan. 16

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight contender Santiago Ponzinibbio, who at one point was ranked as high as No. 7 at 170 pounds, is expected to make his Octagon return against Russian bruiser Muslim Salikhov at the upcoming “Fight Night” event on Jan. 16 in Las Vegas.

Ponzinibbio

UFC welterweight contender Santiago Ponzinibbio is expected to make his long-awaited return to the Octagon in 2021. According to Carlos Contreras Legaspi, Ponzinibbio will be facing Russian Muslim Salikhov at UFC Fight Night 187 on January 16, 2021.

When Ponzinibbio enters the Octagon in 2021, it will have been over two years since he last saw action. The Argentine last competed back in November of 2018, knocking out Neil Magny in the fourth round.

The last two years have been quite rough for Ponzinibbio, who had to battle through a series of injuries and health problems, not to mention testing positive for the dreaded COVID-19 virus earlier this year. Prior to the lengthy layoff however, Ponzinibbio was on track to becoming a top contender in the UFC’s stacked welterweight division.

Ponzinibbio

After losing to Ryan LaFlare in his UFC debut back in 2013, Ponzinibbio has won nine of his last ten bouts, and is currently on a seven-fight winning streak with wins against the likes of Court McGee, Zak Cummings, Nordine Taleb, Gunnar Nelson, Mike Perry, and most recently, Magny.

Santiago, who earned his spot in the UFC through his appearance on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, was also a fixture in the top ten of the UFC’s welterweight rankings before being scratched off due to his inactivity.

2021: The year of Ponzinibbio ?

Returning Argentinian welterweight contender Santiago Ponzinibbio will immediately be getting a tough test in his Octagon return in the form of Dagestan’s Muslim Salikhov, who’s on a winning streak of his own.

Ponzinibbio

Salikhov a multiple-time Wushu Sanda world champion, made his UFC debut back in 2017, losing to Alex Garcia by submission in the second round. Since then, he has recorded four consecutive victories including back-to-back knockout victories over Ricky Rainey and Nordine Taleb, followed by a unanimous decision victory over Laureano Starpoli.

In his most recent outing last July, Salikhov defeated Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos via split decision. The UFC event on Jan. 16 will also feature a bantamweight showdown pitting Ricky Simon against Brian Kelleher, while Justin Tafa collides with Carlos Felipe in heavyweight action.

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