At UFC on ABC 1, the UFC kicks off the new year with a bang. The main event features a classic featherweight scrap between former champion Max “Blessed” Holloway (21-6 MMA, 17-6 UFC) and rising contender Calvin “The Boston Finisher” Kattar (22-4 MMA, 6-2 UFC). One could view this fight as a classic title eliminator. Many fans feel as if Holloway beat Volkanovski in the rematch at UFC 251, and for Kattar, there’s no better way to secure a shot at the champ than taking out the #1 contender and legend of the division.
The odds currently have Max Holloway as a slight favorite at -150 with the comeback on Calvin Kattar at +130. Prior to the main event, UFC fans are blessed (no pun intended) with an absolutely stacked main card featuring staples of the sport, new faces, and even the return of a forgotten fierce competitor. UFC Fight Island 7 has something for everyone on the MMA leader’s debut on the ABC network. Here’s to a great new year in 2021!
In this article, I will discuss two of my favorite parlay legs on the UFC on ABC 1 fight card. Please remember to always gamble legally and responsibly.
Santiago Ponzinibbio (-290)
Argentina’s Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) finally makes his long-awaited return to the octagon this Saturday afternoon versus Chinese banger Li Jingliang (17-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC). After violently disposing of Neil Magny in the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires, in late 2018, Ponzinibbio was dealt a bad hand of luck with his health. Seemingly one win away from a title shot, “The Argentinian Dagger” was sidelined with a nasty bacterial infection that lost him most of his muscle mass and two years of his prime. His condition worsened to a point where doctors said Santiago might never fight again. Ponzinibbio, one of the bigger welterweights, even considered dropping to 155 pounds, which in my opinion is not just a major red flag, but a massive indicator of how bad of a state his body was truly in. To top it all off, right when it appeared as though Ponzinibbio recovered, he was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Santiago Ponzinibbio simply couldn’t catch a break.
Fast forward to 2021, Ponzinibbio has apparently made a full recovery and looks to showcase the goods that had many hardcore fans calling him the “dark horse” of the 170-pound division. Throughout his UFC tenure, the man formerly known as “Gente Boa,” which translates to “good people” in Portuguese, compiled a 9-2 record inside the octagon, with 5 devastating knockouts to his credit, and a current 7-fight win streak.
The elements of Ponzinibbio’s game that made him such a force to be reckoned with during his run are his athletic footwork, brutal calf kicks, and piston right hand. In this matchup versus fellow knockout artist Li Jingliang, Ponzinibbio is the crisper boxer, more diverse striker, and straightforwardly put, higher caliber fighter.
Jingliang, in his own right, has 6 UFC knockouts to his name, and never shies away from what Conor McGregor likes to refer to as a good old fashioned “knock.” That being said, the knockdown ratios between the two men are extremely telling. Ponzinibbio has landed 9 knockdowns in UFC competition, while only being dropped twice. Whereas Jingliang has officially scored 8 knockdowns, but on the flipside, has been put down 5 times. It must be noted, however, to this point Jingliang has never been knocked out.
That might change on Saturday afternoon.
I truly believe if Santiago Ponzinibbio resembles anything of his former self, he will definitively defeat “The Leech” and remind the fans why he’s still a top contender in the welterweight division. If Ponzinibbio is still the same guy, he will execute in a way that warrants his -290 price tag.
Lastly, Jingliang historically performs at his worst outside of his home country China. My speculation is the jetlag from the long flight truly affects his performances. I looked up how long the flight from Beijing to Abu Dhabi is, and it’s over 9 hours long. With that said, I was recently informed that Jingliang did this camp in California at Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male. The flight from California to Abu Dhabi is nearly 20 hours long. I expect Li Jingliang to look sluggish like he did in recent bouts versus Jake Matthews (in Australia) and Neil Magny (in the USA) where he also had to travel a very long distance to arrive at his destination.
This fight comes down to what kind of form Ponzinibbio is in. If “Ponz” is anything like the man that destroyed Neil Magny in 2018, he is going to have a field day with Li Jingliang. Definitely make sure to pay attention to the weigh ins for this one.
Austin Lingo (-220)
Austin Lingo (7-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) will take on Jacob Kilburn (8-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in the curtain jerker at UFC on ABC 1. Both men are in desperate need of a win, and will look to claim their first victory under the UFC banner. Lingo made a name for himself on the LFA scene with his vicious, one-punch knockouts which had many scouts referring to him as a must-see prospect in the featherweight division.
Unfortunately for Lingo, he did not get to showcase the best version of himself in his short notice debut against Youssef Zalal. It turns out Zalal isn’t too shabby himself. In Lingo’s return versus Kilburn, he will look to demonstrate the signature power which coined him the nickname “Lights Out.”
As for Kilburn, he was not signed to the UFC as a top prospect. In fact, he was a last minute replacement for Chris Fishgold, who pulled out of a fight with Billy Quarantillo. In other words, the UFC were not originally looking to sign Kilburn, they simply needed someone to step up to the plate at the eleventh hour to face Billy Q.
Not only was Kilburn thoroughly dominated by Quarantillo, but he seems to have a knack for getting beat up in a large majority of his fights. Even in Kilburn’s wins he often takes unnecessary damage. I respect anyone that has the cajones to step inside the octagon, cage or ring in any show under any circumstance. But part of sports betting is being brutally honest and calling it how you see it. I simply do not believe Jacob Kilburn belongs at the UFC level. In fact, I would confidently pick lower ranked, undeveloped, and green fighters like Chase Hooper and Peter Barrett to get the best of Kilburn. I literally think the entire UFC featherweight division can defeat Jacob Kilburn.
If Jacob Kilburn wins, I’m willing to eat my words and take this one on the chin. I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again.
Kilburn did this training camp at the prestigious ATT gym in Coconut Creek, Florida. In his interview with James Lynch, Kilburn candidly said the fighters at ATT beat him up so badly that he was “pissing blood” and “rethinking” his career after every practice. In the latest episode of Half The Battle, I detail an exchange I had with a UFC fighter that recently trained with Jacob Kilburn at ATT. You’re going to want to hear this.
I see Fortis MMA’s Austin Lingo achieving his first UFC win by any means necessary. Ideally, Lingo takes the center of the octagon, walks down Kilburn, and lands the harder, more impactful shots until he either wins by knockout, or makes it to the scorecards. If Lingo decides to test out his wrestling in this spot, that is another path to victory. In fact, Lingo scored one takedown against Youssef Zalal. The difference here is that unlike Zalal, Kilburn tends to not get back up when he is taken down. It would take a “stunt” of epic proportions for Lingo to lose this fight, and I will pick him here decisively.