The UFC returns to fight island for their first event of 2021, and the co-main event UFC Odds are now available. Read on for our complete betting guide taking a first look at Santiago Ponzinibbio versus Li Jingliang at UFC Fight Island 7, including updated odds and our free expert betting predictions.
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Li Jingliang
UFC Welterweight Bout
Saturday, January 16, 2021 at Yas Island
The fighting pride of Argentina returns to the octagon after a two-year layoff. Santiago Ponzinibbio was feared in the welterweight division and held a seven-fight win streak, but spent the majority of 2019 inside the doctor's office. More than two years later and a long-fought clean bill of health, Ponzinibbio career-threatening health scare is in the past, and the 185lb division has been put on notice once again.
"Some guys that were behind me in the rankings like Leon Edwards, they are now in front of me," Ponzinibbio told the press. "I started to lose opportunities. That isn't good. I was No.7 in the rankings, and I know the rankings don't make a lot of sense, but they removed me. I worked so hard for that."
"After a lot of work, after a lot of ups and downs, after this whole crazy thing, thank god, I am healthy. I am overly excited to come back. I'm very excited to show the world. The first reason I did this is that I love it. This is my dream. I feel good. I'm back in shape. I'm extremely excited to be back."
After the Argentine's win back in November 2018 versus Neil Magny, the UFC was already planning for Ponz to become the next number one contender. Unfortunately, he never intended to go from fighting other martial artists to fighting for his life in a hospital.
Since the age of thirteen, Kickboxing, moving to Brazil, obtaining a Brazilian black belt, and accomplishing a UFC contract through Dana White's reality show 'The Ultimate Fighter' is just the beginning. A seven-fight streak with multiple fights ending inside the distance is no joke, Ponz has already defeated ranked opponents, and a two-year layoff will soon be forgotten if the Argentine returns with the devastation he put on display previously.
Give credit where credit is due, accepting a fight on short notice to face Ponzinibbio is a brave move by the 'Leech'.
Born and raised in Beijing, China, Li began his martial arts journey on the wrestling mats – later he would transition to mixed martial arts, obtaining an 8-2 record before an eventual approach by the UFC.
Six years in the company and Li is now known for his heavy hands and relentless pressure, a fighter that is willing to exchange strikes will be the perfect complement to the style of Ponzinibbio.
UFC Fight Island 7: Ponzinibbio vs. Jingliang Early Prediction
How Can Jingliang Win?
The underdog on Fight Island should be looking to connect on Ponz jaw because knocking his opponents into unconsciousness is a trait that Li can exploit.
A wrestling background and high-level Jiu-jitsu experience should give Li confidence in his grappling offense, but we often witness two black belts avoid the ground game altogether.
How Can Ponzinibbio Win?
Li finds success as the progressor, dictating the pace and moving forward. This style is not going to work against the dangerous strikes of Ponz, and I anticipate Li to wilt under the pressure of Ponz just like most opponents who step into the octagon against 'Gente Boa'.
MMA mathematics isn't the solution but watching Ponz destroy Neil Magny while Li Jing was out-classed by Magny is a clear sign as what to expect.
Jingliang vs. Ponzinibbio Betting Odds Advice
The online sportsbooks' current odds are favoring the Argentine; his octagon presence is intimidating alone. The layoff should not be a considerable concern, Ponz will not have lost aggressive pressure and relentless output – exactly where Li suffers, when put under pressure.
I do believe that Ponz will finish Li inside the distance, but we'll have to settle for the -280 until 'inside the distance' odds are released.