Weekend Warrior: UFC’s Argentina Debut Buoys Packed MMA Slate

Photo: Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has its sights set on a brand-new market. The Las Vegas-based promotion on Saturday will visit Argentina for the first time, as “The Ultimate Fighter 16” semifinalist Neil Magny answers the call to face American Top Team’s Santiago Ponzinibbio in the UFC Fight Night 140 main event at the Parque Roca Arena in Buenos Aires. Meanwhile, Ricardo Lamas squares off with Darren Elkins in the three-round featherweight co-headliner.

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Magny enters the cage on a two-fight winning streak. The 31-year-old Elevation Fight Team representative last competed at UFC Fight Night 130 on May 27, when he cut down Craig White with a first-round knee strike and follow-up punches. Magny has compiled a 14-5 record since joining the UFC roster in 2013, with wins over Carlos Condit, Kelvin Gastelum, Johny Hendricks, and Hector Lombard.

Ponzinibbio finds himself on a run of six consecutive victories. A semifinalist on Season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil, he has not fought since he took a unanimous decision from Mike Perry at UFC on Fox 26 in December. Ponzinibbio, 32, has delivered 20 of his 26 career wins by knockout, technical knockout, or submission. Court McGee and Gunnar Nelson were among the victims.

Santiago Ponzinibbio punches Nordine Taleb. Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

UFC Fight Night “Magny vs. Ponzinibbio” — which airs live on Fox Sports 1 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT — also features a light heavyweight clash pairing Khalil Rountree with Johnny Walker, a middleweight confrontation pitting Cezar Ferreira against Ian Heinisch, a bantamweight battle matching Guido Cannetti with Marlon Vera and a women’s strawweight tilt slotting Cynthia Calvillo opposite Poliana Botelho. Fox Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) and UFC Fight Pass (7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT) will share coverage of the six-fight undercard.

Meanwhile, the Bellator MMA organization returns to the stage for the first time in more than a month with Bellator 209 on Thursday at Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv, Israel. Featherweight champion Patricio Freire will defend his title against surging Roufusport standout Emmanuel Sanchez in the headliner. The event will air via tape delay on the Paramount Network at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.

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Outside the UFC-Bellator bubble, One Championship “Warrior’s Dream” goes down on Friday at the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia. The fate of the promotion’s vacant welterweight title will be decided, as Zebaztian Kadestam and undefeated Sikjitsu export Tyler McGuire shoulder the marquee. One Championship “Warrior’s Dream” streams live and free to the One Super App at 7 a.m. ET/4 a.m. PT, available on Android and iOS platforms.

Zebaztian Kadestam. Photo: Dux Carvajal/ONE Championship (Getty Images)

Another vacancy will be filled on the regional scene, as the unbeaten Felicia Spencer takes on Pam Sorensen for the Invicta Fighting Championships featherweight crown atop Invicta 32 on Friday at the FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The event — Invicta’s first since September — streams to UFC Fight Pass at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

Finally, Sabina Mazo will defend her Legacy Fighting Alliance women’s flyweight championship against Caroline Yariwake da Cruz in the LFA 54 headliner on Friday at the OC Fair and Event Center in Costa, Mesa, California. One of the sport’s top prospects, the 21-year-old Mazo has won all five of her fights since turning professional in 2015. LFA 54 “Mazo vs. Yariwake” airs live on AXS-TV at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

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