Geoff Neal vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio UFC 269 Odds, Pick & Prediction: Find Value on Main Card Pick’em (Saturday, December 11)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Santiago Ponzinibbio.
- Geoff Neal looks to get back on track at UFC 269 against Santiago Ponzinibbio.
- Neal has lost two straight, while the Argentine has won eight of his last nine in the UFC.
- Sean Zerillo breaks down the fight and makes his pick for bettors below.
Geoff Neal vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio Odds
|Approx. 11 p.m. ET|
Geoff Neal looks to get back on track in the welterweight division at UFC 269 on Saturday night, but he faces a difficult test.
Neal will take on Santiago Ponzinibbio, who has won eight of his last nine fights in the UFC. He’s earned fight bonuses in three of his last fights.
Neal has lost back-to-back fights against Neil Magny and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, both by decision. Prior to that, he won his first five fights in the promotion, four of which were finishes. Ponzinibbio, meanwhile, bounced back from a loss to Li Jingliang by beating Miguel Baeza in June.
Below I preview how these fighters stack up and which side has betting value in this matchup. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate here.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||9:25||10:07|
|Weight (pounds)||170.5 lbs.||169.5 lbs.|
|Date of birth||8/28/90||9/26/86|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||4.42||4.65|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||4.68||4.38|
|Take Down Avg||0.6||0.46|
These welterweights offer similar striking metrics in what should be a highly technical kickboxing matchup.
Both men land and absorb between 4.4 to 4.7 strikes per minute. Neal has the advantage in striking accuracy (+8%), while Ponzinibbio has the positive strike differential (+0.27 to -0.26) between the pair.
Neal has a two-inch reach advantage and could present some problematic looks from his southpaw stance. He owns a big left hand and powerful high kick, either one of which could crack the “Argentine Dagger,” who fights with his hands low.
Ponzinibbio has shown indications of regression since returning from a two-year layoff in January. He suffered a first-round knockout loss at the hand of Li Jingliang and had to rally from behind to defeat Miguel Baeza in June (absorbed 44 of 49 leg kicks).
Similarly, Neal has shown signs of decline after dealing with a bad case of COVID last year, getting outstruck 171-85 and 55-35 in back-to-back losses against Stephen Thompson and Neil Magny. He was arrested for a DWI on Thanksgiving and has a pending legal matter to complicate matters further.
Stylistically, this might be a decent matchup for Neal. Ponzinibbio will stand in the pocket and give him the type of fight he wants, but I trust the Argentine to out-volume the American over 15 minutes.
Neal is four years younger and more likely to return to his previous form than Ponzinibbio. Still, the latter has twice as many professional fights and faced a much more difficult slate of competition than his opponent.
Ponzinibbio should be able to apply pressure, put Neal on his back foot and control the range of the striking exchanges with his jab. I expect both men to absorb some big shots in this contest — and I would give a slight edge to Neal on durability — but I do see Ponzinibbio as the value side.
Neal tends to fall behind his opponents on volume, and he’s a bit frustrating to watch when his power shots aren’t connecting.
Neal vs. Ponzinibbio Pick
I also show value on Ponzinibbio’s odds to win by decision (projected +178, listed +275) and on the fight to go the distance (projected +100, listed +150). However, I’m less inclined to double down on one side — Neal could win a close decision on power optics — so I will likely add the fight GTD prop instead of the Ponzinibbio decision prop.
The Pick: Santiago Ponzinibbio (-110, 0.5u)