It was a mixed night for the Chinese contingent at UFC Fight Island 7 but a memorable one for Li Jingliang as he scored arguably the biggest finish of his career with a first-round knockout against Santiago Ponzinibbio.

Having looked like a potential title contender earlier in his career, Ponzinibbio was making his return to the Octagon following a lengthy struggle with injury.

Li had seen a three-fight winning streak snapped in March as he dropped a unanimous decision against Neil Magny. This was a stunning return to form for the China Top Team stalwart.

Early success

Both fighters enjoyed success early in the round as they exchanged some stinging leg kicks, but the movement and feints from Li as well as a lovely left hook left the Argentine looking tentative.

Ponzinibbio sought to use his jab to increase the pressure but Li was landing the better shots. Then came a sensational finish as Ponzinibbio missed with a right hand, only to be met with a monster left hook from ‘the leech’ which left him stretched out on the canvas.

While Ponzinibbio now slips to 27-4, Li climbs to 18-6. That was the seventh knockout victory of the Chinese fighter’s UFC career, and in the wake of the win he said,

‘I feel great I really enjoy being here in Abu Dhabi and it’s really awesome to have fans watching the fight. Thank you, Dana White for giving me the opportunity to prove myself. I really thought it was the left jab that did it but I watched the replay and it was different to how I remember. The success for today’s event is not just for my effort, it’s a team effort. Thank you to all the fans who believed in me.”

Successful debut

Wu Yanan (11-4) fell to back-to back losses for the first time in her career as she dropped a unanimous decision to UFC debutant, Joselyne Edwards.

Wu landed some early leg kicks, but Edwards responded with some clean punches and a strong low kick of her own. As the pair clinched up, Wu soon found herself in Edward’s guard as the Panamanian looked to sink in an armbar.

Eventually able to escape, Wu then landed some decent shots before passing Edwards’ guard and looking for the kimura. But Edwards scrambled well and was able to take the back of the Chinese fighter to end the round strongly.

Fierce combinations

Wu landed some solid early shots in the second and scored the trip takedown, but Edwards again scrambled to good effect and took top position before finding her feet and raining down a flurry of right hands.

Having not competed since August 2019, Wu perhaps lacked some sharpness on the feet and found herself on the end of some fierce one two combinations at the end of round two.

The 24-year-old looked to increase her output in the final round and caught Edwards with some left hooks as her opponent stepped in. Both fighters exchanged some clean shots with Wu certainly looking more precise than in the previous two rounds.

Overall, though, she didn’t do enough to really damage Edwards and it was the debutant who landed more significant strikes as she extended her record to 10-2. Her opponent drops to 11-4.

One sided

In the main event, former champion, Max Holloway (22-6) put on a striking clinic against #6 ranked featherweight Calvin Kattar (22-5 as he secured one of the most one-sided unanimous decisions in the history of the sport.

UFC Fight Island 7, Abu Dhabi, 17th January
Max Holloway def. Calvin Kattar via unanimous decision
Carlos Condit def. Matt Brown via unanimous decision
Li Jingliang def. Santiago Ponzinibbio via first-round KO (4:25)
Alessio Di Chirico def. Joaquin Buckley via first-round KO (2:12)
Punahele Soriano def. Dusko Todorovic via first-round TKO (4:48)
Joselyne Edwards def. Wu Yanan via unanimous decision
Carlos Felipe def. Justin Tafa via split decision
Ramazan Emeev def. David Zawada via split decision
Vanessa Melo def. Sarah Moras via unanimous decision
Austin Lingo def. Jacob Kilburn via unanimous decision