Ryan LaFlare made it through a training camp without issue or injury. For the UFC welterweight from Lindenhurst, that's accomplishment enough.
That's not going to earn him any win bonuses, though. But this will: a terrific and well-rounded performance resulting into a unanimous decision over Santiago Ponzinibbio at UFC Fight Night 32 in Goiania, Brazil, on Saturday night.
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All three judges scored the bout, 30-27, for LaFlare (9-0, 2-0 UFC).
LaFlare showcased his well-rounded striking and grappling far more than in his UFC debut last April. There's a reason for that.
"When he fought in Sweden, he couldn't even use his right arm," said Keith Trimble, LaFlare's lead trainer at Bellmore Kickboxing Academy. "His shoulder was a mess. I always tease him, he's put together with scotch tape."
He looked rock-solid Saturday night.
LaFlare got top control less than a minute into the first round and controlled Ponzinibbio most of the time. When Ponzinibbio did get to his feet twice more, LaFlare twice took him down and had control.
In the middle of the second round, Ponzinibbio and LaFlare exchanged punches with the Argentinian getting the better of the striking. LaFlare retreated several times during the exchanges but managed to get a takedown with 1:05 left in the round and maintain side control.
"He landed some really good shots on me," LaFlare said. "A couple of times I didn't know where I was."
By the third round, LaFlare clearly knew where he was. Ponzinibbio (19-2, 0-1) attempted a spinning leg kick, which LaFlare saw coming. LaFlare caught the leg well before Ponzinibbio could compete the move, then slammed him to the ground and immediately went into the mount.
Late in the final round, LaFlare landed a left knee to the right side of Ponzinibbio's rib cage and dropped him. LaFlare moved in quickly with ground and pound but did not get the finish.
Rather, that finish came about 90 seconds later when the bell rang.
This was the second win for a Bellmore Kickboxing fighter this week. Dennis Bermudez, who trains with LaFlare at BKA and Long Island MMA in Farmingdale, won a unanimous decision over Steven Siler on Wednesday night at UFC Fight for the Troops 3. Bellmore Kickboxing looks to make three in a row in November when Gian Villante fights Cody Donovan next Saturday at UFC 167.