Following last night’s UFC 268 event in New York City the recipients of the $50,000 bonus awards were announced, including two more ‘Performance Of The Night’ awards than usual.
Despite a strong line-up, The ‘Fight Of The Night’ was never in doubt after Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler managed to exceed everyone’s very high pre-fight expectations for their clash as they engaged in an incredible slugfest for three full rounds.
Neither fighter was willing to give an inch from the opening bell and were unleashing the full extent of their formidable offensive arsenal, which led to both men having the other in real trouble at times.
However, it was Gaethje who was more consistently rocking Chandler with his heavy hands and even putting him down, while his thunderous leg kicks were also taking a toll. The blood-soaked Chandler showed exceptional resolve though to keep battling on in the final round when lesser fighters would have folded, which kept everyone on the edge of their seats until the final bell, at which point Gaethje emerged with a unanimous decision victory and the fight moved into the conversation for being among the best of the year.
Also claiming a bonus on the main card was Marlon Vera after he left it until the third round to unleash a front kick to the face that sent Frankie Edgar collapsing onto his hands and knees on the mat for the KO stoppage.
Gian Villante had announced pre-fight that this would be his last before hanging up his gloves and unfortunately for him it did not go his way at all, with Chris Barnett TKO’ing him with a completely unexpected spinning wheel kick midway through the second round, which earned him one of what turned out to be four performance bonuses.
Also taking home a performance award was Bobby Green who impressed with a first round TKO of Al Iaquinta in the prelims, flooring him with a powerful jab followed by a straight right and then a quick burst of ground-and-pound.
Alex Pereira made a big impact in his promotional debut as he scored a flying knee KO of Andreas Michailidis 18 seconds into the second round.