Dana White was clearly embracing the Christmas spirit after last night’s UFC 269 event in Las Vegas as he proceeded to dish out no less than eight bonus awards instead of the usual four.
That included ‘Fight Of The Night’ honors going to Dominick Cruz and Pedro Munhoz, who engaged in a very competitive battle for three full rounds on the preliminary portion of the card, with the former champ being rocked and on the verge of a tough loss in the opening round after eating big punches, but then rallying in the second and third rounds by outstriking Munhoz with his trademark high-volume striking and unpredictable movement to seize a unanimous decision victory.
The first of six ‘Performance Of The Night’ bonuses went to lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, who went to war with Dustin Poirier on the feet in the opening round and at times was clearly coming off second-best as the challenger hurt him with heavier blows, yet his belief in his own abilities never seemed to waver and he was landing big strikes of his own, leaving both men bleeding by the end of the opening round>
Then in the second round Oliveira was able to control Poirier on the mat for extended periods and the third he was able to sneak around to Poirier’s back while they were engaging on the feet and then hopped on, sunk in a standing rear-naked choke and forced the tap-out.
Julianna Pena also earned a performance bonus after she delivered one of the biggest upsets in UFC history by defeating long-time double-champ Amanda Nunes to become the new bantamweight champion of the world.
Nunes had actually had a strong first round, dropping Pena with strikes and controlling her on the mat, but the challenger’s iron-will and determination to succeed shone through in the second as she took the fight to ‘The Lioness’ on the feet and stunned her as punches started to land cleanly.
Rather than tighten up her defense, the tired-looking Nunes tried to go blow-for-blow with Pena, but continued to come off second-best as ‘The Venezualen Vixen’ continued to swing heavy-leather and take advantage of her opponent’s wide-open guard until she then got her to the mat, started working for a rear-naked choke and forced the tap-out before she’d even fully secured it.
Kai Kara-France was also deserving of a bonus after he completely dismantled Cody Garbrandt in the opening round of their fight, flooring him hard with an early right hand and then putting him back down several times in the onslaught that followed as the former bantamweight champion tried but failed to survive on shaky legs, leading to the TKO finish.
Continuing the bonus-spree was Sean O’Malley who again delivered another highlight-reel finish during his fight with Raulian Paiv, TKO’ing him in the opening round after a big right hand over the top rocked him and then a flurry of hooks along with an uppercut sunk him to the canvas again, leading to the stoppage.
Heading into the prelims, Tai Tuivasa also secured a bonus for his second round demolition of Augusto Sakai, initially hurting him with a left hook, with a barrage of hooks and uppercuts following, before a final right hook folded his opponent like a lawn-chair for the brutal KO finish.
Rounding off the bumper bonus package was Bruno Silva, who floored Jordan Wright with thunderous punches early in the first round to secure a TKO stoppage.