Following last night’s UFC 281 event the recipients of the evening’s $50,000 bonus awards were announced.
Even before the event the lightweight fight between Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler always looked like a strong candidate for ‘Fight Of The Night’ honors and it lived up to expectations.
The fight started as it meant to go on with an action-packed first round that initially saw Chandler hurt Poirier with his pressure and power punches before adding in some wrestling for good measure.
However, later in the round after getting back to his feet it was ‘The Diamond’ who started to give his opponent a taste of his own medicine as he left him dazed and with blood pouring from his nose after a series of crisp combinations.
Chandler changed things up in the second round, getting an early takedown, pouring copious amounts of blood from his nose onto Poirier’s face as he worked for ground-and-pound and a rear-naked choke attempt that would prove controversial after Poirier complained he’d been fish-hooked.
Going into the final round the fight was still up for grabs and Poirier looked like the fresher fighter as he tried to get his striking going, only for Chandler to summon up the strength for a big takedown attempt, hoping to slam him to the mat, only for Poirier to reverse it and take the back, before sinking in what would prove to be a fight-ending rear-naked choke submission.
Meanwhile, main event winner Alex Pereira took home one of two ‘Performance Of The Night’ awards after he ended Israel Adesanya’s long middleweight title reign with a TKO finish in the final round.
This fight was always competitive, with Adesanya rocking his rival just before the end of the first round, only for the challenger to continue marching forward and applying pressure in the following five minutes.
However, in the third round Adesanya started to benefit from having more MMA experience than his former kickboxing nemesis by opting for clinch work, takedowns and top control, which seemed to take a toll on Pereira’s cardio, which he further capitalized on in the fourth round.
That meant that Pereira likely needed a finish in the final five minutes, and sure enough he summoned the energy to go on the attack, backing him to the cage while unleashing thunderous punches that left him rocked, staggering along the fence as more blows landed. Adesanya’s survival instincts kicked in as he tried to woozily bob and weave to avoid the incoming artillery, but as more punches landed the referee stepped in, handing Pereira a stunning TKO victory to claim the middleweight crown.