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Cub Swanson celebrates after his knockout victory over Darren Elkins in their featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on December 18, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
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Bonus Coverage | Every Bonus From 2021

The Fights & Performances That Warranted An Extra $50,000 In 2021

UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Daukaus

December 18, 2021 | UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada

Fight CardFinal Results | Official Scorecards

Amanda Lemos of Brazil kicks Angela Hill in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on December 18, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Amanda Lemos of Brazil kicks Angela Hill in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on December 18, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Fight of the Night: Amanda Lemos vs Angela Hill

A pair of strawweights looking to set themselves up for a big climb up the ladder in 2022 took part in a gritty, grimy 3-round affair as Amanda Lemos earned the split decision nod over Angela Hill.

Lemos earned the upper-hand at first, stunning Hill with a front kick to the face. Hill recovered well and secured top position midway through the round. When they got back to the feet, they traded strikes, and Hill connected with a strong right hand to even things up a bit. The pressure continued for Hill in round two, upping the volume and wearing on Lemos, but in the third round, Lemos went blow-for-blow. It resulted in a beautiful and high-paced striking display with some tough cagework sprinkled between. In the end, the judges gave Lemos the win as Hill’s bad luck with split decisions continues.

Performance of the Night: Cub Swanson

In a clash of veteran featherweights, Cub Swanson looked sharp as ever against Darren Elkins. Swanson came out confident and fluid with his hands down at his side, and his sharpshooting attack began early. With accurate and fast punches, Swanson hurt Elkins, and he didn’t allow Elkins any chance to recover. As Elkins stumbled, Swanson finished things off with a spinning kick, and that was enough to earn the stoppage midway through the opening frame. 

Performance of the Night: Melissa Gatto

Melissa Gatto made a statement in the flyweight division, keeping her unebaten record intact while taking out Sijara Eubanks in the third round. 

After a tough first round, Gatto was able to reverse Eubanks on the ground in the second round and gain some momentum in the fight. In the third round, Gatto connected with a solid front kick to Eubanks’ body, crumpling her opponent and essentially ending the fight. 
 

 

UFC 269: Oliveira vs Poirier

December 11, 2021 | T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

Fight CardFinal Results | Official Scorecards

Gross Total Revenue: $8,071,521
Attendance: 18,471 (Sold Out)

Fight of the Night: Dominick Cruz vs Pedro Munhoz

Bantamweight stalwarts Pedro Munhoz and Dominick Cruz faced off in a high-level striking chess match that produced exactly the type of fight you’d expect. Munhoz started off hot, displaying great patience and power as he was able to catch and badly hurt Cruz in the first round. Cruz was able to rebound quickly despite being dropped two times and out-strike Munhoz in the second and third round on his way to a unanimous decision victory.

It was a vintage performance from Cruz and proved that the former UFC bantamweight has plenty left in the tank to re-establish himself as a true contender for the UFC bantamweight title.

Performance of the Night: Charles Oliveira

Charles Oliveria left no doubt: he is the best lightweight in the world. He was the underdog heading into his UFC 269 bout with Dustin Poirier and he closed out the show early in the third round with his record tying 18th UFC finish.

The win didn’t come without adversity for “Do Bronx”. In the first round he was dropped by Poirier and was out struck by a significant amount, but he “walked through fire” and was able to capitalize on his strengths and make Poirier uncomfortable. He dominated the second round and then went for the kill early in the third round.

It was a brilliant performance and sets Oliveira up to face a slew of fun fights in the lightweight division.

Performance of the Night: Julianna Peña

Ladies and gentlemen, Julianna Peña just did the unthinkable; well... to everyone but her and her team. The “Venezuelan Vixen” weathered the storm in the first round, absorbing punishment from longtime champion Amanda Nunes before flipping the script in the second round.

Peña put the pressure on Nunes and lured her into a firefight, where she was able to tire out Nunes and eventually get her to the canvas. That’s when Peña sunk in a rear naked choke that will be on highlight reels for centuries to come.

It was an incredible performance that showcased the true heart of a champion.

Performance of the Night: Kai Kara-France

“Don’t Blink” is an absolutely appropriate name for Kai Kara-France. He proved that once again by knocking out Cody Garbrandt in the first round of their UFC 269 bout. Kara-France was a picture of focus and was patient as he repeatedly hurt Garbrandt, hunting the finish and capitalizing at the right time. It was an impressive win and shows that Kara-France is a real player at the top of the flyweight division.

Performance of the Night: Sean O'Malley

There are people that want to doubt Sean O’Malley and he’s happy to welcome each hater. The reason he feels that way, is because he is confident that he will continue to perform the way he did at UFC 269, when he knocked out Raulian Paiva in the first round.

O’Malley was patient, he was calculated, and he showed exactly why he has the potential to be one of the biggest stars in the UFC.

Performance of the Night: Bruno Silva

It’s time to just come out and say it: Bruno Silva is a wrecking ball.

The Brazilian middleweight faced a little adversity before turning on the jets and overwhelming Jordan Wright at UFC 269. It was Silva’s third KO victory in a row and proved that as the stakes get bigger, Silva is ready to put on even more spectacular performances.

UFC Fight Night: Font vs Aldo

December 4, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

Fight CardFinal Results | Official Scorecards

Fight of the Night: Cheyanne Vlismas vs Mallory Martin

Cheyanne Vlismis made it two in a row in her third UFC fight of 2021 with a unanimous victory over Mallory Martin. A high-paced opening round with sharp strikes on the feet set the tone for the remaining 10 minutes, which was controlled mostly by "The Warrior Princess." 

Vlismas was able to shut down a few takedown attempts and clinchwork by Martin, engaging in her signature style of conversing with her opponents between strikes, before ending the three-round fight with a hug and words of appreciation at the bell.

Performance Of The Night: Clay Guida

It’s time to just accept it… Clay Guida isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The lightweight legend showed that he’s as durable and resilient as ever against Leonardo Santos. In the first round Santos was all over Guida, throwing everything in his arsenal with hopes to finish “The Carpenter” but to no avail.

In the second round Guida put his foot on the gas and relied on his wrestling to get Santos to the canvas. From there he maneuvered himself into position and submitted Santos with a rear naked choke. It was an amazing moment, and it just shows how far heart can get you.

Performance Of The Night: Rafael Fiziev

Lightweights Rafael Fiziev and Brad Riddell put their friendship on hold for 15 minutes of high-level striking at UFC Fight Night: Font vs Aldo. The result was a chess match that had fans on the edge of their seat up until Fiziev landed a devastating wheel kick knockout in the third round of their bout.

It was brilliant display of striking technique and showed exactly why Fiziev is one of the must-watch fighters in the lightweight division. It will be very interesting to see who he squares up with next.

Performance Of The Night: Jamahal Hill

In the lead-up to UFC Fight Night: Font vs Aldo, light heavyweight Jamahal Hill preached that he wanted to assert his dominance against Jimmy Crute. He needed less than a minute to do just that, connecting with devastating strikes that sent Crute crashing to the canvas.

Let it be known, Jamahal Hill is absolute the real deal.

Performance Of The Night: Chris Curtis

The meteoric rise of Chris “Action Man” Curtis continues after the welterweight followed up his incredible knockout of Phil Hawes at UFC 268 in November with a short-notice KO win over surging middleweight Brendan Allen.

Curtis has shown that he’s definitely a player at either weight class and he truly is going to be one of those fighters to live up to his nickname.

UFC Fight Night: Vieira vs Tate

November 20, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

Fight CardFinal Results | Official Scorecards

Davey Grant of England and Adrian Yanez punch each other in their bantamweight bout at UFC Fight Night: Vieira vs Tate on November 20, 2021 at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Fight of the Night: Davey Grant vs Adrian Yanez

After some decision-heavy prelims that had audiences thirsty for a finish, Adrian Yanez and Davey Grant instead treated fight fans to fifteen minutes of glorious, back-and-forth brutality. Although the 30-27 scorecard for Grant puzzled some, it was little surprise that the bout ended in a split decision as both men emptied their respective tanks with every move they had in their MMA arsenal.

RELATED: Yanez Interview

Houston’s Yanez became emotional at the fight’s conclusion, paying tribute to his late coach Saul Soliz, who passed away earlier this year.

“He was here for my Contender Series, he was here for my debut and he was here for me in March,” Yanex told Daniel Cormier post-fight. “I thought he’d be here for me today, but the

Performance of the Night: Taila Santos

It took nine fights tonight to find one that ended in a finish, and it ended up being the only one.  By virtue of that alone Taila Santos might have won the bonus. But it was so much more than that.

A short-notice replacement for Alexa Grasso in this bout, Santos entered UFC Fight Night: Vieira vs Tate as the biggest betting favorite on the card, and she reminded everyone why. Far from being simply a finish victory, it was instead one Santos’ finest, most fully-realized performances to date. Her dominance in the speed department was evident from the jump, and her striking eventually dropped Wood with 90 seconds to go. Once on the ground, Santos swarmed and methodically worked her way onto Wood’s back.

See Santos’ Finish Here

It was only the third submission victory of her 19-1 professional career, and her first since 2015. With the win, expect to see Santos in the top five of women’s flyweight on the strength of her stellar four-fight win streak, the second-longest in the division.

Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez of Mexico punch each other in their featherweight main event bout at UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Rodriguez on Saturday, November 13, 2021 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez of Mexico punch each other in their featherweight main event bout at UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Rodriguez on Saturday, November 13, 2021 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Fight of the Night: Max Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez

One of the most anticipated fights of the year delivered in spades. Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez put on a 5-round technical brawl with “Blessed” coming out on top and reasserting himself as the No. 1 contender at featherweight.

In his first fight in two years, Yair Rodriguez came out quickly, chopping at Holloway’s lead leg and trying to limit the Hawaiian’s movement. However, as the fight went on, Holloway found his rhythm and started to swarm Rodriguez’ offense. In the third round, Holloway mixed in grappling and nearly locked up submissions, but the scrambles were high-level on both sides. Rodriguez went for the finish at the end and threw the kitchen sink at Holloway, but ultimately, “Blessed” showed he is still the best. At fight’s end, each man had earned one another’s respect, and Holloway set himself up for another title shot if that’s what he wants.

Performance of the Night: Khaos Williams

For the first time in a year, Khaos Williams displayed his one-shot power with a third-round knockout win over Miguel Baeza. 

Baeza and Williams traded shots early, and Baeza found success with low leg kicks. Williams avoided a few leg lock submission attempts at the end of the first round, and in the second, he got closer and closer with his big shots. In the third round, Williams countered off a leg kick, and a right hook connected, crumpling Baeza. Williams followed up and earned the stoppage win.

Performance of the Night: Andrea Lee

Andrea Lee launched herself into the top-half of the flyweight rankings with a second-round TKO win over Cynthia Calvillo. Lee looked sharp early, putting together her strikes and flowing with combinations. She prevented Calvillo from getting any grappling going, and in the second round, Lee started to find a lot of success with body shots. Lee never slowed down, and Calvillo’s corner stopped the fight between the second and third rounds. 

The win is Lee’s second stoppage win in a row, and she’ll likely try to parlay that into a bigger fight as we head into 2022.
 

UFC 268: Usman vs Covington 2

November 6, 2021 | Madison Square Garden, New York City

Fight CardFinal Results | Official Scorecards

Gate: $9,903,556.86
Attendance: 20,715 (Sold Out)
#4 Highest gate at MSG
#8 Highest gate in UFC history

Michael Chandler and Justin Gaethje embrace after their lightweight fight during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Michael Chandler and Justin Gaethje embrace after their lightweight fight during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Fight Of The Night: Justin Gaethje vs Michael Chandler

It’s hard to find anyone who didn’t have Justin Gaethje vs Michael Chandler circled as the leading candidate for UFC 268's Fight of the Night, and the two warriors delivered precisely that in front of a capacity arena who stayed on the feet for the entire bout.

As expected, both men unloaded absolute bombs in their trademark fearless styles, bombs thrown with bad intentions that might have ended the evening for either man had they not both been so stubbornly resilient.

The bout came close to ending in the second round when Gaethje dropped Chandler and started a brutal ground assault. Chandler managed to survive and even thrive into the third round.  Although the decision victory for Gaethje snapped a long streak of finishes in the fights that preceded it, not one single fan in Madison Square Garden minded. It was fifteen sweet minutes of everything that makes MMA great. Expect to see this bout high on many Fight of the Year lists next month and on lists of all-time classics for years to come.

Performance Of The Night: Chris Barnett

On a card with two title fights and other assorted bangers, one of the enduring images of UFC 268 is likely to the celebration of one Chris Barnett following his wheel kick and TKO of Gian Villante. All fighters are happy to leave the Octagon with the win, but if Barnett could bottle and sell his pure joy, he’s likely be a wealthy man.

"My feelings right now are overwhelming. It's amazing. I'm just glad to be a part of this show in MSG," he said backstage following the performance."To set it up the way we used to wor it three years back, it was amazing. I saw he wasn't checking the kick, so I would feint, feint, throw, spin. That's how I got that one off."

The kick that led to the ground and pound finish of veteran Gian Villante was just the 12th in UFC history. Even Villante—who has said he would retire following this bout—was impressed and congratulated his fellow heavyweight.

Performance Of The Night: Marlon Vera

After back-to-back potential Fight of the Night candidates that went to the scorecards, Marlon Vera returned UFC 268 to it’s finish-heavy ways with a third round KO of Frankie Edgar.

Edgar had looked good throughout the fight and two judges had scored the second round for him. But Chito’s length, cardio and striking were the star of the show, culminating in front kick sent “The Answer” to the mat.

The eighth front-kick KO in UFC history gives Marlon Vera the most finishes UFC bantamweight history (9).

Performance Of The Night: Alex Pereira

The man who owns a pair of kickboxing wins over middleweight champion Israel Adesanya made the most of UFC debut on the featured prelim.

Alex Pereira struggled with the grappling prowess of his opponent Andreas Michailidis in the first round and the rowdy New York crowd—who had just been treated to a long string of finish victories—grew audibly restless at a perceived lack of action.

Almost as if he had taken it to heart, Pereira responded immediately in the second, executing a perfect flying knee to the head of his opponent. Some will argue that should have been the conclusion of the fight, but when Michalaidis covered up on the ensuing strikes, it left the referee no doubt.

Performance Of The Night: Bobby Green

If you missed the prelim card, you missed a ton of action, and most of it end pretty quick. Despite a huge Madison Square Garden pop for beloved NYC boy Al Iaquinta, Bobby Green spoiled the long-awaited Octagon return of “Ragin’ Al.”

Green got to work immediately and the subsequent two and a half minutes was his most concise, well-executed performance in recent memory and his first finish in eight years.

A beautiful two-punch combo sent Iaquinta to the deck, and he wasn’t able to defend the barrage that followed. Green made it look easy out there.

UFC 267: Blachowicz vs Teixeira

October 30, 2021 | Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, UAE

View The Fight Card | Official Scorecards | Full Results

Attendance: 10,171

Khamzat Chimaev enters the Octagon ahead of his middleweight matchup against Li Jingliang of China during the UFC 267 event at Etihad Arena on October 30, 2021 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Khamzat Chimaev enters the Octagon ahead of his middleweight matchup against Li Jingliang of China during the UFC 267 event at Etihad Arena on October 30, 2021 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Performance Of The Night: Glover Teixeira

At age 42 and 2 days, Glover Teixeira became the oldest first-time champion in UFC history. The only ranked fighter on the roster born in the 1970s, Teixeira looked as spry as any young up-and-comer, and absolutely muted the legendary Polish power of his opponent Jan Blachowicz, who he submitted with seeming ease in the second round. It has been a long road for the Brazilian, whose first professional fight was in 2002.

“Never give up on your dreams. No matter what people say, don’t listen to them. They’re going to put you down. Don’t listen to those negative people. Believe in yourself. Keep going forward.”

Words to live by from your new light heavyweight champion.

Performance Of The Night: Khamzat Chimaev

As he picked up Li Jingliang and carried him across the Octagon, he stopped in front of UFC president Dana White and shouted “Who's next? I'll fight anyone. Give me Brock Lesnar. I don't care!”

He then slammed “The Leech” to the mat and methodically worked him into a rear naked choke. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s four finish victories in four UFC fights, all in roughly 8 combined minutes. A true phenom in every sense of the word, his latest performance bonus-worthy performance serves as a reminder that the sky is the limit for “Borz.”

Fight Of The Night: Petr Yan vs Cory Sandhagen

The scorecards went unanimously to Petr Yan, who regained a share of the bantamweight title for his efforts. But both he and Cory Sandhagen deserve a salute for the veritable slobber-knocker they put on for twenty-five full minutes. Ever game, Sandhagen had no shortage of show-stopping moments, but relentless forward power of Yan was an accurate representation of his nickname “No Mercy.” One gets the feeling this won’t be the last time the two meet.

UFC 267 Final Results

“I let everyone know that I’m back,” said Yan afterwards. “And I’m going to come for all of you.”

UFC Fight Night: Costa vs Vettori

October 23, 2021 | UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Fight Of The Night: Junyong Park vs Gregory Rodrigues

Gregory Rodrigues Post-Fight Interview | UFC Fight Night: Costa vs Vettori
Gregory Rodrigues Post-Fight Interview | UFC Fight Night: Costa vs Vettori
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Middleweights collided in a big way as Junyong Park and Gregory Rodrigues turned in a wild performance at UFC Fight Night: Costa vs Vettori.

After a first round controlled by Rodrigues on the canvas, the two let their hands do the talking in the second round. Initially, it was “The Iron Turtle” that really pushed the issue and connected with shots that backed Rodrigues up against the fence. Rodrigues’ body language may have indicated that he was he pretty hurt, but that didn’t stop him from firing back.

Rodrigues hit Park with a massive combo that sent his opponent retreating to the other side of the Octagon. “Robocop” put on the pressure and smashed through Park’s guard with a huge uppercut that forced Keith Peterson to rescue Park before any more damage could be unleased.

It was an incredible pace from both fighters that really seemed like an old school throwdown.

Performance Of The Night: Alex Caceres

Alex Caceres elbows Seungwoo Choi of South Korea in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 23, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Alex Caceres elbows Seungwoo Choi of South Korea in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 23, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

The one and only Alex Caceres aka “Bruce Leeroy” struck for the fifth time in a row, this time defeating rising featherweight SeungWoo Choi at UFC Fight Night: Costa vs Vettori.

To be frank, it didn’t look good for Caceres in the first round. Choi was looking dominant in the stand-up game before hitting Caceres with an illegal knee that cost him a point. The knee was devastating and clearly hurt Caceres badly. Caceres was able to hang on and get to the second round where he made a big-time adjustment.

Caceres started off the second round with a little more pressure and was able to clinch with Choi. He disguised his true intentions with strikes before hopping on Choi’s back. From there, the UFC vet broke Choi down, grabbed Choi’s next and forced the choke due to a rear naked choke.

With almost 10 years in the UFC, “Bruce Leeroy” isn’t slowing down any time soon.

Performance Of The Night: Marvin Vettori

There really aren’t enough positive things that could be said about Marvin Vettori this week. “The Italian Dream” was set to face Paulo Costa in their middleweight main event before finding out that Costa couldn’t make the weight. That’s when the two called an audible and agreed to make the fight a light heavyweight bout, which certainly benefitted Costa as the bigger man.

But that didn’t stop Vettori, not one bit. Vettori would go on to win a thrilling five round slugfest with Costa, as a matter of fact, Vettori set the all-time UFC light heavyweight significant strike record with 190 strikes landed. Costa finished with 163, that was good for the second most ever.

The fight itself was brilliant, both fighters absolutely brought it. The two were back and forth landing powerful strikes and not taking a single step back. Unfortunately, there will always be the mess that happened before the fight that people will point to, but at least Vettori was able to overcome the adversity that came with all the extra stuff and get the win.

Outstanding performance both before the fight and during it for Vettori.

UFC Fight Night: Ladd vs Dumont

October 16, 2021 | UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Nate Landwehr reacts after his victory over Ludovit Klein of Slovakia in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 16 2021 in Las Vegas Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Nate Landwehr reacts after his victory over Ludovit Klein of Slovakia in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 16 2021 in Las Vegas Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Performance of the Night: Jim Miller

The eternal Jim Miller picked up his first knockout win since UFC 200 more than five years ago with his effort against Erick Gonzalez. 

The first round was a little hectic for Miller, who was taken down and then rocked in the first round. However, Miller started finding a home for his left hand as the round came to a close. In the second frame, Miller pounced on a lazy kick from Gonzalez and connected flush with his left hand once again. The punch sent Gonzalez crumbling to the floor, and the stoppage came shortly after.

Performance of the Night: Nate Landwehr

Nate “The Train” Landwehr displayed a calculated and patient approach instead of his usual brawling style, and it led him to his first career submission win over Ludovit Klein. 

After a patient first round, Landwehr started to open up a little bit more and found success as the aggressor. With a growing confidence, Landwehr started throwing heavier in the third, and in the final frame, he wrestled Klein to the ground and sunk in a slick anaconda choke halfway through the third round. 

Performance of the Night: Bruno Silva

In a come-from-behind effort, Brazilian middleweight Bruno Silva showed that his power carries deep into fights with his third-round knockout win over Andrew Sanchez. Despite Sanchez’s heavy wrestling attack, Silva started to turn things around steadily. In the final round, Silva found his window of opportunity and dug hard to Sanchez’s body. He then unleashed a flurry upstairs and earned the stoppage midway through the third round. 

Performance of the Night: Danaa Batgerel

For the third-consecutive fight, Danaa Batgerel earned a first-round finish with a sharp TKO of Brandon Davis. Batgerel landed his right hand often to open the fight, and in just the second minute, that right hand put Davis onto the canvas. He poured it on after that and earned the finish moments later.

UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Rodriguez

October 9, 2021 | UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Fight of the Night: Mackenzie Dern vs Marina Rodriguez

Marina Rodriguez Kicks Mackenzie Dern

Brazilian strawweight risers Mackenzie Dern and Marina Rodriguez put on a highly intriguing main event fight, with Rodriguez putting on a disciplined clinic in a unanimous decision victory.The first round saw Rodriguez managing range and making reads. Dern pressed forward, eating a few low leg kicks and looking to close the distance, but it was the second round when Dern finally got the fight to the mat.

From there, Dern showed the skills that make her such a next-level danger on the ground, controlling Rodriguez and threatening several submissions. However, Rodriguez survived, and got back to dictating the terms of the fight in the third round. She continued to dish out low leg kicks, and she found more of a rhythm with her hands as well.Rodriguez continued to pour it on in the fourth round, but as her confidence grew, she overextended herself and Dern took the opportunity to drag the fight down and get to full mount. She only had 30 seconds to work, however, and the round finished before she landed any significant damage. The fifth round was all Rodriguez, who continued her disciplined attack while mitigating any danger coming from Dern.

Performance of the Night: Mariya Agapova

In her first fight in more than a year, Mariya Agapova showed the kind of improvements that can reignite the hype that buzzed around her early.Agapova weathered Mazo’s forward pressure well, countering well and investing in body shots. Over the course of the fight, she continued to piece Mazo up and worked her way up to landing several thudding shots upstairs. In the third round, Agapova found her range and connected flush with a right hand. When Mazo crumbled to the ground, Agapova immediately sunk in a rear naked choke to get the submission with stunning quickness.

 

Performance of the Night: Loopy Godinez

Loopy Godinez put it on Silvana Juarez from the jump, scoring three punches before shooting for a takedown. Once she got the fight to the mat, Godinez maintained control as Juarez tried to get back to her feet. Late in the round, Godinez took Juarez’ back, and after Juarez went the wrong way to escape, Godinez pounced quickly and locked up an arm bar to score a first-round submission win.

UFC Fight Night: Santos vs Walker

October 2, 2021 | UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Performance of the Night: Jamie Mullarkey

Jamie Mullarkey proved once again that he’s for real with another impressive finish at UFC Fight Night: Santos vs Walker. Mullarkey backed up his KO of Khama Worthy with a comeback win over highly touted prospect Devonte Smith.

Watch Mullarkey’s TKO in over Smith here

Mullarkey handled a strong first round from the Cleveland native and was able to put it all together in the second. The Australian connected with a flurry of strikes and knees until Smith was forced to cover up on the canvas.

The win pushes Mullarkey to 14-4 and has him set-up for big things going forward in the lightweight division.

Performance of the Night: Casey O’Neill

Casey O'Neill of Australia celebrates her TKO victory over Antonina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan in their women's flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night

I think it’s safe to say that the hype behind Casey O’Neill is picking up steam. At UFC Fight Night: Santos vs Walker she was able to TKO Antonina Shevchenko after dealing with some early adversity.

Watch O’Neill’s TKO win here

It was a big step up for “King” Casey and she delivered in a big way.

Performance of the Night: Douglas Silva de Andrade

Anytime a knockout punch sends someone flying it’s going to get some attention. Douglas Silva de Andrade landed a beautiful check left hook that sent Gaetano Pirrello to the mat and earned him a beautiful first round KO.

Performance of the Night: Alejandro Perez

After more than two years away from the Octagon, “Turbo” Perez was successful in his return to the Octagon. The bantamweight finisher returned to form against Johnny Eduardo, finding a slick armbar finish late I the second round.

Watch Perez’s Submission Win

The win moved Perez to 23-8-1 and helps him great right back on track in the tough bantamweight division.

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega

September 25, 2021 | T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

View The Fight Card | Official Scorecards | Full Results

Gross Total Revenue: $5,609,906.00 
Attendance: 19,029 (Sold Out) 

Alexander Volkanovski of Australia punches Brian Ortega in their UFC featherweight championship fight during the UFC 266 event on September 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Alexander Volkanovski of Australia punches Brian Ortega in their UFC featherweight championship fight during the UFC 266 event on September 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Fight Of The Night: Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega

After two duels with Max Holloway, a lingering feeling of doubt floated around Alexander Volkanovski’s title reign, but “The Great” put that to bed thanks to a more-than-willing dance partner in Brian “T City” Ortega. Together, they put on a title fight for the ages in T-Mobile Arena, and the belt stayed with the Australian after a gritty but dominant performance. 

The fight opened slowly as both men made their reads. They each got their shots in, and at round’s end, they both wore some damage on their face. Volkanovski turned things up a little bit in round two, upping the pace and staying in Ortega’s face, but to Ortega’s credit, he weathered the pressure and continued to land several hard punches of his own.

Ortega upped his own activity in the third round, but a clash of heads damaged Ortega’s nose and blook leaked from it steadily. However, he landed a punch that dropped the champ, and almost as quickly as Volkanovski hit the mat, Ortega jumped on his neck with a deep mounted guillotine choke. Somehow, Volkanovski slipped out and started dishing out ground-and-pound. Ortega flipped up a triangle choke that also seemed deep enough to submit the champion, but once again, Volkanovski escaped and dealt major damage to Ortega to end what might be the best round of 2021. 

In the fourth and fifth, despite major damage, Ortega hung tough and threatened Volkanovski with one more submission. It was all Volkanovski for the last 10 minutes, though, and he took home the unanimous decision win.

Performance Of The Night: Merab Dvalishvili

Merab Dvalishvili almost deserves a performance bonus for merely surviving the early onslaught from Marlon Moraes, but it was the clinic he put on afterwards that sealed his extra $50K.

Once he escaped Moraes' avalanche and achieved top position, there was no looking back for "Machine" who reigned holy terror hammerfists down on his helpless opponents until the referee--who had given "Magic" every seeming benefit of the doubt--had seen enough near the end of round two.

"I never got dropped before, that was my first time," Dvalishvili would say later. "But I'm a warrior fighter."

Indeed. With the win he ties Aljamain Sterling for the longest active UFC win streak in the bantamweight division with his sixth consecutive victory at 135 lbs. His overall UFC win streak is at seven.

Performance Of The Night: Chris Daukaus

Heavyweight Chris Daukaus pleaded his case for a double bonus, convinced that he knocked out opponent Shamil Abdurakhimov not once but twice.

It was the second instance, however, that was enough for referee Mark Smith to end the bout and seal another bonus for the pride of Philadelphia, who now finds himself sitting pretty in the Top 10.

Making the most of his time on the mic following the fight, he called out several potential opponents including Stipe Miocic (“fireman vs cop”), Alexander Volkanovski, Marcin Tybura or the winner of UFC 266’s Balydes vs Rozenstruik matchup.

With the win, Daukaus now has the second longest active UFC finish streak with four consecutive finishes (Francis Ngannou has five).

UFC Fight Night: Smith vs Spann

September 18, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Arman Tsarukyan Delivers The Finish He Promised | UFC Fight Night: Smith vs Spann
Arman Tsarukyan Delivers The Finish He Promised | UFC Fight Night: Smith vs Spann
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Performance Of The Night: Anthony Smith

"Lionheart" delivered on his seventh career performance bonus in the UFC after an emphatic first-round submission victory over Ryan Spann. After an even opening minute between the two light heavyweight contenders, Anthony Smith dropped Spann with a left hand, putting him in danger of an armbar submission before Spann returned to the feet. 

Smith was able to daze Spann again with another left before taking control of the back and forcing a tap from "Superman" by way of rear-naked choke. After a few moments of drama in the Octagon, Spann walked over to shake Smith's hand and show the earned and desired respect.

Performance Of The Night: Arman Tsarukyan

In his second showing of 2021, rising lightweight prospect Arman Tsarukyan made a statement to be observed the division with an assertive first-round finish over Christos Giagos. 

After displaying patience and level-headedness following an early scramble that landed Giagos in a position of control, Tsarukyan was able to make it back to the feet in time to stun Giagos, knocking him to the ground and reigning punches down until Herb Dean was forced to step in at the 2:09 mark.

Performance Of The Night: Nate Maness

Despite the delay, the bantamweight clash between Nate Maness and Tony Gravely lived up to every expectation. After a back and forth first round of grappling and getting knocked down for the first time in his professional career, Maness was quite literally saved by the bell, preventing Keith Peterson from stepping in and stopping Gravely's ground-and-pound.

Dazed in between rounds, it was unclear if Maness would be recovered when the second round started, but the Kentucky native was able to drop Gravely with a right hand of his own before sealing the deal with a few additional strikes.

Performance Of The Night: Joaquin Buckley

Joaquin Buckley bounced back from facing his first UFC loss with a show-stopping performance inside the Octagon with Antonio Arroyo. It's hard to tell what the outcome would have been if the fight had gone the distance, but Buckley left no questions unanswered after scoring a late finish over the Brazilian, halting the back and forth action at the 2:26 mark of round three.

UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Till

September 4, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Highlight: Paddy Pimblett Gets A Debut TKO Win | UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Till
Highlight: Paddy Pimblett Gets A Debut TKO Win | UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Till
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Fight of the Night: Molly McCann vs Ji Yeon Kim

Liverpool's Molly McCann got back to her winning ways, but she faced plenty of adversity in the form of the very game Ji Yeon Kim

The two set a high pace with McCann often pressing the action but Kim showing great footwork and distance management. A clash of heads sent McCann to the canvas in the first round, but she did well to bring the pressure and landed big, looping shots for the rest of the fight. Her flurries made the difference in a closely contested fight as she brought home the win on all three judges' scorecards.

Performance Of The Night: Paddy Pimblett

After all the hype, Paddy "The Baddy" Pimblett showed he was much more than a brash, confident talker. The dude can downright scrap. Against Luigi Vendramini, Pimblett faced some early challenges. Vendramini landed a flash punch on the Scouser, but Pimblett did well to recover and press the action. Once he landed his first big shot, Pimblett swarmed his opponent, eventually landing a huge right hand that sent Vendramini crashing to the canvas. 

Performance Of The Night: Tom Aspinall

One of the heavyweight division's brightest prospects kept his Octagon record spotless as Tom Aspinall earned another first-round TKO against Serghi Spivac. 

Aspinall did well to use his footwork and speed to outclass Spivac on the feet, and when the two clinched up, Aspinall strung together a knee to Spivac's body with a ferocious elbow up top to topple the Moldovan. England's Aspinall finished the job from there, moving to 4-0 in the UFC.

UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs Chikadze

August 28, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Abdul Razak Alhassan Lands The Fastest Head Kick KO In UFC History | UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs Chikadze
Abdul Razak Alhassan Lands The Fastest Head Kick KO In UFC History | UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs Chikadze
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Performance Of The Night: Giga Chikadze

Still perfect in his UFC career, standout featherweight Giga Chikadze extended his professional win streak to nine while scoring style points in his finish over perennial contender Edson Barboza. The Georgian came out strong from the start of the first bell, stoutly flaunting his aggression while making a huge statement in his first of what we can assume will be many UFC main events. 

It's hard to tell what's next for Chikadze, but having put away two UFC roster mainstays by way of finish in less than four months makes it exceedingly clear that the future, whatever it may hold, is bright for "Ninja."

Performance Of The Night: Gerald Meerschaert

Everybody loves the comeback story of an underdog — and that especially goes for Gerald Meerschaert's bank account. The middleweight will be leaving Las Vegas once again $50,000 richer, for the second time this year, despite the odds and dangerous start. "GM3" came away with his fourth career bonus after a second-round come-from-behind submission over Makhmud Muradov, who was previously unbeaten in 14 fights. 

Performance Of The Night: Abdul Razak Alhassan

Abdul Razak Alhassan needed a win in the worst way. Three straight losses had the powerful welterweight turned middleweight with his back against the wall, but he wouldn’t be denied against Alessio Di Chirico. Alhassan’s first strike, a head kick, landed flush and sent the Di Chirico to the canvas. That’s all she wrote.

17 seconds is all it took to change the trajectory of his career. It was the fastest head kick KO in UFC history and slated Alhassan as one of only seven fighters in UFC history to have three KOs in under one minute.

Performance Of The Night: Pat Sabatini

Pat Sabatini’s sophomore UFC performance was one he won’t soon forget. Sabatini was rocked early in his fight with Jamall Emmers, recovered quickly and was able to snatch one of Emmers legs.

Sabatini sunk in the heel hook while Emmers worked on a toe hold and for a few frantic seconds everything was up in the air until Emmers was forced to tap. It was a brilliant recovery and finish from the Sabatini, who is a fighter that fans need to keep their eyes on.

UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Gastelum

August 21, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Ignacio Bahamondes of Chile knocks out Roosevelt Roberts with a kick in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 21, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Ignacio Bahamondes of Chile knocks out Roosevelt Roberts with a kick in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 21, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Ignacio Bahamondes of Chile knocks out Roosevelt Roberts with a kick in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 21, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Performance Of The Night: Ignacio Bahamondes

Ignacio Bahamondes was well on his way to an impressive and clinical victory over Roosevelt Roberts when he uncorked a wheel kick in the last moments of the fight to earn an instant Knockout Of The Year contender.

The Chilean contender who earned his contract on Dana White's Contender Series showed impressive poise and power against Roberts, and in chasing the highlight reel finish, he confirmed he is absolutely a fighter to watch.

Performance Of The Night: Josiane Nunes

Few ways more impressive to introduce yourself to the UFC than earning a first-round knockout. Against strking standout Bea Malecki, Josiane Nunes blitzed her opponent from the jump, and as Malecki faded, Nunes poured on the pressure. Near the end of the first round, Nunes landed an atomic left hand that shattered Malecki and ended the fight.

Performance Of The Night: William Knight

Knight proved he is much more than an impressive physical specimen with his measured but motivated knockout win over Fabio Cherant. The two exchanged power shots early, but when Cherant moved forward, Knight connected with a quirky check hook that sent his opponent face-first into the canvas. For a follow-up celebration, Knight pulled off an impressive back handspring and seemed particularly keen on making a point to anyone who doubted his abilities.

Performance Of The Night: Alexandre Pantoja

Brazilian flyweight contender Alexandre Pantoja showed his experience and excellence in weathering the storm that is Brandon Royval. Despite Royval's nonstop pressure, Pantoja remained calm on the feet and in myriad grappling scrambles, and in the second round, he found his opening and secured a submission win. Afterward, he politely called out Brandon Moreno, who seemed keen on the challenge.

UFC 265: Lewis vs Gane

August 7, 2021 | Toyota Center in Houston, Texas

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Gate: $3.46 million
Attendance: 16,604

Bobby Green taunts Rafael Fiziev of Kyrgyzstan in their lightweight bout during the UFC 265 event at Toyota Center on August 07 2021 in Houston Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)
Bobby Green taunts Rafael Fiziev of Kyrgyzstan in their lightweight bout during the UFC 265 event at Toyota Center on August 07, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

Fight of the Night: Rafael Fizeiv vs Bobby Green

Lightweights Rafael Fiziev and Bobby Green closed out the UFC 265: Lewis vs Gane prelims with an absolute show. For three rounds the two traded both strikes and words as they duked it out in the Octagon.

Fiziev started strong, throwing heavy kicks and forcing Green to retreat to the fence. And while that was the theme for most of the fight, Green was slippery in his defence and landing with plenty of accuracy. Green’s counter strikes and jabs added up, especially in the third round. But it was Fiziev’s strong showing in the first rounds that made the difference in the fight.

Fiziev’s heavy output and his pressure were enough to get it done despite a strong third round from Green. Both lightweights pushed the pace for all 15 minutes and made sure to put on a show for the fight fans in Houston.

Performance of the Night: Ciryl Gane

France’s Ciryl Gane put on a technically proficient and dominant performance to capture the interim title over Derrick Lewis. “Bon Gamin” seemed unbothered in enemy territory, sticking to his usual gameplan of sharp footwork and smooth striking, puzzling Houston’s Lewis and rendering him rather hesitant to strike. Eventually, Gane’s commitment to the low kicks left Lewis as a prone target, and Gane bullrushed his way to a 3rd-round win, setting up a date with former teammate Frances Ngannou to unify the title.

Performance of the Night: Vicente Luque

"The Silent Assassin” was in prime form against Michael Chiesa, flipping the script on the grappler and locking in a signature D’Arce choke in the first round. Luque spent the early part of the opening frame chasing Chiesa down, but he found himself in a tough spot when Chiesa took his back. Methodically, Luque worked out of the spot, and when Chiesa left his neck out during a scramble, Luque took advantage. The win sets up a top-5 matchup or even a title shot for Luque, who extended his winning streak to four.

Performance of the Night: Miles Johns

Johns put together a well-measured, sharp striking performance to earn his 12th professional victory over Anderson dos Santos. He utilized plenty of sharp jabs and heavy leg kicks to immobilize dos Santos, and he kept the pressure on until the third round when he started to sit down on his strikes more. After a few thudding body shots, Johns followed one left to the body with a right hand that dropped Dos Santos and ended the fight early in round three.

Performance of the Night: Jessica Penne

Jessica Penne scored her second win in as many fights with a first-round submission over Karolina Kowalkiewicz. When Penne hit the Canvas and dared her opponent to follow her, she took advantage when Kowalkiewicz obliged. Eventually, Penne found her way to an armbar, and despite feisty defense from Kowalkiewicz, Penne methodically locked up the submission and the win.

UFC Fight Night: Hall vs Strickland

July 31, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Bryan Barberena (L) and Jason Witt (R) react after their welterweight fight at UFC Fight Night: Hall vs Strickland in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 31, 2021. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Bryan Barberena (L) and Jason Witt (R) react after their welterweight fight at UFC Fight Night: Hall vs Strickland in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 31, 2021. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Fight of the Night: Bryan Barberena vs Jason Witt

Anytime that Bryan Barberena fights you can expect a dog-fight and that’s exactly what Jason Witt thought was going to happen at UFC Fight Night: Hall vs Strickland.

Initially it didn’t look like the two welterweights were going to engage in a crazy brawl. Witt started off strong mixing in his takedowns and finding great success in the stand-up game. Witt dropped Barberena on multiple occasions and entered the third round feeling confident in his cardio and getting past the ultra-tough Barberena.

Then, out of nowhere, Barberena caught Witt, hurt him, and madness ensued. Witt was able to hold his own and withstand Barberena’s last ditch effort. It was a crazy fight and a great showing for Witt.

Performance of the Night: Cheyanne Buys

It only took a minute for Cheyanne Buys to get her first UFC victory. It was the perfect performance for the rising strawweight to showcase her explosiveness and justify the hype.

READ: Cheyanne Buys Feels Unstoppable

Buys landed a brilliant head kick as opponent Gloria de Paula got off the canvas. It sent the Brazilian crashing to floor and Buys followed up with some viscous ground and pound strikes causing the referee to call an end to the fight.And just like that, Buys was gone in 60 seconds.

Performance of the Night: Melsik Baghdasaryan

Armenia’s Melsik Baghdasaryan made it clear that he wanted to let everyone know he had arrived in the UFC in his debut, and he did so in a big way with a second-round TKO over fellow debutant Collin Anglin.

“The Gun” came out fast and hard at the first horn, throwing punches and kicks packed with his formidable power. The featherweights exchanged in some striking before Anglin scored a short-lived takedown, as Baghdasaryan made it back to his feet quickly to go to work until the end of the first round. The two Dana White’s Contender Series alums battled through most of the second round, with Baghdasaryan dictating the pace and pressure before ultimately landing a head kick that knocked Anglin clean to the ground, followed by a single hammer fist before referee Mark Smith stepped in to end it.

UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs Dillashaw

July 24, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Adrian Yanez punches Randy Costa in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 24, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Adrian Yanez punches Randy Costa in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 24, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Fight of the Night: Kyler Phillips vs Raulian Paiva

The bantamweight co-main event between Kyler Philips and Raulian Paiva was a tale of two fights. Round one was one fight and then rounds two and three was a whole different fight.

Phillips put on an absolute show in the first round, putting a beating on Paiva. It was spinning attacks, flying knees, submission attempts and it was massive power shots. In the final ten seconds Phillips went for broke, nearly finishing the fight, but Paiva was able to reach the end of the round.

INTERVIEW: See What Paiva Had To Say After His Big Win

That’s when Paiva got his head in the game. The former flyweight started landing bombs of his own and making it difficult for Phillips to connect with his dynamic strikes. Paiva used his toughness and his cardio in order to out strike Phillips in the second and third rounds, capitalizing when the two bantamweights hit the canvas.

With only one judge giving Phillips a 10-8 in the first round, Paiva was able to get 29-28, 29-28, 28-28 majority decision. It was a big time win and really gives Paiva the right foundation in his new division.

Performance of the Night: Adrian Yanez

Coming into UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs Dillashaw, both Adrian Yanez and Randy Costa had momentum. They captured the heart of fans and they put on a BANGER once the door shut.

In the first round Costa came out on fire, peppering Yanez with shots from all angles for the full five minutes. Yanez entered the second round a little busted up and with renewed focus and started putting it all together in a hurry. The Houston native started finding Costa’s body with big punches, pushing Costa to the edge.

HIGHLIGHT: Watch Yanez's TKO Victory

With Costa’s back up against the fence, Yanez landed two massive shots to Costa’s body and followed it up with a huge uppercut that dropped Costa. That was the end of the fight and the end of the debate. On 7/24/2021, Dr. Pepper reigns supreme.

Performance of the Night: Darren Elkins

37-years-young and still taking people out. Darren Elkins has been a mainstay in the UFC’s featherweight division because of his incredible toughness and his ability to win difficult positions. And that’s exactly what Elkins did against Darrick Minner at UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs Dillashaw.

In the first round, Minner was plastered all over Elkins, giving the Team Alpha Male fighter no room to breathe. Minner tried to submit Elkins numerous times but none of the attempts were tight enough to force Elkins to tap for the first time in his UFC career.

HIGHLIGHT: Watch Elkins Defeat Minner

Elkins flipped the script in the second round once he tired Minner out and eventually forced Minner into a crucifix position. From there, Elkins broke Minner, landing unanswered strikes until the referee called the bout.

It was a thrilling performance from “The Damage” and shows that he’s far from finished.

UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs Moises

July 17, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Rodolfo Vieira of Brazil secures a standing rear naked choke submission over middleweight Dustin Stoltzfus at UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs Moises in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 17, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Rodolfo Vieira of Brazil secures a standing rear naked choke submission over middleweight Dustin Stoltzfus at UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs Moises in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 17, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Fight Of The Night: Billy Quarantillo vs Gabriel Benitez

From start to finish, Billy Quarantillo and Gabriel Benitez had their feet on the gas. Both featherweights put on a show inside the UFC APEX, but it was Quarantillo that would shine brightest.

Quarantillo was able to find early success on the feet, knocking Benitez down and badly injuring “Moggly”. Although he wasn’t able to finish the fight after that knocked down, Billy Q continued to put the pressure on with his grappling attack. At the start of the final round Benitez hurt Quarantillo badly but Quarantillo was able to scramble his way out of danger and then get his wits about him.

That’s when Quarantillo took Benitez back and locked in another body triangle, this time however, he wasn’t going to let Benitez escape. Quarantillo started dropping bombs on a bloodied-up Benitez, forcing the referee to call an end to the bout.

It was an impressive performance for Quarantillo who improves to 4-1 inside the Octagon.

Performance of the Night: Mateusz Gamrot

Mateusz Gamrot wanted to make a statement at UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs Moises. Submitting UFC veteran Jeremy Stephens in just 65 seconds with a kimura definitely did the trick.

Gamrot went for a takedown early, secured it and when Stephens threatened a kimura, Gamrot flipped the script and finished Stephens in a flash. It was a brilliant performance for the Polish lightweight and sets him up for higher profile bouts in the near future.

Performance of the Night: Rodrigo Nascimento

For Rodrigo Nascimento, it was the tale of two fights. The first round of his heavyweight clash with Alan Baudot didn’t go as expected, with the Brazilian taking some damage and having difficulty finding his rhythm. The second rough however, went perfect. The jiu jitsu player let his hands do the talking, busting open Baudot with powerful shots until Baudot had to cover up and hit the deck.

It was the perfect bounce-back performance for Nascimento, who improved his record to 3-1 in the UFC.

Performance of the Night: Rodolfo Vieira

Coming off on the wrong side of big upset is never easy to deal with, but Rodolfo Vieira wasn’t about to let himself fall into a similar situation at UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs Moises. The Brazilian middleweight knew he was in for a tough test against Dustin Stoltzfus but he was able go back to his bread and butter.

Tied with a round a piece heading into the final round, Vieira took Stoltzfus’ back while standing and then launched his back to the canvas. He did so while simultaneously sinking in a rear naked choke that forced Stoltzfus to tap immediately. It was a very impressive finish and exactly how Vieira wanted to get back on track.

Performance of the Night: Miesha Tate

Welcome back Miesha Tate! After five years away from the Octagon, the former UFC bantamweight champion returned with a stellar performance against Marion Reneau. Tate’s third round TKO win was the first time that Reneau suffered a defeated by being stopped in her UFC career.

Talk about a magnificent way to start her climb back to the top.

UFC 264: Poirier vs McGregor 3

July 10, 2021 | T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Sean O'Malley punches Kris Moutinho in their bantamweight fight during the UFC 264 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Sean O'Malley punches Kris Moutinho in their bantamweight fight during the UFC 264 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Fight of the Night: Sean O’Malley vs Kris Moutinho

Stepping in on short-notice, UFC debutant Kris Moutinho gave rising bantamweight prospect Sean O’Malley all he could handle for the better part of three rounds in the opening bout of the main card.O’Malley looked sharp early, cracking Moutinho with creative combinations and heavy strikes, but the Massachusetts-native kept walking forward undeterred. It seemed like O’Malley finally was going to get the first-round stoppage when he connected with a big right hand before the horn, but Moutinho survived the rest of the frame.

The second and third round were much of the same. Moutinho marched forward, O’Malley circled, countered and peppered him with endless shots and an efficient clip, and there was a sense of growing frustration on O’Malley’s face about his inability to end the fight.As the final minute ensued, O’Malley continued his dominant form. Despite being bloodied and bruised, Moutinho never stopped advancing. Eventually, though, O’Malley’s flurries were too much, and Herb Dean saw enough to stop the fight with less than 30 seconds left in the final round.

Performance of the Night: Dricus Du Plessis

In his second UFC bout, South African middleweight prospect Dricus Du Plessis earned his second knockout win in the Octagon over Trevin Giles.Du Plessis pressed the action to begin and managed Giles’ strong counter-punching approach. He made adjustments along the way, implemented some grappling, and in the second round, De Plessis saw a window to starch Giles with a big right hand that ended the fight.

Performance of the Night: Tai Tuivasa

Tuivasa said all week he knew the fight would end early and figured he’d be the man who ended up on top, and the Australian was spot on as he scored a first-round knockout over Greg Hardy.Tuivasa peppered Hardy with leg kicks to start, and after Hardy appeared to connect with a big shot, “Bam Bam” launched a nuclear left hand to end the fight. Naturally, he followed with a celebratory and patented “shoey.”

UFC Fight Night: Gane vs Volkov

June 26, 2021 | UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Fight of the Night: Raoni Barcelos vs. Timur Valiev 

Had there been five more seconds at the end of round 2, the outcome would have been markedly different, but Timur Valiev made the most of his opportunity in the third round and escaped with the majority decision in an epic battle with Raoni Barcelos.

The final scores of 28-28, 29-28 and 29-28 paint a picture of how close the contest was, with both men fighting their hearts out. Valiev survived an absolute onslaught from Barcelos late in the second with an almost unexplainable, zombie-like to continue back to his feet.

All UFC Fight Night: Gane vs Volkov Results

“I expected a hard fight against this guy, he would say following the win. “I knew he would cut my head off, but I was prepared. I trained hard, this probably was my best camp, and I think on my next fights, I’ll look even better. I’m starting to feel this cage, this atmosphere, being part of the UFC… I’m so happy. Win, loss or draw, I knew I fought well. I made my coaches and family proud, that’s the most important part, but I thought that it would maybe be a draw or I would win. It’s the only results I’d accept.”

In an event filled with stunning standout performances, there was no peer for Fight Of The Night.

Performance of the Night: Kennedy Nzechukwu

If you haven’t paid any attention to UFC light heavyweight Kennedy Nzechukwu, it’s time to start. With back-to-back bonus worthy performances, Nzechukwu is officially on the map.

Watch Nzechukwu's TKO Victory

At UFC Fight Night: Gane vs Volkov, Nzechukwu was behind on two of the three judge’s scorecards heading into his third round with Danilo Marques. He opened up the first 20 seconds of the third round with a flurry of strikes that didn’t stop until the referee was forced to call the fight. Nzechukwu’s ability to dig deep and push through adversity is one of the biggest reasons that he is someone to keep an eye on at light heavyweight.

The 29-year-old Nzechukwu is 9-1 overall (3-1 in the UFC) and hopes to make the walk to the Octagon again in 2021.

Performance of the Night: Marcin Prachnio

What a turnaround for Marcin Prachnio. After starting out 0-3 in the UFC, Prachnio has responded perfectly with his back was against the wall. The Polish light heavyweight earned his second win in a row at UFC Fight Night: Gane vs Volkov, becoming just the third light heavyweight in the UFC’s modern era to earn a KO/TKO by body kick.

Watch Prachnio's Body Kick KO

Prachnio drilled opponent Ike Villanueva with 17 leg kicks in the first round, so he decided to aim higher at the beginning of the second frame. The strike found its mark and folded Villanueva over on the canvas putting an end to the fight.

With two wins in 2021, Prachnio looks to continue building on his momentum before the end of the year.

UFC Fight Night: The Korean Zombie vs Dan Ige

June 19, 2021 | UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Marlon Vera of Ecuador punches Davey Grant of England in a bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 19, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Marlon Vera of Ecuador punches Davey Grant of England in a bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 19, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Marlon Vera of Ecuador punches Davey Grant of England in a bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 19, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Fight of the Night: Marlon Vera vs. Davey Grant

The second bout between Marlon Vera and Davey Grant finished with "Chito" avenging his 2016 loss to Grant with a tough, violent unanimous decision victory. Grant got things going early, switching up his attack with kicks and winging punches, but Vera walked through the fire and continued to methodically work on his own attack. They scrambled on the ground and tested each other there, but when they returned to the feet, Vera started cashing in a few leg kicks.

In the second round, Grant kept up the pace, but Vera's offense started to have more impact. In a clinch situation, Vera connected with several elbows to Grant's forehead, opening up a cut on his foe. They returned to the mat, where Vera looked for a variety of submissions. Grant nearly locked in a guillotine choke of his own while Vera countered with a leg lock, and the two exchanged strikes until the horn sounded. 

The final frame saw Vera stuff a Grant takedown and fish for submissions. Grant connected with a few heavy shots when they got back to their feet, but Vera landed a flush knee and took Grant down. From there, Vera continued to land heavy ground-and-pound and came close to a submission before the fight came to an end. 

 

Performance of the Night: Matt Brown

Matt Brown made it a point to remind everyone of his status as a 40-year-old after scoring an emphatic one-punch knockout of Dhiego Lima in the second round of their fight. 

The first round saw Brown going through some adversity, eating several leg kicks and struggling to find much of a rhythm in the fight. It seemed like more of the same in the second round until Brown bit down on his mouthpiece, hit Lima to the body and then feinted the same shot before coming over the top with his right hand. Lima's lights went out almost immediately, and "The Immortal" tallied another iconic finish.

Performance of the Night: Seungwoo Choi

Korea's Seungwoo Choi put himself on the map as a name to watch after knocking out Julian Erosa in the first round.

Choi found his rhythm and distance quickly, but Erosa ate the shots well before continuing his forward pressure. In another exchange, Choi scored another big shot, landing a left hook that sat Erosa down on the canvas. His follow up shots forced the referee to stop the fight less than two minutes into the fight.

UFC 263: Adesanya vs Vettori

June 12, 2021 | Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona

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 Brandon Moreno of Mexico reacts after submitting Deiveson Figueiredo of Brazil to win the UFC flyweight championship fight during the UFC 263 event at Gila River Arena on June 12, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Brandon Moreno of Mexico reacts after submitting Deiveson Figueiredo of Brazil to win the UFC flyweight championship fight during the UFC 263 event at Gila River Arena on June 12, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Fight of the Night: Drew Dober vs Brad Riddell

The UFC’s lightweight division continues to deliver as one of the most exciting in the sport. This time around, it was a thrilling performance from both Brad Riddell and Drew Dober to close out the UFC 263 prelims.

For three rounds, the two talented strikers exchanged powerful blows, with neither Riddell or Dober faltering an inch. The first round went to Dober, as he scored the biggest moment of the round with a strike that forced Riddell to go for a takedown while he looked to recover from the blow. In the second, Riddell flipped a switch and started connecting with his laser overhand right, finding success nearly every time he threw it.

RELATED: Brad Riddell Fighter Feature | View Dober's Athlete Profile

That opened up the door for Riddell to take control as Dober began to fade down the stretch of the third round. Riddell applied the pressure and hurt Dober bad in the final minute of the bout. Riddell’s strong finish to the fight earned him the nod in the final frame. The win puts Riddell in a perfect spot to start his rise in the division's top 15 and as we've seen with each of Riddell's performance's thus far, they're not going to be match-ups you'll want to miss.

Performance of the Night: Brandon Moreno

Mexico officially has its first native-born UFC Champion. 

The rematch between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo lived up to the hype that's been built over the past six months as Moreno made history and earned the flyweight title in one fell swoop, submitting Figueiredo with a rear naked choke in the third round. Moreno was on fire right from the beginning, catching Figueiredo off guard with a jab with under two minutes left. Figueiredo bounced back in the second round this time taking Moreno down; however, Moreno’s solid defense allowed him to turn things around once again to pin down his opponent. 

It's More Than Just A Belt For Brandon Moreno

The flyweights continued to battle in the third, but once Moreno got his takedown there was no going back, forcing Figueiredo to tap at 2:26 of round three. Moreno leaves Gila River Arena donning a shiny new belt and $50,000 richer.

Performance of the Night: Paul Craig

After weeks of back and forth on social media following a postponement of their bout originally scheduled for March, Paul Craig delivered on the promises he made to outclass Jamahal Hill on the ground, handing Hill his first loss in mixed martial arts.

Paul Craig Won't Allow Himself To Be Distracted

After a minute of getting familiar with each other inside the Octagon, Craig clinched with Hill, pulling him to the ground and nearly locking up Hill’s arm on the way down. Hill was able to escape for a brief moment before Craig secured an armbar, injuring Hill in the process. Refusing to tap, the 14th-ranked light heavyweight fired off a few hammer fists to Hill’s head, forcing the referee to stop the fight just before the two minute mark and earning Craig his sixth performance of the night bonus in 12 UFC fights.

UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs Sakai 

June 5, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Santiago Ponzinibbio of Argentina punches Miguel Baeza in a welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 05, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Santiago Ponzinibbio of Argentina punches Miguel Baeza in a welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 05, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Fight of the Night: Santiago Ponzinibbio vs Miguel Baeza

The audience was the true winner of the welterweight slugfest that commentator Brendan Fitzgerald dubbed an “instant classic” at the conclusion of a brutal back-and-forth fifteen minutes. The scorecards pointed towards “The Argentine Dagger,” when it was all said and done, but so close was the action that no outcome was likely to be controversial.

With 3-rounds Santiago Ponzinibbio and Miguel Baeza cast their names in the race for fight of the year. What started out as a dominant first round for the rising Baeza slowly started to turn halfway through round two with Ponzibbio taking control of the match. Both fighters left it all in The Octagon.

"I feel so good," Ponzinibbio would say backstage. After 26 months I came back and took the worst loss of my career. I could have beaten this guy. The guy didn’t beat me in 15 minutes. It was just a lucky punch. That was very tough. Today, I had to work with all these feelings. My first round was to figure out who I am. It was a little slow. The second and third round I came on strong. That was the real Santiago Ponzinibbio."

Performance of the Night: Marcin Tybura

When his fight against Walt Harris began, it sure didn’t look like Marcin Tybura was going to come away with a win. But that’s the beauty of MMA, and by the time the dust had settled, Tybrura had claimed his 5th consecutive victory and tied Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane for the longest active UFC win streak in the heavyweight division. Only 7% of the fighters to ever compete in the UFC have won five consecutive UFC fights.

Referee Mark Smith gave Harris every opportunity he could to fight his way out of Tybura’s cyclonic ground-and-pound, but at 4:06 of the first round, enough was enough. If he had flown under the radar previously, Tybura may find it impossible to do so now.

“I was really surprised that my opponent didn’t learn that the storm doesn’t work with me anymore,” he told Heidi Androl following the big win.

Performance of the Night: Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Bigi Boy” made it 11 finishes out of 12 professional fights with a devastating TKO of Augusto Sakai just as time expired in the first round. Proving once again that his fists are nothing short of dynamite when he chooses to let them fly, the pride of Suriname continues to hover in among the elites of the heavyweight division.

“I’ve become more of an MMA fighter than a kickboxer,” he said of his evolution during his last camp. “I’m not afraid of guys taking me down anymore.”On that note, he mentioned wrestling ace Curtis Blaydes as a potential next opponent. “If he wants it, and he’s ready? Let’s go.”

UFC Fight Night: Font vs Garbrandt

May 22, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Carla Esparza punches Yan Xiaonan of China in their women's strawweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 22, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Carla Esparza punches Yan Xiaonan of China in their women's strawweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 22, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Fight Of The Night: Justin Tafa vs Jared Vanderaa

These big boys came to fight. Both Justin Tafa and Jared Vanderaa gave it everything they had inside the Octagon. For 15 minutes did everything they could to take out the man standing across from them, but in the end, it was Vanderaa who left the UFC APEX with his first career UFC win.

Vanderaa’s activity and variety of attacks helped him keep the powerful Australian from landing a knockout blow. Vanderaa suffered a really bad cut on his forehead, but despite the blood running down his chest, the Team Quest product remained unfazed and earned the victory.

Performance Of The Night: Bruno Silva

If you want to get the attention of UFC brass and fight fans alike, back-to-back KOs is a good way to do it.

Flyweight Bruno Silva’s one minute highlight reel KO of Victor Rodriguez earned the Brazilian his second performance bonus award in a row and has him in an excellent position to be moving up the flyweight latter.

Don’t be surprised if Silva’s performance either puts a number by his name or earns him a shot at a ranked flyweight.

Performance Of The Night: Carla Esparza

The inaugural strawweight queen continued her dominance at UFC Fight Night: Font vs Garbrandt.

Carla Esparza extended her win streak to five, after dominating nearly every second of her co-main event showdown with Yan Xiaonan. Esparza took the fight to the mat and then she went to work, connecting with 169 total ground strikes which is the second highest total in UFC strawweight history. In the second round Esparza was able to force Yan into the crucifix position and finish the fight. It was just the eleventh UFC finish by KO/TKO in the crucifix position ever.

What a performance from Esparza, only big fights loom for her now. Including a potential rematch with champion Rose Namajunas.

UFC 262: Oliveira vs Chandler

May 15, 2021 | Toyota Center in Houston, Texas

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Charles Oliveira of Brazil punches Michael Chandler in their UFC lightweight championship bout at Toyota Center on May 15, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Charles Oliveira of Brazil punches Michael Chandler in their UFC lightweight championship bout at Toyota Center on May 15, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Fight Of The Night: Shane Burgos vs Edson Barboza

When it was announced that Shane Burgos would face Edson Barboza, the fans knew exactly the type of fight they were in for. It was Barboza's explosiveness versus Burgos' toughness, and in the end, the Brazil won the war.

Heading into the third round it was a close fight, one that featured plenty of big moments for both fighters. But Barboza caught Burgos with a right hook to the temple that had a delayed effect, not really causing damage until a few seconds have passed. That's when Burgos stumbled backwards into the cage and Barboza charged in for the finish.

It was an amazing performance and absolutely worthy of FOTN.

Performance Of The Night: Charles Oliveira

Charles Oliveira is the UFC lightweight champion. 

Let that sink in for a moment. "Do Bronx" became the 11th man to hold the UFC lightweight belt and he did it in spectacular fashion. Oliveira has finished 8 of his last 9 fights, and his second round knockout of Michael Chandler gives him 17 finishes for his UFC career. That's the most in UFC history.

The TKO came after Oliveira faced plenty of adversity from the powerful Michael Chandler and for a moment, it looked as if Chandler was going to walk away from the Toyota Center in Houston with the title. But Oliveira came out strong to start the second round, dropping Chandler right off the bat and finishing him in under 20 seconds.

Congratulations Charles, you earned it.

Performance Of The Night: Christos Giagos

Christos Giagos picked up his second win in a row, submitting Sean Soriano via a D'arce Choke. It was Giagos' first finish victory since 2015 and it came after Soriano came out strong in the opening frame.

Giagos moved to 19-8 with the victory and sets himself to get start a real run in a packed lightweight division.

UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs Waterson

May 8, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Gregor Gillespie takes down Diego Ferreira of Brazil in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 08, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Gregor Gillespie takes down Diego Ferreira of Brazil in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 08, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Fight Of The Night: Deigo Ferreira vs Gregor Gillespie

Ranked lightweights went to war at UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez Vs. Waterson. Both Diego Ferreira and Gregor Gillespie absolutely put the pedal to the metal in the first round of their bout, scrambling and fighting for positions for nearly the entire five minutes.

It was non-stop action and for the most part it seemed as if Ferreira was able to come out in the better position after each scramble. Neither inflicted a ton of damage in the first round but both fighters seemed to empty the tank trying to get the upper hand.

That’s at least how it appeared, but New York’s Gillespie turned on the jets in the second round. Beating Ferreira with his relentless wrestling and his ability to be a step ahead. With time ticking away in the final minute Gillespie overwhelmed Ferreira and starting firing away shots as Ferreira turtled up. That was enough for ref, as he called the fight in the final seconds of round two.

It was a triumphant and emotional moment for Gillespie, who improved to 14-1 and regained his footing in the stacked lightweight division.

Performance Of The Night: Alex Morono

Fighting Donald Cerrone on a week notice is not an easy task, but it’s one that Texas’ Alex Morono couldn’t have been more excited for. Morono opened the fight wasting no time, charging the 37 UFC fight veteran. Morono kept that pace the entire time, pushing the action and walking Cerrone down.

Morono’s deadly right hand continued to find its mark and eventually it sent Cerrone backing up to the fence. That’s when Morono let out a barrage of strikes and knees that busted Cerrone up even worse and forced the referee to call an end to the fight inside of the buzzer.

What a night for Morono, who earns the biggest win of his career and leaves Las Vegas with an extra $50,000 that he plans to use to buy his wife a new car.

Performance Of The Night: Carlston Harris

Earning a bonus in your UFC debut is a power play and it definitely goes a long way in getting you noticed. That’s exactly what Carlston Harris accomplished by securing an anaconda choke submission against Christian Aguliera.

The 33-year-old welterweight became just the 19th UFC fighter to ever complete the submission inside the Octagon.

UFC Fight Night: Reyes vs Prochazka

May 1, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic knocks out Dominick Reyes in a light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 01, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic knocks out Dominick Reyes in a light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 01, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Fight Of The Night: Dominick Reyes vs Jiri Prochazka

As advertised, Jiri Prochazka and Dominick Reyes delivered in their high-stakes, heavy-handed chess match to determine the next potential light heavyweight title challenger.

Reyes, making reading Prochazka's unorthodox style and movement look easy, set the pace with the stand-up and ground game early on in the first round, before being tagged with a few hard shots by Prochazka. The two-time title challenger and the Czech engaged in a slugfest before being broken up by the bell at the end of the first round.

Prochazka was humbled by a left hand midway through the second round that eventually led to a guillotine attempt by Reyes. Unfazed by the dangerous position, Prochazka threw some strikes of his own on the ground before returning to the feet and eventually ending the fight by way of a spinning left elbow. In just his second UFC fight, Prochazka extended his professional win streak to 12 in a big way, and his knockout streak to ten.

Performance Of The Night: Giga Chikadze

Georgian fighters were a perfect 2-0 in the Octagon this night when Giga Chikadze joined Merab Dvalishvili in the win column via a short and sweet TKO victory over veteran Cub Swanson. A savage, perfectly-placed kick to the liver started the sequence that would end Swanson’s night, finishing him with some ground-and-pound just over a minute into the fight. His sixth straight win is now good for the third-longest streak in the featherweight division.

Performance Of The Night: Jiri Prochazka

It was only the third spinning back elbow KO in UFC history in only his second trip to the Octagon, and already Jiri Prochazka is hearing his named mentioned as a potential contender for light heavyweight gold. Despite eating any number of shots that would have put away most other opponents, Prochazka was able to drop bombs at will throughout the near two rounds he shared with Dominick Reyes, finding his range early and often. But the elbow that sent Reyes spilling to the canvas is one we’ll see for years to come on UFC “best of” highlight reels…and rightly so.

UFC 261: Usman vs Masvidal 2

April 24, 2021 | VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida

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Rose Namajunas kicks Zhang Weili of China in their UFC women's strawweight championship bout during the UFC 261 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. Rose Namajunas kicks Zhang Weili of China in their UFC women's strawweight championship bout during the UFC 261 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Nolan Walker)

Rose Namajunas kicks Zhang Weili of China in their UFC women's strawweight championship bout during the UFC 261 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Nolan Walker)

Rose Namajunas kicks Zhang Weili of China in their UFC women's strawweight championship bout during the UFC 261 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Nolan Walker)

Fight Of The Night: Jeffery Molina vs Aoriqileng

A pair of debuting flyweights set a high standard early and each walked away with a Performance Bonus for their 3-round war at UFC 261. 

After Jeffery Molina and Aoriqileng exchanged early, Aoriqileng tallied a takedown. Molina responded quickly and got back to the feet, but Aoriqileng kept the forward pressure heavy. The second frame was more of the same until Molina scored a flash knockdown, and Aoriqileng responded with one of his own. At the end of the round, though, Molina countered a kick with a flush right hand that sat Aoriqileng on the canvas.

In the third, Molina stood his ground more and met forward pressure with his own, getting the best of most of the exchanges en route to scoring a unanimous decision win.

Performance Of The Night: Kamaru Usman

"The Nigerian Nightmare" proved once again why he is the king of the welterweight division. Welcoming Jorge Masvidal to the doorstep once again, Usman took Masvidal's best shots and responded with another dominate title defense, this time via a second-round knockout win. 

Although Masvidal appeared confident in the second round, Usman was the one with the last laugh after connecting with a cracking right hand that dropped Masvidal. The follow-up shots put an end to a memorable night, and Usman once again proved his greatness.

Performance Of The Night: Rose Namajunas

"Thug" Rose Namajunas became the first woman in UFC history to recapture her title, and she did so in stylish and emphatic fashion. Early in the first round, Namajunas threw a front-side leg kick to Zhang Weili's head, dropping the Chinese champion and finishing the fight before it ever really got started.

It was a beautiful finish for Namajunas, who allowed the emotion to pour out from her in the Octagon after the fight. It starts yet another title reign for the 28-year-old, and she seems to be still coming into her prime.

"No matter who my opponents are, I want to defend this as many times as I can," Namajunas said. "But what I really want to do is to use this to build MMA academies in a couple different locations, so that’s the idea and vision that I had this week. I always knew an idea of what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to work it into my career and so that’s my plan, I still have to go hash it out, but that’s my vision."

UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs Gastelum

April 17, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Robert Whittaker of Australia punches Kelvin Gastelum in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 17, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Robert Whittaker of Australia punches Kelvin Gastelum in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 17, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Fight Of The Night: Robert Whittaker Vs Kelvin Gastelum

Top ten middleweights Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum justified the hype behind their heavily anticipated fight. The two men went the five-round distance, with “The Reaper” controlling the action the entire way.

The former middleweight champion connected with 150 significant strikes, the second most ever landed in a 5-round middleweight fight and the fourth most in the middleweight history overall.

Whittaker’s movement and speed advantage was on clear display as he peppered Gastelum while mixing in some takedowns as well. Gastelum was able to land nearly 75 significant strikes himself, making the contest interesting despite the Whittaker’s impressive performance.

The win was Whittaker’s third in row and a rematch with UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya seems to be what’s next up for “The Reaper”.

Performance Of The Night: Gerald Meerschaert

Gerald Meerschaert got a much-needed trip to the win column in the most Gerald Meerschaert way ever: by securing a guillotine choke on Bartosz Fabinski just two minutes into the fight.

It was the pride of Wisconsin's sixth UFC submission, a new UFC middleweight record that surpasses the likes of Demian Maia and Thales Leites. The extra cash will no doubt come in handy as the Meerschaert clan plans to welcome a new baby imminently.

"Any day now, I’m going to be a brand new dad so I have to get back and do that. Perfect-case scenario, I get back home, spend some time with the family and hopefully come back one more time before the end of the year."

Performance Of The Night: Tony Gravely

Tony Gravely was ready to make his mark delivering his first finish in The Octagon after knocking out Anthony Birchak.

Known for his wrestling, Gravely wanted to put the 135-pound division on notice and show off his more complete skills as a fighter. Birchak mounted his defense but with relentless pressure, Gravely was able to maintain control setting up the 2 round finish.

UFC Fight Night: Vettori vs Holland

April 10, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Julian Marquez Finishes Sam Alvey Via Submission | UFC Fight Night: Vettori Vs Holland
Julian Marquez Finishes Sam Alvey Via Submission | UFC Fight Night: Vettori Vs Holland
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Fight Of The Night: Sam Alvey vs Julian Marquez

Julian Marquez has quickly made up for lost time in the Octagon, earning bonuses in back-to-back performances. At UFC Fight Night: Vettori Vs Holland, the Dana White’s Contender Series grad stepped in on relatively short notice to face veteran light heavyweight Sam Alvey.

Marquez and Alvey battled in a fun first round which featured moments for both fighters. Marquez applied the pressure as Alvey used his sharp counterstrikes to inflict damage upon the Glory MMA product.

In the second round Marquez’s hands found their target, stumbling Alvey. That’s when Marquez poured it on, throwing hammer fists at his turtled-up opponent. Marquez switch tactics, sinking in a deep rear naked choke while Alvey was on his knees and putting an end to fight.

It was fast paced, and it was fun. Marquez moves to 9-2 and has his 2021 off to a great start.

Performance Of The Night: Mackenzie Dern

Mackenzie Dern is on fire.

The jiu jitsu world champion showed her evolution as a striker in her last fight against Virna Jandiroba and she showed her killer instinct at UFC Fight Night: Vettori vs Holland.

Welcoming Nina Nunes back to the Octagon after nearly two years, Dern pushed the pace early in the fight. She used her strikes and forward pressure to set-up a takedown. Once she was able to get Nunes to the canvas she slowly but surely maneuvered herself into position to attempt an armbar.

It took a few moments but once she was able to fight off Nunes’ hands, the tap came almost simultaneously with the extension of Nunes’ arm.

That’s four in-a-row for Dern and the win puts her right in the top five of the always tough UFC strawweight division. Dern (11-1) has shown she is a true contender and it will be interesting to see what is next for her.

Performance Of The Night: Mateusz Gamrot

If you didn’t know who Mateusz Gamrot was before UFC Fight Night: Vettori Vs Holland, you should start paying attention. At 18-1, 1NC there is no question that Poland’s Gamrot is someone to keep an eye on.

Gamrot fell victim to a close decision bout on UFC Fight Island in his UFC debut, but showed that he wouldn’t let that loss derail him by knocking out lightweight veteran Scott Holtzman.

It was a perfectly placed 1-2 that stunned Holtzman, with some follow-up strikes from Gamrot to close the show.

UFC 260: Miocic vs Ngannou 2

March 27, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Vicente Luque Post-Fight Interview | UFC 260: Miocic v Ngannou 2
Vicente Luque Post-Fight Interview | UFC 260: Miocic v Ngannou 2
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Fight of the Night: Tyron Woodley vs. Vicente Luque

In the biggest fight of his career, Vicente Luque showed he was capable of beating the best the division has to offer after knocking out Tyron Woodley in the first round. People wondered what version of Tyron Woodley would come out against the all-action Luque, and the former champ looked as dangerous as ever after suffering a trio of losses.

Woodley came out hot, unleashing his patented overhand rights, even stumbling the Brazilian midway through the round. Luque dug in and fired back as he always does, though. The two slugged it out in explosive flurries, and eventually, Luque had "The Chosen One" rocked badly. Although Woodley fired winging punches back, Luque evaded well and eventually got the fight to the ground. There, he quickly locked up the submission and announced himself as a true welterweight contender.

Performance of the Night: Francis Ngannou

The new heavyweight king captured his throne in typically emphatic fashion. Francis Ngannou showed the years of work he put after his first fight against Stipe Miocic, stuffing takedowns, showing patience and eventually earning another stunning knockout win. With a bevy of options awaiting, Ngannou's era as the Baddest Man On The Planet begins, and he appears primed for that responsibility.

Performance of the Night: Sean O’Malley

The Sugar Show found his flow against Thomas Almeida and got back into the win column with another knockout win. O'Malley nearly finished the fight in the first round after a head kick and punches, but "Sugar" got to get a couple more rounds of work in before finishing the fight in powerful fashion in the third round. It was a nice return to form for the young bantamweight, and so, the show rolls on to the next fight.

UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Holland

March 20, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Max Griffin punches Song Kenan of China in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on March 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC )
Max Griffin punches Song Kenan of China in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on March 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC )

Performance of the Night: Max Griffin

Right now is a good time to be Max Griffin. The welterweight veteran has fought the who's who in the division and he stepped up in a big way during the event's co-main event.

Griffin's bout with Song Kenan didn't last long, with Griffin finding a power right cross as Kenan kicked. The strike made Kenan stumbled back against the Octagon, where he was greeted by a furious combination from Griffin that dropped Kenan face down on the canvas. It was a nasty finish, that Griffin called "stone cold" in post-fight interviews.

Griffin has momentum and he's feeling it, that makes him a must watch going forward.

Performance of the Night: Adrian Yanez

What's better than getting a performance bonus in your UFC debut? Getting one in your sophomore performance.

That's just what Adrian Yanez did, he took care of business against Gustavo Lopez and is starting to get some real attention as a top prospect in the stacked bantamweight division. Throughout the fight it was clear Yanez had the advantage on the feet, he was consistently out-striking Lopez and landing powerful shots time and time again. Finally, Yanez hit the home run shot, landing a laser right in the second round that would end the night for Lopez.

Yanez is a breath of fresh air on the mic as well, full of energy and truly enjoying the process. He is living the dream and that's part of his success.

Performance of the Night: Grant Dawson

The last time that Leonardo Santos lost a fight Grant Dawson was 15 years old. Let that sink in.

Well, Grant Dawson ended Santos’ impressive streak in style, knocking out Santos with just one second left in their lightweight bout. Up to that point, it was a close fight and Dawson was hunting a finish. We often hear the phrase “don’t let it go to the judge’s scorecards” and Dawson wasn’t about to let it do that.

So with 10 seconds remaining he starting reigning down massive hammer fists that sent Santos’ mouthpiece and consciousness into orbit. It was a fantastic display for the lightweight prospect, who now has won 8 straight.

Performance of the Night: Bruno Silva

In the last fight on his UFC contract, flyweight Bruno Silva picked up an emphatic first win in the Octagon with a second-round TKO of UFC debutant JP Buys. A longtime training partner of Henry Cejudo, "Bulldog's" grappling and ground game were put to the test against Buys, who made his start in combat sports in wrestling. The Brazilian prevailed in a big way, scoring three knockdowns en route to his victory, which ties the single-fight UFC flyweight record.

With sights of his first UFC victory now in the rear-view, Silva looks to return to the Octagon as soon as it'll have him.

UFC Fight Night: Edwards vs Muhammad

March 13, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Dan Ige knocks out Gavin Tucker of Canada in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on March 13, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Dan Ige knocks out Gavin Tucker of Canada in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on March 13, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Performance of the Night: Ryan Spann

UFC light heavyweight Ryan Spann bounced back in a big way when he defeated Misha Cirkunov at UFC Fight Night: Edwards Vs Muhammad. The Texas native found a home for a big straight right that put Cirkunov on the mat early in the first, but he showed great patience in letting Cirkunov stand back up. From their the writing was on the wall and "Superman" Spann dropped Cirkunov once more, this time following it up with a flurry of hammer fist punches.

The win puts Spann in a great place, and likely earns him a top 10 ranked fight in the thick of the light heavyweight division.

Performance of the Night: Dan Ige

It took Dan "50K" Ige just 22 seconds to earn his 50K bonus this time. It was one straight punch that turned off the lights on Gavin Tucker. It was a satisfying performance for the 9th ranked featherweight, who hasn't fought since his main event bout on UFC Fight Island last July. The knockout was the sixth fastest in UFC featherweight history.

Ige proved once again that just because he changed his name from "Dynamite" to "50K" that he can't be both. Up next for Ige is the birth of his first child. What a start to 2021 for one of Hawaii's finest.

Performance of the Night: Davey Grant

It's been tough for Davey Grant to get in the Octagon. That's why he knew he had to make the most of his opportunity against tough bantamweight Jonathan Martinez.

In the first round, Grant was dropped by a massive strike from Martinez. He was able to get his wits about him and survive the round and get reminded by his coaches that he's comeback from worse. That remark prompted a laugh from Grant and then he delivered in round two by knocking Martinez out with a massive looping hook.

It was madness and it was exactly the moment that Grant wanted to follow up his recent knockout of Martin Day.

Performance of the Night: Matthew Semelsberger

Who says second impressions can't be better than firsts? Matthew Semelsberger's first fight out didn't result in a finish, so he made sure to get one in the first 16 seconds of his welterweight bout with Jason Witt. It was a very impressive showing for Semelsberger who earned the seventh fastest welterweight finish in UFC history with the knockout.

2-0 in the UFC and riding the momentum, it's a good time to be "Semi The Jedi".

UFC 259: Blachowicz vs Adesanya

March 6, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Kennedy Nzechukwu of Nigeria punches Carlos Ulberg of New Zealand in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC 259 event at UFC APEX on March 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Kennedy Nzechukwu of Nigeria punches Carlos Ulberg of New Zealand in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC 259 event at UFC APEX on March 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Kennedy Nzechukwu of Nigeria punches Carlos Ulberg of New Zealand in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC 259 event at UFC APEX on March 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Fight of the Night: Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Carlos Ulberg

Kennedy Nzechukwu and Carlos Ulberg had an all-out slugfest, one that featured several momentum swings and ended with an emphatic knockout.

Ulberg stormed Nzechukwu right away and rocked him with a high kick. After Nzechukwu weatered Ulberg's ensuing swarm, he started to gain some traction with his own strikes. Eventually, he rocked Ulberg and then the war truly started. A body-focused attack from Ulberg seemed to nearly earn the stoppage, only for Nzechukwu to return with a spicy 1-2 followed with his own flurry. He was the fresher fighter in the second round, and while Ulberg never backed down, Nzechukwu was slightly more sharper. In one such exchange, Nzechukwu took advantage of Ulberg's low guard and landed a cracking right hand to start the finishing sequence.

Performance of the Night: Uros Medic

Contender Series alum Uros Medic shot out of the canon in his UFC debut, earning a stoppage win in less than two minutes. Aalon Cruz came out hot, but Medic remained calm and rocked Cruz with a check hook. After Cruz attempted to grapple, Medic caught Cruz with a left hand and unleashed a flurry of unanswered ground strikes to get the win.

Performance of the Night: Kai Kara-France

Kai "Don't Blink" Kara-France earned his nickname after earning a walk-away knockout over Rogerio Bontorin.

Bontorin took Kara-France down early and threatened several submissions for most of the first round. Soon enough, though, Kara-France got the fight back to the feet. There, Kara-France unleashed three powerful right hands that sent Bontorin face-first to the canvas. The finish was Kara-France's first of his UFC career and was an emphatic way to get back into the winner's circle.

UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs Gane

February 27, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Pedro Munhoz of Brazil and Jimmie Rivera talk after their bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 27, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Pedro Munhoz of Brazil and Jimmie Rivera talk after their bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 27, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
 

Pedro Munhoz of Brazil and Jimmie Rivera talk after their bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 27, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Fight of the Night: Pedro Munhoz vs Jimmie Rivera

Almost six years after their first epic meeting, bantamweight contenders Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera gave an encore that did their initial bout proudly. Munhoz took the commanding unanimous decision win, cementing his place among the best of the division and evening the score with Rivera.

Both men threw heat as soon as the fight started, eating shots and delivering bigger ones as soon as the fight started. Munhoz found some traction via leg kicks, leaving Rivera in pain and hobbled, but "El Terror" bit down on his mouthpiece and stayed in the fight. Rivera tried to mix things up as the fight went on, but Munhoz shucked off his takedowns and looked for the seminal blow. Munhoz continued to pour on the painful pressure toward Rivera's legs as the fight grew, but Rivera countered well with haymakers up top. 

The two didn't let up from bell to bell and shared great respect for each other at the end of the bout. The scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Munhoz, and most left the bout feeling like a trilogy bout would be in order in the future.

Performance of the Night: Ronnie Lawrence

UFC debutant Ronnie Lawrence showed off a well-versed, well-rounded skillset in his win over Vince Cachero. He got to work quickly in the first round, scoring a strong right hand late in the frame. He showed off his ability to mix things up, racking up a trio of takedowns and doing damage to Cachero's legs and body. Lawrence continued a relentless pace, upping the tempo in the third round in which featured a suplex and a barrage of ground-and-pound to get the finish midway through the third round.

UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Lewis

February 20, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Derrick Lewis reacts after his knockout victory over Curtis Blaydes in a heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Derrick Lewis reacts after his knockout victory over Curtis Blaydes in a heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Performance Of The Night: Derrick Lewis

The KO king reigned supreme once again at UFC Fight Night: Blaydes Vs Lewis. Derrick Lewis waited for his opportunity to land a massive uppercut in the second round that completely shut the lights off for Curtis Blaydes. This type of fight is what we've grown accustom to from "The Black Beast". He waits for his moment and knocks out his opponent and then leaves the Octagon with a win and an extra $50,000.

Performance Of The Night: Chris Daukaus

Chris Daukaus's rise deserves attention. He took out two tough guys early in his first two UFC appearances, so the UFC gave him a step-up in competition. They gave him the ultra dangerous Aleksei Oleinik and what did Daukaus do? He passed with flying colors, doing exactly what he had done in his first two fights. He picked Oleinik apart and he made it look easy.

Daukaus landed heavy strikes and poured on combos, nearly prompting the fight to be stopped on more than one occasion. With Oleinik covering up against the fence, Daukaus didn't stop throwing haymakers and forced the referee to call it before the first bell rang.

Big things are on the horizon for Daukaus, who will find a shiny number next to his name next week.

Performance Of The Night: Tom Aspinall

England's Tom Aspinall started off the main card in a big way. He, like Daukaus, took out his first two opponents with ease and then was given a veteran heavyweight. In Aspinall's case, he was given former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski and he went out there and showed he absolutely is a prospect that people should keep their eyes on. 

Aspinall hurt Arlovski early, causing Arlovski to protect himself up against the cage. That's when Aspinall turned on the jets and unleashed a flurry of strikes that nearly ended the bout in the first round. But Arlovski was able to survive the round and make it to the second. It was there that Aspinall switched up his attack, successfully taking Arlovski down with a beautiful double leg where he quickly transitioned to Arlovski's back and sunk in a rear naked choke.

It was very impressive and it should be very interesting to see who Aspinall matches up with next.

Performance Of The Night: Aiemann Zahabi

What a win for Aiemann Zahabi. After dropping his first two UFC contests he knew he needed a win and he knew he needed to do it in impressive fashion. He accomplished just that by connecting a masterful straight shot that sent Drako Rodriguez to the canvas. It was a clean knockout and it was a huge moment for the Canadian.

UFC 258: Usman vs Burns

February 13, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Polyana Viana locks in the arm bar to win | UFC 258: Usman vs Burnsf
Polyana Viana locks in the arm bar to win | UFC 258: Usman vs Burnsf
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Performance of the Night: Kamaru Usman

When you pass the great Georges St-Pierre for most wins at welterweight, you’ve created your own rarified air, and the reigning champion did it in style against former teammate Gilbert Burns. Weathering a first round that saw him eating some huge shots, Usman stormed back in the second, rocking from the Brazilian with some wicked strikes that paid homage to new coach Trevor Wittman and training partner Justin Gaethje. But the performance was vintage Usman, who needed all of 34 seconds of the third round to finish the deed with a TKO.

Despite another stellar outing, the win at the expense of his longtime friend proved bittersweet.

""This one was hard for me. It's hard to come in without all the emotions. Gilbert is a guy that I've known from the start. I love him. This one was tough for me to deal with."

Performance of the Night: Julian Marquez

31 months removed from his last Octagon appearance, Julian Marquez made the most of his return with an anaconda choke of Maki Pitolo. Down on the scorecards heading into the final frame, “The Cuban Missle Crisis” dug deep to complete the long comeback from the injury that sidelined him.

“This fight explained everything that happened on that road,” Marquez agreed. “Everybody is counting you down, people start letting go of you and your belief in coming back and returning. You’re taking a lot of hits, you’re coming up and down, there are some good moments, some bad moments, and at the end of it all, you came back with stunning fashion, you shocked the world and you probably got a performance bonus. That’s exactly how that happened.”

Performance of the Night: Anthony Hernandez

The betting experts had an Anthony Hernandez submission vs Rodolfo Vieira at a whopping +3000. Anyone who might have placed that bet likely went home nearly as happy as Hernandez himself, as he became the first man to defeat the Brazilian with a wild guillotine choke in the second round.

MORE UFC 258: Final ResultsAlexa Grasso Post-Fight InterviewRicky Simon Post-Fight InterviewKelvin Gastelum Post-Fight Interview | Belal Muhammad Post-Fight Interview

“I’m not afraid to fight anybody,” he said backstage following the fight. “At the end of the day I know my coaches and my team will get me prepared. It’s plain and simple. I got into this sport because I knew I could be the best and just because he is 7-0 doesn’t mean he’s unbeatable…I love to beat people at their own game, because then it’s just like ‘where did you beat me at?’, because if you beat them at their best, they have no excuse, so I wanted to give him no excuses.”

Performance of the Night: Polyana Viana

This is the odd outing where it was actually impressive that Mallory Martin lasted more than three minutes again Brazilian submission ace Polyana Viana. Controlling every aspect of the tilt from the opening bell, it seemed to never be a matter of “if” but “when” she would cement the victory that came at 3:18 of the first round with a clinical and brutal armbar.

“I’m really happy. Another submission win showing how sharp my jiu-jitsu is, but my standup game is on point too. I wanted to show it a little bit more, but the submission came and I’m happy with that. I didn’t think she would give me the opportunity to put her down so fast, but that was also part of my strategy.”

UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs Volkov

February 6, 2021 | UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

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Cory Sandhagen Gets Flying Knee Knockout | Fight Night: Overeem vs Volkov
Cory Sandhagen Gets Flying Knee Knockout | Fight Night: Overeem vs Volkov
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Fight of the Night: Beneil Dariush vs Diego Ferreira

The lightweight division continues to deliver. Both Beneil Dariush and Diego Ferreira entered their UFC Vegas 18 showdown with lengthy win streaks and hopes to make a serious push to the top of the division. The three-round bout was tightly contested, much like their first showdown back in 2014. Dariush's relentless pace forced Ferreira to make adjustments, with both talented ground technicians having moments in entertaining scrambles. Ferreira's strong third round nearly helped him steal a decision, but in the end, it was the pressure of Dariush and his accurate striking that earned him the victory over the Brazilian. 

Performance of the Night: Alexander Volkov

Alexander Volkov is back in a big way. Since his disappointing loss to Curtis Blaydes, "Drago" has been on a mission, taking care of Walt Harris and Alistair Overeem in back to back knockout victories. Volkov's power was evident, as the Russian battered Overeem with pin-point strikes until the legendary heavyweight couldn't take any more damage. The win puts Volkov in a perfect spot heading into the rest of 2021. He gets to sit back and watch Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou duke it out for the second time and see who emerges from Blaydes vs Derrick Lewis.

RELATED: Ode' Osbourne's 26 Second KO Win | Danilo Marques' Submission On Mike Rodriguez | Cory Sandhagen Post-Fight Interview | Alexander Volkov Post-Fight Interview | Beneil Dariush Post-Fight Interview

Performance of the Night: Cory Sandhagen

Second-ranked bantamweight Cory Sandhagen made an astonishing statement with his Performance of the Night knockout victory over former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. Sandhagen scored the second-quickest flying knee knockout in UFC history, stopping the fight just 28 seconds into the first round, and adding a second viral knockout to his highlight reel. With the bantamweight title on the line at UFC 259 between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling, Sandhagen made it clear with his words and performance that he believes he deserves the next shot at the belt.

UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor 2

January 23, 2021 | Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island, UAE

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UFC 257: Dustin Poirier Octagon Interview
UFC 257: Dustin Poirier Octagon Interview
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Performance of the Night: Dustin Poirier

The “Diamond” rose to the occasion in the rematch, weathering a strong first round from Conor McGregor to score a second-round knockout win in Abu Dhabi.

After a measured first round that included a successful takedown, Poirier committed to kicking McGregor’s lead leg, and that strategy quickly paid dividends. Poirier ate McGregor’s counter shots well and waited for his moment to take the center. Once Poirier pushed McGregor to the fence, he poured on the pressure and unleashed a flurry of hooks. Eventually, enough connected and McGregor fell, evening the series at one win a piece and setting Poirier on the fast track to another title shot.

Performance of the Night: Michael Chandler

Chandler announced himself as the real deal and the newest lightweight contender with an emphatic knockout win over Dan Hooker.

The fight started with Chandler implementing pressure right away, and Hooker constantly circled to his right. Soon enough, Chandler leapt in with a right straight to the body followed by a cracking left hook up top that put Hooker to the mat. Chandler followed with a flurry of ground-and-pound and earned the first-round stoppage.

Performance of the Night: Makhmud Muradov

Muradov started quick against Andrew Sanchez in the first round, connecting with calf kicks and sharp punching combinations. As Sanchez turned up the aggression in the second and third round, Muradov tempered the fire and took advantage of the more drastic openings. Eventually, Muradov connected with a right hand to stagger his foe and finished by landing several unanswered strikes to earn the stoppage in the final round.

Performance of the Night: Marina Rodriguez

While plenty of hype surrounded Amanda Ribas, Marina Rodriguez reminded everyone why she was the higher ranked Brazilian in the fight.

After the first round in which Ribas controlled things well with her grappling. Rodriguez started quickly. Her combinations were decisive and crisp, and a right hand found its home on Ribas’ chin. The up-and-comer wobbled to the floor, and it appeared Rodriguez earned the stoppage with her follow-up strikes. As Rodriguez separated, referee Herb Dean waved the fight on, and Rodriguez pounced on Ribas again and landed two right hands that punctuated the win less than a minute into the second round.

UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs Magny

January 20, 2021 | Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island, UAE

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UFC Fight Island 8: Umar Nurmagomedov Def Morozov By Submission In His Debut
UFC Fight Island 8: Umar Nurmagomedov Def Morozov By Submission In His Debut
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Fight of the Night: Mike Davis vs Mason Jones

A pair of lightweight prospects duked it out over a tough three rounds, with Mike Davis besting UFC debutant Mason Jones via unanimous decision. 

Davis got right to work with his hands, showing quick, fluid boxing and mixing in shots to the body as well. He also initiated the first grappling exchange and scored the takedown, but Jones got back to his feet and started to find his rhythm on the feet. All three rounds were relatively back-and-forth, and the two up-and-comers traded flurries of punches. Davis mixed in more grappling, but Jones resisted well and wore on Davis as the fight went on. Overall, Davis landed the more significant strikes throughout the night and earned the tough-fought win.

Performance of the Night: Umar Nurmagomedov

The long-awaited debut of Umar Nurmagomedov delivered as the bantamweight earned a submission win over Sergey Morozov. 

RELATED: Umar Nurmagomedov Post-Fight InterviewWarlley Alves Octagon Interview | Chiesa vs Magny Final Results

Nurmagomedov landed kicks early and evaded the counter shots, and midway through the round, Nurmagomedov shot for the takedown and caused a scramble. The pace continued into the second round with Nurmagomedov rocked Morozov with a head kick, and a couple minutes later, he dipped under a punch to take Morozov’s back. Patient work led to a rear naked choke finish and a loud announcement of his presence in the division.

Performance of the Night: Warlley Alves

Alves stymied the momentum of Mounir Lazzez in the co-main event, putting the pressure on the prospect early. He landed with a fast low kick, a combination of punches and put Lazzez into the clinch. After scoring a few elbows and going for a takedown, Alves hit Lazzez with a body kick that stunned Lazzez and followed with two more to end the fight.

UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Kattar

January 16, 2021 | Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island, UAE

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Max Holloway kicks Calvin Kattar in a featherweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 17, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Performance of the Night: Li Jingliang

Most of the narrative around Li Jingliang’s fight with Santiago Ponzinibbio circulated around the latter’s return, but in the end, “The Leech” came away with his hand raised.

As Ponzinibbio probed in hopes of quickly finding his timing, Li took advantage of the countering opportunities provided from Ponzinibbio’s errant strikes. In one such exchange, Li slipped a shot and came over the top with a left hand to the chin that immediately dropped Ponzinibbio and ended the bout.

“I really expected to either knock him out in the first round or Santiago knocking me out because he is such a powerful fighter,” he said. “I would’ve actually preferred to go all three rounds to show off more of my skillset, but it feels great

“Santiago is such an aggressive, intense fighter and we were prepared for him. The coach told me as soon as the fight began to match his level of intensity, to not back down.”

Performance of the Night: Alessio Di Chirico

Coming off a three-fight skid, Alessio Di Chirico bounced back in a big way, knocking out Joaquin Buckley in the first round via head kick.

Di Chirico seemed locked in early, managing distance as Buckley weaved in with power shots. About two minutes into the fight, Di Chirico timed one of Buckley’s dips and caught him with a right head kick to the temple. It was an important performance for the Italian middleweight, who will surely look to follow up on his big performance soon.

Fight of the Night: Max Holloway vs Calvin Kattar

In Max Holloway’s first non-title fight in more than four years, the former featherweight king dismantled an incredibly game Calvin Kattar in the first main event of 2021, setting the bar high for any fights that may come to challenge its standard.

Holloway looked as sharp as ever right from the jump, connecting with extended flurries that left Kattar scrambling against the fence and looking to throw one-shot bombs. “Blessed” fired rapid-fire straight punches, leaving few windows for Kattar to respond. The Massachusetts-native  took his chances as they came, but Holloway mixed up his rhythm well as the fight progressed into the second round. Holloway also found plenty of success with elbows that opened a big cut on Kattar’s forehead.

The fight seemed like it was going to come to an end at several points, but Kattar got his shots in as well, particularly a heavy uppercut in the third round that paused the onslaught of pressure from Holloway. It was here where Holloway committed to body shots, digging hooks into Kattar’s ribs and working his way up from there to win another lopsided round.

The fourth and fifth rounds were all Holloway, featuring several moments where the fight seemed incredibly close to a stoppage. Kattar showed immense toughness, though, firing heavy shots when it seemed like he was melting against the cage. In the end, Holloway displayed the form that shot him up into the G.O.A.T. conversation and reminded everybody that the 29-year-old is very much still in play to recapture his belt. The final scorecards were 50-43, 50-43 and 50-42 – a true reflection of the dominant form Holloway showed.