On Sunday night, the UFC debuted on ESPN with the exciting UFC Phoenix card.
The card was topped by a dynamite heavyweight showdown between Francis Ngannou and Cain Velasquez, but the fight that stole the show was a welterweight main card fight between Vicente Luque and Bryan Barberena. The two went back and forth the entire fight, trading heavy artillery. The fight had the most significant strikes in a three-round UFC welterweight fight.
The scrap had the entire crowd on their feet and is already the front runner for Fight of the Year honors. So it should come as no surprise that both men took home $50,000 Fight of the Night honors.
Meanwhile, the UFC Phoenix Performance of the Night bonuses went to Kron Gracie and Luke Sanders, who also pocketed an extra $50,000 each.
Gracie was making his highly-anticipated UFC debut, taking on Alex Caceres. Gracie ended up getting a quick takedown on Caceres, took his back and snuck in a rear-naked choke for the tap. Gracie is now 5-0 overall, and is the first member of the iconic family to win in the UFC since 1994.
Sanders got the other performance bonus for his knockout of former champ Renan Barao. Sanders said he was in a must-win situation after losing to Rani Yahya in his last fight. After losing the first round to Barao, his corner gave him great advice to implement the jab and left hand.
Barao was open to the shot and Sanders took full advantage of it and dropped the former champion before finishing him on the ground. Sanders improved to 13-3 while Barao dropped to 34-8 and one no-contest. He’s lost his last four fights.
Although Sanders and Gracie’s bonuses were well deserved, Emily Whitmire had to be close to getting a bonus. She competed in the first fight of the night and submitted Aleksandra Albu in just 61 seconds. It was the fastest submission win in UFC strawweight history.
Do you agree with the bonuses?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 2/18/2019.