The UFC handed out a Texas-sized amount of post-fight bonuses Saturday – one for every finish at the 12-bout event, one of which also was Fight of the Night.
After UFC on ESPN 52, 10 fighters picked up an extra $50,000 for their performances in Austin. Check out the winners below.
Performance of the Night: Jared Gooden
Jared Gooden (23-9 MMA, 2-4 UFC) struggled big time in the first round against Wellington Turman (18-8 MMA, 3-6 UFC), who looked arguably as good as he’s ever looked in the striking department. But in the second, Gooden caught Turman with a left hand that stumbled him during a brief firefight. He took advantage when he saw Turman wobble. He took him down, quickly jumped to mount, started pounding with punches and elbows, and forced Turman to give his back. Gooden took it and it only took a few seconds to force the tap to a rear-naked choke. The bonus was Gooden’s first in the UFC and came just three days before his 30th birthday.
Performance of the Night: Drakkar Klose
There had only been about a dozen slam knockout finishes in UFC history until Drakkar Klose (14-2-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC) came along and bounced Joe Solecki’s (13-4 MMA, 5-2 UFC) head off the canvas in a way that seldom has been seen before. Klose was trying to free himself, so slammed Solecki, and on his way down, Solecki turned his head in a way that made his temple hit the mat. He was out instantly.
Performance of the Night: Cody Brundage
As if one slam KO wasn’t enough, Cody Brundage (10-5 MMA, 4-4 UFC) couldn’t quite top Klose’s from a few minutes prior, but he still got a knockout after he slammed Zach Reese (6-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) to the canvas, and a quick couple punches later had his second straight win, his second UFC bonus, and the second straight slam KO of the night – an absurd statistic given how few have happened in the UFC’s 30-year history. To make it even more meaningful, Brundage got the knockout win just three days after the death of his grandfather left him with a heavy heart during fight week.
Performance of the Night: Miesha Tate
Miesha Tate (21-9 MMA, 7-6 UFC) had been out for more than a year, but looked like the championship-caliber fighter who won the women’s bantamweight title when she dominated Julia Avila (9-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) until she was able to force a third-round submission. Tate returned to the weight class after a flyweight attempt and got her fifth UFC bonus.
Fight of the Night: Dustin Stoltzfus
Dustin Stoltzfus (15-5 MMA, 2-4 UFC) was the biggest underdog on the card, but got his first UFC finish with a second-round submission of Punahele Soriano (9-4 MMA, 3-4 UFC). He bounced back from a 19-second knockout loss 15 months prior.
Fight of the Night: Sean Brady
Sean Brady (16-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) looked better than ever and dominated ex-middleweight and “Ultimate Fighter” winner Kelvin Gastelum (18-9 MMA, 12-9 UFC) until he was able to force a tap to a kimura. The bout was Gastelum’s return to 170 pounds, but Brady never let him get started.
Fight of the Night: Jalin Turner
Jalin Turner (14-7 MMA, 7-4 UFC) took the lightweight co-main event against Bobby Green (31-15-1 MMA, 12-10-1 UFC) on less than two weeks’ notice when Dan Hooker dropped out. He admittedly struggled to make weight and reportedly seemed nearly indifferent about fight week. Then he turned out Green’s lights with a massive knockout that went on longer than it needed to, at least as far as Green likely was concerned.
Performance of the Night: Arman Tsarukyan
Arman Tsarukyan (21-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) established himself as a major lightweight title contender when he knocked out Beneil Dariush (22-6-1 MMA, 16-6-1 UFC) just 64 seconds into the main event. The bonus was his fifth in the UFC.
Fight of the Night: Rodolfo Bellato vs. Ihor Potieria
Rodolfo Bellato (12-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) pulled off an all-time great comeback to finish Ihor Potieria (20-5 MMA, 1-3 UFC) with a second-round TKO in his UFC debut. Potieria was mostly on fire in the first round. But in the second, he appeared to be gassed out, and Bellato started his rally and eventually finished Potieria on the canvas after dozens of punches.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 52.