UFC officials revealed the recipients of the coveted performance-based bonuses following Saturday’s UFC 266 event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
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 pounds. 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).
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