Last Saturday is going to stick in the minds of UFC fans for quite a while. The second-to-last pay-per-view of the year, UFC 281 had a lot of build-up behind it. It delivered, and when it came time to deliver the UFC 281 payouts for bonuses, who the recipients would be could have been anyone’s guess. Of the 14 contests on the bill, seven were finished in the first round, and only three of the remaining seven went to decision. When all was said and done, the fighters on the main card really made out, sweeping the fight bonuses. Check out who won big below.
Two champions entered Saturday night looking to defend their belts, and both of them left without their hardware. Ending the reigns of Israel Adesanya and Carla Esparza were Alex Pereira and Zhang Weili respectively, shaking up the UFC rankings. Neither fight was easy and they each could’ve gone the other way, especially the main event that saw Pereira rally late. He was against the ropes in Round 5 and trailing on all three of the officials’ scorecards. One bettor even scored live odds on Pereira at +1500, further illustrating just how far away the fight had gotten.
In her own title bout, Weili was out to reclaim the belt that she lost, and Esparza just happened to be the person in her way. While the battle didn’t last as long as the main event, the co-headliner was nonetheless stunning as Weili secured a rear naked choke in Round 2. Such strong showings from both her and Pereira as challengers saw Dana White reward them with Performance of the Night bonuses in their UFC 281 payouts. That’s a cool $50,000 extra to each fighter, a solid addition to their new UFC belts.
Dustin Poirier is known to put on a show whenever he steps in The Octagon, and much of the deserved credit also goes to opponents who bring it. The featured bout at UFC 281 between Poirier and Michael Chandler was no exception, delivering nearly three rounds of action and damage. “The Diamond” came out hot in the first round, out-striking his foe, but Chandler scored a pair of key takedowns. “Iron” Mike, trailing on the scorecard, flipped the script in the second round, setting up a crucial third and final frame. That’s when Poirier took the fight into his own hands, submitting Chandler by rear naked choke.