The Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia, was the home to a night of what, on paper, was an underwhelming series of fights. As is often the case, the fights actually turned out to be pretty good--despite the abundance of decisions--though the night was marred by a series of officiating problems. In the end, we saw 2 (T)KOs, 1 submission and 10 decisions, including three splits. Here’s the list of athletes walking away $50,000 richer, and one who will be walking away $100,000 richer.
Performances of the Night: Robert Whittaker and Tyson Pedro
Robert Whittaker put on what might be the best four-minute fight in recent memory, capping it off by felling Brunson with a head kick. He not only won performance of the night, but also fight of the night, and fully deserved his $100,000 in bonus money.
Tyson Pedro came back from being knocked down early to dominate Khalil Rountree on the ground. Even though Rountree’s mom apparently wasn’t in attendance, he still couldn’t stop Tyson Pedro from imposing his will and locking in the rear naked choke at the 4:12 mark of the very first round.
Fight of the Night: Robert Whittaker vs. Derek Brunson
The main event of the night wasn’t only fight of the night, it was one of the most action-packed bouts of the year. It’s rare for a one round fight to get a performance bonus, but these guys packed more drama into 4 minutes than HBO does in an entire Game of Thrones season.
Derek Brunson hits, and fights, like a truck. Over and over again he would charge chin-first at Whittaker, but he hit so damn hard that Whittaker couldn’t take advantage of it. Rocked, wobbled and desperately defending, Whittaker alternated between covering up and just trying to get out of the way of the minotaur charging at him constantly.
Then, Whittaker’s head started to clear. Brunson’s wild punches started being deflected by his elbows. The parrying began to work, and now he was ready to hit that chin, and hit it he did. Over and over again, with rights, lefts, hooks and straights, even an attempt at an uppercut. None of it was enough to keep the bull down, but a right head kick was. Even then, Brunson was still in the realm of the conscious, but that just allowed Whittaker to land a dozen hard blows on the ground before the ref finally waved the bout off. 100 G’s, baby!