The Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona was home to a punishing night of fights, with four (T)KOs, one submission, and six decisions, including two split decisions. Here’s our breakdown of the bonus winning performances.
Performances of the Night: Oleksiy Oliynyk, Yair Rodriguez
Oleksiy Oliynyk pulled off what Jon Anik called the first Ezekiel choke in UFC history. The Ukrainian went from seemingly being in trouble under Viktor Pesta’s mount, to pulling off a choke rarely seen outside of the BJJ mats. Even there, the Ezekiel choke is more commonly seen from the top position, so pulling it off from under your opponent’s mount is a hell of a way to debut the choke in the UFC. Oliynyk gets $50,000 to go along with the props from grapplers everywhere.
Yair Rodriguez came into this fight against former UFC Lightweight and Welterweight champion B.J. Penn as the largest favorite on the card. Twenty head kicks, ten body shots, six minutes and one knockdown later, he proved the bookmakers right. Round one saw Rodriguez back Penn up at will, then punish him over and over with huge kicks. Round two opened with a front kick to the face that stunned Penn, and the follow up punch knocked the Hawaiian down. Rodriguez followed up with a hellacious 372-punch ground and pound combo that led to John McCarthy stepping in to protect the former champion from further damage.
Fight of the Night: Frankie Saenz vs. Augusto Mendes
Frankie Saenz and Augusto Mendes put on a frantic back-and-forth battle that started at 100 mph and never slowed down. Both guys came out looking to prove they are the next big thing in the Bantamweight division, and most viewers seemed to think Mendes had done enough to get the nod. In the end the judges agreed. Saenz has 50,000 reasons not to be too disheartened by the loss, though, and for Mendes the FOTN bonus check will be icing on the cake.