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UFC 221 post-fight bonuses: Formiga sleeps Nguyen in POTN victory

Check out our breakdown of the post-fight bonuses from UFC 221: Romero vs. Rockhold in Perth, Australia.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Formiga vs Sasaki Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports

The Perth Arena in Perth, Australia was home to a solid night of fights. The card saw four (T)KOs, two submissions and six decisions, including a split-decision. The event wasn’t bad considering the card looked ready to collapse just 24 hours earlier when Yoel Romero missed weight for his main event bout against Luke Rockhold.

The main event and co-main event were both more than acceptable, with Curtis Blaydes surviving some huge bombs from Mark Hunt early to grapple his way to a victory, and Yoel Romero walking through Luke Rockhold’s jabs to smash him with huge punches for over 10 minutes before an uppercut on a seated Rockhold finally put his lights out.

Performances of the Night: Jussier Formiga, Israel Adesanya

Ben Nguyen was like a bullet shot from a pistol in the opening minutes of the first round, throwing wild punches and pinning Jussier Formiga to the cage. Formiga reversed it, though, and while Nguyen tried to stay competitive, it became clear that the Juice was eager to put in a showcase performance, and that’s exactly what he did. Everything Nguyen threw was blocked and/or countered and once the fight hit the mat, it was like watching a python crush its prey (thanks for the vivid imagery Luke Thomas).

By the time round three rolled around, Formiga was putting on an exceptionally dominant display. Nguyen managed to fire off a good right hand to Formiga’s dome and then another short right followed that, but Jussier had toyed with his food long enough. He launched a gargantuan spinning backfist that dropped Nguyen right on his keister, jumped on his back, sunk the hooks in and gave him a formal introduction to the Sandman via rear-naked choke. It was beautiful and it earned the Brazilian $50K extra smackeroos.

Israel Adesanya came into tonight’s event with a ton of hype among the hardcore fans. His phenomenal striking, quick wit and extensive combat sports record had people sitting up and paying attention. According to Wikipedia, the Nigerian is 5-1 in boxing, 65-5-2 in kickboxing, and was 11-0 in MMA before his victory tonight.

The first round saw Rob Wilkinson do everything he could to prevent Adesanya from being able to use any of his vaunted striking skills, with the Australian attempting an incredible 10 takedowns in the first five minutes, but completing only two.

Adesanya made the necessary adjustments between rounds and punished Wilkinson in the clinch with heavy knees. Israel backed Wilkinson against the cage and treated him like a human heavy bag, picking his strikes out and landing them with pinpoint precision. Adesanya alternated between lighting up Wilkinson’s ribs with punches and landing knees to the face until Wilkinson’s will gave out and he collapsed to the mat, giving Adesanya the TKO victory and a cool 50 Gs bonus money on his UFC debut.

Fight of the Night: Jake Matthews vs. Li Jingliang

The fight between Jake Matthews and Li Jingliang saw one of the most blatant eye gouges in UFC history. As Matthews cranked on a guillotine choke, Jingliang put both hands on Jake’s face and dug his fingers in, hard. Referee Mark Simpson watched it happen and was slow to respond. Despite the flagrant and brutal nature of the violation, the referee didn’t even take a point.

Outside the eye gouging incident, the fight delivered some action, albeit one-sided action. Matthews won the fight 29-28, 30-26 and 30-26 on the judges’ scorecards, and the latter two scores were a fair reflection of the contest. Matthews was too strong in the clinch, more technical on the mat, and landed the harder blows en route to his comfortable victory. Jake Matthews earned $50,000 towards the cost of getting his eyes checked, and Li Jingliang also earned $50,000 because there’s no justice in the world.

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