The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale proved to be one of the most exciting TUF cards in years. While many were deserving, four fighters including the headliners took home the bonuses.
The Ultimate Fighter 26 finale card was one of the best TUF finales in recent memory. Brimming with finishes from the start, the event saw three arm-bar finishes on the prelims alone. The first six bouts ended early, and seven of eleven fights total saw finishes. With that in mind, dishing out the TUF 26 Finale bonuses was surely no easy task. In the end, headliners Nicco Montano and Roxanne Modafferi were among the winners.
Capturing the Fight of the Night bonus, Modafferi and newly crowned champ Montano fought in a bloody five round war that saw each land serious damage on the other. Montano slowly crept ahead in the significant strikes department as the bout progressed; ‘The Happy Warrior’ came closest, perhaps, to finishing the fight with a late arm-bar attempt. It wasn’t to be, however, as Montano pulled free and went on to claim a unanimous decision. With that, Nicco Montano put herself in the history books as the UFC’s first ever women’s flyweight champion.
There was no shortage of competition for Fight of the Night, either. Barb Honchak and Lauren Murphy fought to a split decision in a spirited, back and forth war. Sean O’Malley and Terrion Ware then upped the ante, putting on a stellar performance brimming with creative striking and close calls in the co-main event.
Still, Montano and Modafferi were too good not to get the nod.
Performance Bonuses were no easy pick either, but in the end, the UFC went with two finishes that made lasting impressions. Gerald Meerschaert quite simply floored Eric Spicely with a body kick that stunned the crowed in attendance. Since body kick finishes are rare, its selection as a Performance of the Night isn’t that surprising, despite some solid finishes in the prelims.
Even less surprising, however, was the selection of Brett Johns for the other Performance of the Night bonus. Just thirty seconds into his fight with former title challenger Joe Soto, he had his opponent tapping out to a rarely seen calf slicer. The submission was just the second calf slicer finish ever witnessed in the UFC. The Welsh fighter improved his UFC record to 3-0 with the win.
All four fighters will receive $50,000 for their bonus winning efforts.