There was no Fight of the Night awarded once again, but the UFC found four performances worthy of 50Gs at UFC Utica.
UFC Fight Night 131 in Utica, New York went down Friday, and for the second event in a row, the UFC did not award a Fight of the Night bonus. As with last weekend’s UFC Liverpool, the promotion instead opted to hand out four Performance of the Night bonuses. In this particular instance, however, the move seems justified. A stretch of five straight decisions, including all four televised prelims, dragged, with no fight really standing out above any other.
Once the main card hit, however, the action picked up. Sam Alvey had a near-finish of Gian Villante in the final decision of the night. Then, Julio Arce choked Daniel Teymur to pick up the win in their featherweight contest. He’d call for a bonus — but wouldn’t get it. Instead, bonuses went to Nathaniel Wood, Ben Saunders, Gregor Gillespie, and Marlon Moraes. All but Wood fought on UFC Utica’s main card.
For Wood, the bonus holds extra meaning, given the event was his UFC debut. ‘The Prospect’ submitted veteran Johnny Eduardo in a come-from-behind D’Arce choke win. In the top-heavy bantamweight division, that should get people excited.
So should the performance of headliner Marlon Moraes. Facing Jimmie Rivera, who had been on a twenty fight win streak, he took just thirty-three seconds to land a switch kick to the head and put an end to Rivera’s night, and the event. The former WSOF champ improves to 21-5-1 with the win, and is nearly a lock as the next title contender at 135lbs.
🎶 Baby I got your money, don't you worry 🎶@MMarlonMoraes | @Gregor_The_Gift | @BenSaundersMMA | @TheProspectMMA
💰 50Gs 💰 pic.twitter.com/p7YHuVm29b
— UFC (@ufc) June 2, 2018
The remaining Performance of the Night bonuses went to Gregor Gillespie, for his submission of Vinc Pichel, and Ben Saunders, who set up the finish of Jake Ellenberger with a thunderous knee in the clinch.
All four fighters will pick up an additional $50,000 for their performances.