Justin Gaethje has made a habit of cashing extra checks at his UFC fights. “The Highlight,” through his first six fights in the promotion, had won seven post-fight bonuses. Following UFC 249, and his seventh appearance, he now holds nine Performance and Fight of the Night awards.
That’s an impressive haul. But then, impressive is the perfect word to describe Gaethje’s victory against Tony Ferguson on Saturday. Previously more of a brawler, Gaethje continued to show his evolution as a fighter. He was calm under fire. More importantly, he was calm even while in the driver’s seat. Restrained when he needed to be. Cautious, but nearly always on the attack.
His leg kicks landed. Punches landed. Elbows landed. Ferguson, known for taking an immeasurable amount of damage at the best of times, was worn down. Bloodied. Never quit, as Gaethje would later attest to. But by the time referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop the fight in the fifth and final round, with Ferguson still on his feet, he was doing the man a favor.
Statement made. Justin Gaethje will be next for lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. In the meantime, he earned a Performance of the Night bonus, and shares Fight of the Night with Ferguson.
The other Performance of the Night bonus at UFC 249 went to Francis Ngannou, who starched Jairzinho “Bigi Boi” Rozenstruik just twenty seconds into their heavyweight tilt.
A huge win for Ngannou, but one that leaves him in limbo, as Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier 3 still doesn’t have a date.
Fighters at UFC 249 take home an extra $50,000 per bonus. Attendance at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida was 0, for a gate of $0 USD, for obvious reasons.