Let’s be honest: UFC Vegas 21 was a downright strange, at times wince-inducing card when all was said and done. And those winces were not entirely the result of violent finishes — although the event did not disappoint in that department.
A pair of No Contests due to accidental fouls on the main card marred the night. Especially when the main event ended early in the second round due to a Leon Edwards eye poke. The pained cry of Belal Muhammad, unable to contain his emotion at seeing his shot at glory slip through his fingers for the most unfortunate of reasons, summed the disappointment up nicely. It was a moment of disbelief, just as it was when Eryk Anders landed a clearly illegal knee on a downed Darren Stewart in a fight he was clearly winning.
Shades of Petr Yan a week before, only Anders at least didn’t lose a title for his lack of awareness.
Mix in some bad judging — Manel Kape more than likely deserved the win over Matheus Nicolau, and Cortney Casey had an argument for getting her hand raised over JJ Aldrich — and you were left with a rather iffy night of fights, even as the UFC’s broadcast team labelled the show “terrific.”
Well, not if you’re Belal Muhammad. Luckily, a number of other fights came through in the end. Although there was no Fight of the Night awarded at UFC Vegas 21, honorable mention has to go to Charles Jourdain vs. Marcelo Rojo. Rojo gave almost as good as he got, until he could take no more in the third and final round. Jourdain, refusing to let the fight go to a decision, hunted the finish until the end, finally securing a TKO with roughly half a minute remaining.
Thrilling. But it was four big finishes that picked up the bonus money in the end. Matthew Semelsberger was rewarded for his clean knockout of Jason Witt, while Dan Ige similarly cashed in after starching Gavin Tucker in just 22 seconds. In the co-main event, it didn’t take Ryan Spann long to drop Misha Cirkunov, and several hammerfists thereafter ensured he’d take home an extra $50,000.
Finally, Davey Grant made it two knockouts in a row when he put down Jonathan Martinez. Known for his submissions, Grant’s hands are suddenly starting to earn a reputation.
All four men earned $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses.