UFC Vegas 31 was an afterthought in the wake of Poirier vs. McGregor 3. It took a hit when it lost Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodriguez.
And it absolutely delivered come Fight Night.
With a Fight of the Year contender and a number of strong individual performances, the UFC opened up their checkbook and handed out some extra bonus money following the event.
Four fighters took home Performance of the Night awards following the ESPN card. Those four fighters included Mateusz Gamrot, Miesha Tate, Rodolfo Vieira, and Rodrigo Nascimento.
It was hard to argue against any of those selected. Heavyweight Nascimento opened up the event in a slugfest with France’s Alan Baudot. In the opening round, Nascimento was under fire, with Baudot having the clear edge. But after a low blow halted the action in the second frame, Nascimento appeared to find a second wind. And he definitely found the TKO finish shortly thereafter.
Rodolfo Vieira shook off his first UFC loss thanks to a third-round submission of Dustin Stoltzfus on the main card at UFC Vegas 31. That finish came via a standing rear-naked choke, not that it stayed standing for long. Gamrot, meanwhile, made quick work of Jeremy Stephens, arguably making the biggest statement of the night thanks to a painful looking kimura.
None of those performances appeared to eclipse Miesha Tate in the feel-good category, however. After over four years out of action, and having left a six-figure job with ONE Championship, Tate returned to the cage to secure a lopsided win against the retiring Marion Reneau. The finish came in the third round via TKO, but Tate was already en route to victory.
Fight of the Night honors at UFC Vegas 31 went to Gabriel Benitez and Billy Quarantillo. Billy Q had built up a solid lead in the featherweight fight, which was not short on action. A third-round knockdown by Benitez kept it interesting right up until the end, and the end result was a Fight of the Year calibre affair that won’t soon be forgotten.