The Ultimate Fighting Championship kicked off December with a bang at UFC Vegas 44.
An action-packed card through-and-through, the ESPN event headlined by Rob Font vs. Jose Aldo delivered and then some. Which resulted in a little extra cash being handed out come bonus time.
Though Dana White was not in attendance, someone at the executive level was clearly impressed — as were fans. Names like Clay Guida, Chris Curtis, and others continued to impress, resulting in four Performance of the Night awards being dished out Saturday, plus the usual Fight of the Night bonus.
The latter went to the women’s strawweight battle between Cheyanne Vlismas and Mallory Martin. Vlismas appeared to have the edge in speed, and out-struck her opponent, but Martin hung in there every step of the way in the preliminary card fight. To add to the drama, the pair had been friendly outside the octagon, and Vlismas later revealed she’d been going through personal problems ahead of the fight, even making reference to hitting rock bottom.
Performance of the Night awards went to the aforementioned Guida and Curtis, plus Jamahal Hill and Rafael Fiziev. For Guida, the money comes after what will likely be in the running for the Comeback of the Year award. Guida seemingly ate knees to the face until opponent Leonardo Santos simply gassed out. He then came storming back in the second round of their lightweight fight to put Santos away via submission.
Curtis, meanwhile, landed his second finish in as many months, putting away Brendan Allen and cashing in as a huge underdog in the process. Fighting up in weight has looked good for Curtis, with the welterweight taking his first two bouts inside the octagon at 185lbs.
Jamahal Hill knocked Jimmy Crute down early in their main card light heavyweight bout on Saturday. It was a second knockdown that sealed the deal, however, with a single follow-up strike barely necessary. Brad Riddell, meanwhile, landed a wheel kick in the co-main event that sent opponent and friend Brad Riddell stumbling, forcing ref Herb Dean to make a well-timed save.
All six bonus-winning fighters will pocket an extra $50,000 USD for their efforts.