New Champs, Poirier vs. Chandler Collect Bonuses at UFC 281

Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler, UFC 281
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 12: Michael Chandler battles Dustin Poirier during the UFC 281 event at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

It was singled out as a bonus-worthy, Fight of the Year-potential contest ahead of UFC 281, and Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler lived up to expectations.

That includes snagging Fight of the Night honors at Saturday’s Pay-Per-View card in Madison Square Garden. The three-round lightweight war was a back-and-forth affair, with both men having opportunities to finish the other. By the third, it seemed like Chandler might just come away with a decision, only for Poirier to turn the tables, take the back, and lock up a rear-naked choke.

Chandler tapped moments later; Poirier got back in the win column, bouncing back from his title fight loss to Charles Oliveira late last year.

Performance of the Night bonuses went to a pair of new champs in Weili Zhang and Dustin Poirier. Zhang dazzled by dominating Carla Esparza on the ground, submitting the American to reclaim strawweight gold. In doing to, China’s Zhang became the third straight fighter to become a two-time champ in the women’s 115lb division, after Rose Namajunas and Esparza herself.

The rematch in the main event, meanwhile, saw Alex Pereira once again get the better of Israel Adesanya. After beating “The Last Stylebender” in kickboxing twice, Pereira was down heading into the fifth round in Saturday’s cross-sport trilogy fight. He turned up the heat when it mattered, battering Adesanya and securing a TKO win to dethrone a dominant middleweight champion.

All four fighters will pocket an extra $50,000 for their efforts at UFC 281 in New York, NY.


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