Fabricio Werdum, Roy Nelson, Dustin Poirier, and Stephen Thompson all picked up $65,000 bonuses for their efforts at UFC 143 on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Werdum and Nelson earned “Fight of the Night” honors, Dustin Poirier secured the “Submission of the Night,” and Stephen Thompson scored the “Knockout of the Night.”
Werdum and Nelson battled for three rounds in a fight that, while fairly one-sided, always seemed a strike away from ending. Werdum battered Nelson early and often in the first round with beautiful knees from the Thai clinch. After it became apparent that Werdum was not going get a first round KO, the Brazilian grappling wizard slowed down the pace but still utilized his range and larger arsenal to defeat a very tough Nelson. A major factor in this fight was that Nelson stopped looking for the exchanges and began loading up for the big knockout shot that Werdum was able to avoid each time.
Dustin Poirier was surprised by UFC newcomer Max Holloway’s willingness to attack from the start of the fight, but Poirier quickly adjusted with a fantastic display of grappling as he transitioned from an armbar to a triangle, a mounted triangle, and finally a triangle armbar that forced the Holloway to tap before having his arm broken.
Stephen Thompson had a spectacular UFC debut in the first fight on the card as he knocked out fellow newcomer Dan Stittgen. The karate and kickboxing champion picked apart Stittgen before putting him away with a powerful head kick that his opponent never saw coming. Thompson improved to 6-0 in his young MMA career with the win.
UFC 143 drew 10,040 fans to the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas for a live gate of $2.3 million.
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Pictured: Fabricio Werdum via UFC.com