UFC 144 took place Saturday night at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The UFC announced the bonuses for UFC 144 at the post-fight press conference with “fight of the night” going to new UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson, “knockout of the night” going to Anthony Pettis, and “submission of the night” going to Vaughn Lee.
All earned $65,000 bonuses for their efforts.
“Fight of the Night” earned in early “Fight of the Year” candidate
Lightweight champion Ben Henderson and Frankie Edgar battled in an instant classic that matched Edgar’s volume of strikes against the power of Henderson’s. Edgar out-landed Henderson and secured more takedowns, but Henderson landed the most damaging shots of the fight consistently.
The fight seemed to hinge on Henderson’s ability to keep fighting in traditionally defensive positions, that ability led to Henderson being able to steal some incredibly close rounds that might have otherwise gone to the now former champion Edgar.
“Showtime” kicks off the show
Before this fight, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis was widely known for a kick that did not end up in a knockout, well tonight he added another highlight kick to his reel and this time it was “lights out” for Joe Lauzon.
Pettis keyed on Lauzon’s over-commitment to his leg kicks by using the same footwork to instead fire a head kick. The result was a quick knockout and Pettis netting “knockout of the night”
Ironically, it originally appeared like the first fight on the undercard would be a shoe-in for the bonus as Issei Tamura scored a brutal one-punch knockout of Tiequan Zhang but Pettis sealed the bonus on the first fight of the PPV.
Lee wins “submission of the night” with historic submission
Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto had never been submitted in a career that has seen him victorious against renowned grapplers like Rani Yahya, Bibiano Fernandes, Caol Uno, Royler Gracie, and Jeff Curran just to name a few. That all changed Saturday after Vaughn Lee rocked the Japanese wrestler with a power shot that forced “Kid” to take a shot and end up in a deep triangle. While Yamamoto was able to fight out of the triangle, Lee expertly transitioned into an armbar to force Yamamoto to tap.
So while it may have been the only submission on the card, Lee certainly earned the $65,000 for “submission of the night.”
Pictured: Anthony Pettis via UFC.com