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The UFC stuck with its traditional model of handing out four $50,000 post-fight bonuses at Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 22 event, and the night’s headliners were rewarded for their work with “Fight of the Night” honors.
However the two “Performance of the Night” awards went to fighters a little further down on the card, with both of those recipients coming from the prelims.
UFC officials announced the winners after the card. Check out the post-fight bonus winners below from Saturday’s ESPN-broadcast event from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Performance of the Night: Tony Gravely
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 17: (L-R) Tony Gravely and Anthony Birchak trade strikes in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 17, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
The night's very first fight saw [autotag]Tony Gravely[/autotag] (21-6 MMA, 2-1 UFC) earn an impressive second-round TKO over an always-durable Anthony Birchak (15-8 MMA, 2-4 UFC). Gravely used slick striking and aggressive groundwork to batter Birchak early, nearly scoring a finish in the opening round. While Birchak just managed to stay in the fight in the first five minutes, he wouldn't be as lucky in the second, when he was dropped with a crisp left hook and finished off with hammerfists that called an end to the fight at the 1:31 mark of the frame. Gravely secured his second consecutive UFC win with the effort, as well as a "Performance of the Night" bonus.
Performance of the Night: Gerald Meerschaert
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 17: (R-L) Gerald Meerschaert secures a guillotine choke submission against Bartosz Fabinski of Poland in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 17, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
After suffering through back-to-back first-round losses, Gerald Meerschaert (32-14 MMA, 7-6 UFC) bounced back in a big way, scoring a first-round stoppage victory over Bartosz Fabinski (15-5 MMA, 3-3 UFC). An aggressive Fabinski looked to shoot inside early and take the action to the canvas, but Meerschaert countered with a guillotine choke. While his initial hold wasn't in place, Meerschaert made the necessary adjustments and maintained his squeeze, putting Fabinski to sleep at the 2:00 mark of the first round. The result snapped Meerschaert's skid and secured him a "Performance of the Night" award.
Fight of the Night: Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 17: Robert Whittaker of Australia reacts after his victory over Kelvin Gastelum in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 17, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
The lion's share of attention heading into Saturday's event was focused squarely on headliners [autotag]Robert Whittaker[/autotag] (23-5 MMA, 14-3 UFC) vs. [autotag]Kelvin Gastelum[/autotag] (17-7 MMA, 11-7 UFC), and the two middleweight standouts showed why from the start. A relentless pace from both men over the course of 25 minutes resulted in an action-packed matchup in which both men were tested. Whittaker was able to answer every question, though, taking all five rounds of the matchup and winning a unanimous decision with scores of 50-45 across the board. The win secured both men an extra paycheck, and it very well may have earned Whittaker an opportunity to regain the UFC middleweight title he once held. [vertical-gallery id=604020] [vertical-gallery id=604018]