These "Performance of the Night" bonuses are not sitting well with me.
Stipe Miocic did not get a "Performance of the Night" bonus. That 35-second flattening of Fabio Maldonado was a Knockout of the Night, at least in this guy's book.
That's why we're doing the post-fight bonuses for the entire month. The old way. The real way. The only way. These are the best fight, knockout and submission of the month. Sometimes, they are plural. Please enjoy.
Fight of the Month
Matt Brown vs. Erick Silva
At UFC Fight Night 40, Matt Brown went full berserker in front of his hometown Ohio crowd. After dropping early from a body shot, Brown rallied, you might say. A barrage of punches, knees and kicks that would have dropped a horse rained down on Silva. Silva's heavy chin and simple desire to fight outshone the weaknesses inherent in a one-sided beating.
At the end of the night, a star was born, and Silva was taken out on a stretcher (he ended up being OK). It took two to make it all happen, and these men danced one hell of a tango.
Knockout of the Month
T.J. Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao
UFC 173 hosted the main event that launched a thousand Sunday morning quarterbacks. Before the fight, everyone loved Barao. He was the pound-for-pound best in the world some said (including one Dana White). He was going to truck young Dillashaw, people confidently asserted.
But then Dillashaw spent four rounds and change whomping on Barao, beating the champ to the punch time and time again. A big head kick and some punches finished it in the final frame, and we had a convincing new titleholder.
Of course, all those who weren't on record before certainly wanted to be now. Funny how Dillashaw fans came running out the woodwork, so much more vocal after than before the deed. But a dominating, belt-winning performance will do that.
Submission of the Month
Gegard Mousasi vs. Mark Munoz
The main event of UFC Fight Night 41 may go down as the fight where Mousasi put it all together in the UFC. After a couple of false starts in his Octagon tenure, Mousasi looked amazing against Munoz, outgrappling the wrestling standout to finish with a rear-naked choke. Mousasi made it look easy, which is hard against such a good wrestler.
Submission of the Month 2
Niklas Backstrom vs. Tom Niinimaki
Deep on the main card, hardcore MMA fans found and fell in love with Backstrom, a crazy-eyed 24-year-old making his UFC debut. He won his fight over Niinimaki by stopping a takedown, wrapping his arm around Niinimaki's neck and cinching a bulldog choke, which eventually became a fight-ending modified rear-naked choke thing.
Backstrom was overcome with emotion in his post-fight interview. The dude is intense. It will be interesting to see what kind of opponent he gets next.