UFC Live 4: Kongo vs. Barry made for one of the more exciting free events the organization has managed to put together. With several upsets and fantastic finishes, the UFC had plenty of reasons to happily dole out $50,000 bonuses for Fight of the Night, Knockout of the Night and Submission of the Night.
Matt Brown, Michael Johnson and Tyson Griffin were able to pick up much-needed wins, while a fourth straight loss for Joe Stevenson will probably result in the former No. 1 contender being cut.
The event included a stunning upset when Charlie Brenneman was able to defeat the up-and-coming Rick Story and slick knockout of Christian Morecraft by Matt Mitrione. Despite the quality of these fights, none of the fighters were able to get any extra money.
Let's take a look at who was given the cash and why.
Joe Lauzon got yet another bonus, putting an end to Curt Warburton's night in a performance reminiscent of his beating of Gabe Ruediger—this time taking home another $50,000.
Lauzon has won a bonus in each of his last five fights and in seven of his last nine for a total of three Fight of the Night Honors and four Submission of the Night honors.
"J-Lau" came out calmly, stalking Warburton, until he landed a big right hand just 1:24 seconds into the first round that caused his opponent to start backpedaling. Just six seconds later, Lauzon dropped Warburton with a left that marked the beginning of the end.
Lauzon pounced on him, pinning the British fighter's head against the cage in order to land some vicious ground and pound until he was able to isolate an arm for the kimura. While locking the kimura, Lauzon dropped back into the traditional finish, throwing his left leg over Warburton's back in order to prevent him from rolling. He further tightened it by locking his legs, isolating the Brit's head and arm.
After the fight, Lauzon mentioned, "his shoulder did pop really bad. Hopefully it's not awful, but I'm pretty sure it was bad."
Cheick Kongo's Knockout of the Night bonus was not not only given to the best knockout of that particular event, but to, perhaps, the most unbelievable knockout the UFC has ever seen.
Cheick Kongo has long been thought of as a heavyweight gatekeeper—a fairly inconsistent fighter who was just never able to perform against the top guys in the division.
He put together a three fight win streak, finishing Dan Evensen, Mostapha Al Turk, and Antoni Hardonk until losing two fights to Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir. A beatdown of Paul Buentello looked to be getting him back on track, but then he followed that performance with a draw against Travis Browne.
The striking exchange to start the bout was rather technical. Barry shot in for a takedown, but the fight remained standing. Kongo landed several solid leg kicks, but it was Barry who was controlling the Octagon and doing an excellent job of cutting of the cage. It was just 2:14 into the bout when Barry landed a right hand that dropped Kongo. The following barrage of punches seemed to put Kongo out, nearly causing Dan Miragliotta to stop the fight.
Kongo prevailed, however, getting up to his feet before being dropped a second time almost immediately. Barry swarmed him, continuing to land shot after shot to the head of his opponent. Still, Kongo managed to get up again, backing up on wobbly legs. Barry, clearly aware of the damage he had done, walked in with his hands down. Kongo landed a right hook, followed quickly by a right uppercut that put "HD" to sleep.
His Knockout of the Night is, surprisingly, his first bonus in his UFC career which has spanned 14 fights.
Both Nik Lentz and Charles Oliveira are quality lightweights. In fact, it's surprising that this fight is a preliminary fight at all. Lentz is just 26 and Oliveira is just 21, so both of these fighters are likely to have big futures ahead of them.
At 14-1, Oliveira was coming off of the only loss of his career at the hands of contender Jim Miller. It's the first time he's had to rebound from a loss and also the longest layoff he's had in his young career. Although five months doesn't seem long, it is for a fighter who competed 15 times in three years.
Nik Lentz was also on a rather long undefeated streak of his own, going 11-0-2 in his last 13 fights. Despite the run, "The Carny" is still relegated to undercard duties because of his grinding style.
As the fight begun, a very technical grappling exchange broke out after an early takedown from Lentz. Seeing that he couldn't control Oliveira on the ground, the fight went to the feet where Oliveira managed to drop Lentz 2:58 into the first round with a right uppercut and nearly finished the fight. In the ensuing exchanges, both fighters threatened with chokes in an extremely entertaining first round.
The second round is where the controversy took place. After threatening with a guillotine choke, Nick Lentz took a devastating illegal knee that went unnoticed by the referee. The knee allowed Oliveira to finish Lentz shortly after amongst a showering of boos from the crowd.
It is rumored that the fight will be rightfully changed to a no-contest by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission. It would be a shame for "The Carny" to lose his unbeaten streak due to an illegal strike.