UFC Vegas 61 took place in the UFC Apex without any fans or media, but the fighters still put on a show and the event was highlighted by a number of bonus-worthy performances.
The evening ended up getting off to a torrid start with 4-straight finishes, and the winning fighter from each of those bouts took home a Performance of the Night bonus with Fight of the Night going to the card’s featured prelim.
Performance Of The Night Bonuses
Guido Cannetti entered his matchup with Randy Costa as an underdog, but the 42-year-old ended up scoring the upset victory to kick off UFC Vegas 61.
“Ninja” got on Costa’s back and secured a rear-naked choke just a minute into their fight. Despite not having either hook in, Cannetti quickly managed to force a tap from “The Zohan.”
The win was Cannetti’s second-straight stoppage victory, and the 42-year-old also earned a Performance of the Night bonus.
Cannetti’s victory was immediately followed by another first-round finish from Chelsea Chandler, although this one took a few extra minutes.
The debuting Chandler was able to stifle Julija Stoliarenko’s attempts to get things to the mat throughout the first round before ending up in mount with about a minute left. The 28-year-old rained down strikes, and the ref was forced to step in when it was clear that Stoliarenko had no chance of escaping.
In addition to celebrating a successful UFC debut, Chandler also pocketed an extra $50K for her victory.
The third fight of the card maintained the streak of first-round finishes when Brendan Allen took on Krzysztof Jotko in a middleweight bout.
Jotko managed to get an early takedown, it was Allen who ended up in a dominant ground position late in the opening round. With time winding down, “All In” grabbed a rear-naked choke and rolled to his back to make his Polish opponent tap.
The victory was Allen’s third-straight since losing to Chris Curtis in 2021, and the 11th submission of the 26-year-old’s career also won him a Performance of the Night bonus.
Although it didn’t end in the first round, the lightweight contest between Joaquim Silva and Jesse Ronson did manage to cap off 4-straight finishes to open UFC Vegas 61.
After a first round where Silva clearly rocked Ronson on the feet, the Brazilian delivered a perfectly- timed knee late in the second round that dropped “The Body Snatcher” before a few punches on the ground ended the fight.
“Netto BJJ” snapped a 2-fight skid with his finish of Ronson and also walked away with $50K for his impressive performance.
Fight Of The Night
The featured prelim of UFC Vegas 61 saw Daniel Santos and John Castañeda square off in a 140-pound catchweight bout, and it initially looked like things may not make it out of the first round.
It didn’t take very long for things to escalate, as the initial back and forth between the two fighters was suddenly punctuated by a clean left high kick from Castañeda. Santos spent the next few minutes narrowly escaping trouble only to be dropped or rocked again by strikes from Castañeda, but the Brazilian somehow managed to see the end of a brutal first round.
The second round was a stark contrast to the first, as Santos came out clearly looking to take control and avoid the same beating he took early on. “Willycat” had particular success with repeatedly going to Castañeda’s body using a variety of strikes, and the round was clearly going Santos’ way with time winding down.
A right hand from the Brazilian forced Castañeda to cover up as Santos teed off with punches, until a vicious knee cut through the 30-year-old’s guard and ended things with just over 30 seconds left in the round.
Both men showed a tremendous amount of heart in the bout, and they rightfully took home bonuses for participating in the evening’s Fight of the Night.
What are your thoughts on the bonus winners for UFC Vegas 61?