Thompson, Poirier, Werdum, Nelson win fight-night awards
LAS VEGAS – Four fighters were handed big bonus checks after their performances at UFC 143 on Saturday night, including a new "Wonderboy" in the UFC's welterweight division.
Stephen Thompson, Dustin Poirier, Fabricio Werdum and Roy Nelson each took home $65,000 in bonus money after their fights at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The awards were announced by UFC president Dana White after the conclusion of the card.
Thompson was the Knockout of the Night winner for his first-round head-kick knockout of Daniel Stittgen in the card's opening bout. Though the fight initially aired only on the UFC's Facebook stream, it was later shown on the back end of the UFC's live prelims special on FX – and plenty of fans were no doubt glad to see it or see it again. Thompson, who along with Stittgen was making his UFC debut, came into the fight just 5-0 in MMA – but an astounding 56-0 in kickboxing with 40 knockouts. He did what he is known for, landing a big right kick to the head that Stittgen never saw coming.
Poirier continued to make a good impression in the UFC, improving to 4-0 in the promotion with a first-round Submission of the Night win over Max Holloway, who was making his UFC debut. Poirier nearly finished Holloway once, torquing his arm back at an awkward angle. But Holloway got out – just momentarily. And Poirier took advantage, mounting him with a triangle and grabbing the arm again for a triangle-armbar tapout.
And in the co-main event, heavyweights Werdum and Nelson slugged it out in what was a slightly closer fight than the final 30-27 Werdum sweep of the scorecards would indicate. In the first round, Werdum leveled Nelson with repeated knees, opening up a big cut and nearly finishing him. But throughout the fight, Nelson just kept coming, refusing to go down – and even getting back up after Werdum took his back in the first round. In the second, Nelson even dropped Werdum right a right hand and dove in looking to finish. But in the end, Werdum was a precise striking machine in his first UFC fight since a UFC 90 loss in October 2008.