In a world where the majority of post-fight bonuses go to the main card or main event attractions, UFC 157's preliminary card and Strikeforce crossovers stole the show. All of Saturday's winners earned $50,000 for their performances, which took place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif..
Knockout of the Night went to Strikeforce veteran and returning UFC welterweightRobbie Lawler. He was the only main card fighter to win a fight night bonus. Despite being taken down early with a beautiful knee tap, Lawler was able to maintain composure and ultimately stop Josh Koshceck with brutal ground and pound against the fence after a scramble put him on top of the one-time top UFC welterweight contender.
Lawler unloaded several hard punches that didn't render Koscheck unconscious, but left the AKA product unable to defend himself. Referee Herb Dean stopped the contest at 3:57 of the first round. This is Lawler's first post-fight award in the UFC. Saturday's UFC return for Lawler took place after stints in EliteXC, Strikeforce, ICON Sport and other promotions since leaving the Zuffa organization after a loss to Evan Tanner at UFC 50 in October of 2004.
UFC featherweight Dennis Bermudez, a season 14 veteran of 'The Ultimate Fighter', earned Fight of the Night honors opposite UFC veteran Matt Grice for a sensational back and forth war the ultimately went the distance. Bermudez took the split decision victory on the judges scorecards (29-28 Grice, 29-28 Bermudez, 29-28 Bermudez), but not before nearly being stopped with strikes in the first round.
Grice looked sensational early, scoring takedowns and left strong left hooks over and over with Bermudez seemingly have no anser. One of those left hooks sent Bermudez crashing to the mat in the first round, although he was able to survive despite being badly hurt.
The second round was predominately a back and forth affair, but the third round is one some have suggested could be 2013's leading candidate for MMA's round of the year. Bermudez was able to hurt Grice early with an uppercut, but the Oklahoman wouldn't go away easily. Bermudez threw nearly every strike he could, landing leg kicks, right hooks, flying knees and elbows. He rocked Grice nearly to the point of stoppage and referee Herb Dean seemed close to stopping it on several occasions. But Grice hung on and by the end of the third round, was going strike-for-strike with Bermudez. Their effort earned a stading ovation from the crowd in attendance.
Earning Submission of the Night was preliminary card fighter Kenny Robertson for his modified hamstring crank overBrock Jardine in the first round of their bout. Robertson, who earned his first UFC victory after three Octagon appearances with his submission win on Saturday night, had Jardine's back when he tried to undo his base from his left leg. Maintaining back control, Robertson reached behind the heel and pulled the ankle up, stretching the hamstring. Seemingly out of nowhere, Jardine tapped. A replay of the video revealed the extreme angle the technique placed on Jardine's hamstring, which forced the tap. The end came at 2:57 of the very first round.