Whatever anyone else thinks of him, they have to regard him as $50,000 richer after Saturday night at UFC 178. UFC featherweight Conor McGregor claimed the post-fight Performance of the Night bonus with his first-round stoppage of Dustin Poirier.
McGregor, 26, went back and forth with Poirier, 25, early, but eventually landed a punch that after replay appeared to be behind and above the ear, yet still within legal territory. The strike dropped Poirier face first to the mat, which allowed the Irish fighter to immediately pounce, throw a few extra punches and take the win. The end came at 1:46 of the first round. McGregor improves to 16-2 while Poirier drops to 16-4.
In four UFC bouts, this marks the third time McGregor has earned a post-fight performance bonus.
The other $50,0000 Performance of the Night bonus was claimed by former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, 29, who returned to the sport Saturday night after a near three-year hiatus due to a string of injuries. Against Takeya Mizugaki, 30, on Saturday, Cruz was nearly flawless, getting the Japanese fighter to the ground from a perfectly-timed takedown. As Mizugaki scrambled, Cruz poured on a series of shots that were unanswered and immediately took their toll. As the blitz started, it continued unabated, which put Mizugaki down face first, forcing the referee stoppage at 1:01 of the first round.
Cruz's record improves to 20-1 while Mizugaki slides to 20-8-2.
The Fight of the Night at UFC 178, and one sure to be the point of controversy going forward, was a middleweight contest between Tim Kennedy, 35, and Yoel Romero, 37. Romero looked to be in control early, avoiding takedowns and striking effectively from the outside. Towards the end of the second round, however, the Cuban was nearly stopped by punches when the bell seemingly saved him. In between rounds, Romero ended up spending an extra 28 seconds on his stool as a mishap with the application of vaseline to a cut he sustained had to be cleaned and re-checked by the commission. While the extra time prompted outrage from the fans and Kennedy, the bout continued in the third, which is where Romero turned the tables and stopped Kennedy with a series of strikes.
Romero's record climbs to 9-1 while Kennedy drops to 18-5.
UFC 178 took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.