Since it was such a success* last time, we thought we’d take another crack at predicting which fighters will pocket tomorrow‘s end-of-night bonuses. But first we’d like to predict the amount of the bonuses themselves. If you’ve been paying attention, you know that the UFC’s Fight/Submission/Knockout bonuses have decreased from $55,000 to $50,000 to $35,000 over the last three pay-per-view events. After the last drastic reduction, the general opinion was that the amounts were going down to recoup some of the money lost to the UFC’s European expansion effort. Now that the show is back in the U.S., they can be a little more generous. And they will — but just enough to demonstrate improvement and shut people up. We’re saying the bonuses will be $40k each. Now let’s get to the fight card:
Gleison Tibau vs. Tyson Griffin (lightweights)
Chris Lytle vs. Kyle Bradley (welterweights)
Marvin Eastman vs. Terry Martin (middleweights)
David Heath vs. Tim Boetsch (light heavyweights)
Keita Nakamura vs. Rob Emerson (welterweights)
Knockout of the Night: Eastman vs. Martin is a battle between two good fighters who have had terrible luck in the Octagon. The winner will prove that he still belongs there; the loser could very well be banished forever. Thus, we expect both men to come out swinging their asses off. We were tempted to give this a Fight of the Night nod, but it feels too much like a first-round-TKO kind of match. Marvin Eastman has been knocked out every time he’s fought in the UFC. Four of Terry Martin’s last five fights have resulted in KO/TKO victories — and we think he’ll do it again tomorrow night, picking up the bonus in the process. Dark horse: Kyle Bradley. If you want to talk about good fighters who have had rough times in the Octagon, Chris Lytle is Exhibit fucking A (34-15-4 MMA record, 3-7 in the UFC). There’s nothing to suggest that his fortunes will improve at “Breaking Point,” and his opponent Kyle Bradley is a guy who has been paying his dues in regional promotions as a knockout artist. His current seven-fight win-streak includes five first-round KO/TKOs, and he could be on his way to adding one more.
Submission of the Night: Though he had a shaky UFC run early in his career, Ricardo Almeida proved that he could hang with the big dogs in Pancrase and PRIDE. Rob Yundt, on the other hand, was just pulled out of the Alaskan wilderness on short notice, and may get serious cage-fright performing for the hordes at Mandalay Bay tomorrow. Not to say that he’s a weak fighter, but he’s outmatched, and doesn’t have enough big-time experience to avoid getting tapped by Almeida’s strong jiu-jitsu.
Fight of the Night: Gleison Tibau vs. Tyson Griffin. Thanks to his fights with Frankie Edgar, Clay Guida, and Thiago Tavares, Tyson Griffin’s name has become synonymous with the knock-down drag-out 15-minute war, and Tibau is no stranger to going the distance either. This matchup may contain the highest level of talent at UFC 81, and the lightweight pace will be a refreshing break from the lumbering beasts that dominate the rest of the card. We think Griffin will win in another wild three-rounder that earns both men the bonus. Dark horse: Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir. We have a hard time picturing any other outcome than an abrupt first-round stoppage; the fight’s going to the ground early, and it’s ending on the ground, one way or the other. But the excitement surrounding this match is so high that Lesnar/Mir will surely be the most memorable moment of “Breaking Point.” If the action lives up to the hype — even if doesn’t last long — Dana could reward both guys with a little extra walking-around money. For the record, we’re pulling for Brock via ground-and-pound just so the UFC can get another viable heavyweight in the mix.
Think the bonuses will shake out differently? Let us know in the comments section…
* We were 1 for 3, which, as a batting average, is very impressive.