UFC 224 emanated tonight (Saturday, May 12, 2018) from the Juenesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, headlined by a women’s bantamweight defense by champ Amanda Nunes opposite contender Raquel Pennington.
The Fight of the Night, though, would go to co-headliners Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Kelvin Gastelum. The Brazilian grappling savant took Gastelum down in the first and pursued the finish. But he wore himself out in the attempt, and the lighter, younger Gastelum put it on him over the final ten minutes. While Souza had his moments, landing hard shots down the stretch, he was obviously fatigued. The Arizona native sat him down with a left cross in the second round and seemed to have him on the ropes from then on. In the end, Gastelum emerged victorious with a split decision victory. But both men earned an extra $50,000 for their Fight of the Night efforts.
In the opener of the main card, Lyoto Machida added another brilliant knockout to his highlight reel, blasting Vitor Belfort into unconsciousness with a scintillating front kick to the jaw in the second round. The kick was reminiscent of Anderson Silva’s UFC 126 knockout of Belfort. On the post-fight show, Machida dubbed the move the “Retirement Kick”, since he sent Randy Couture packing with a similar highlight. “The Dragon” pocketed an extra $50,000 for his efforts.
The final Performance of the Night bonus went to Alexey Oleynik, who pulled off the second Ezekiel choke finish in UFC history. He also owns the first. This one, too, was from the bottom, just like his submission of Viktor Pesta. This time he dragged Junior Albini down on top of him, latched onto the neck, and squeezed until the tap came. Despite being in half guard on top, Albini was forced to tap, giving the Ezekiel choke specialist another feather in his cap and an extra $50,000.
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