There was no question who deserved Fight of the Night at UFC Phoenix, but the Performance of the Night bonuses were open to debate.
Vicente Luque and Bryan Barberena turned in an early Fight of the Year candidate. The three-round war had just about everything: knockdowns, near-submissions, elbows, knees, combinations, ground-and-pound, granite chins, and more. Barberena was up two rounds-to-zero on one scorecard, while the other two had it even. Unfortunately for him, Luque would not be denied. He punctuated a thrilling three rounds with a TKO (knees and punches) with just six seconds left in the fight.
The UFC also delivered two Performance of the Night bonuses: One to the debuting Kron Gracie and one to bantamweight Luke Sanders.
Gracie lived up to every expectation associated with his last name after submitting Alex Caceres is one round. Gracie, 30, showed no hesitation striking with “Bruce Leeroy.” He initiated a grappling exchange early in the fight and that marked the beginning of the end. Gracie flawlessly took Caceres’ back and gradually sunk in a rear-naked choke for the tap.
Sanders ate Renan Barao’s best shots in the first-round and made the necessary adjustments to finish the fight in the second. Sanders fired off a picture-perfect one-two combination, dropping Barao in round two. He reigned artillery-like punches on the ground that forced the referee to intervene a hair over one minute into the round.
UFC Phoenix earned the company $1,409,447 in gate revenue. There were 14,269 fans in attendance for the fights.
UFC Phoenix took place on Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. Take a peek around bloodyelbow.com for play-by-play, highlights, and more post-fight coverage.