Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler made a statement in the lightweight division on Saturday.
The lightweight stars both earned $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses in addition to scoring huge wins over their respective opponents, Conor McGregor and Dan Hooker at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi.
Poirier closed the show in dramatic fashion, becoming the first fighter to finish McGregor with strikes. After brutalizing McGregor’s lead leg with low kicks, Poirier exploded in the second round with a flurry of punches against the fence that put McGregor on his back and forced the stoppage. This is the 12th Fight Night bonus of Poirier’s UFC career.
With the win, Poirier avenged a loss to McGregor dating back to September 2014.
Were it not for Poirier’s incredible performance, Chandler would probably be the most talked-about fighter of the night. The three-time Bellator champion made a stunning UFC debut, needing just 2:30 to catch Hooker with a left hand and finish with punches on the ground.
Afterwards, Chandler boldly called out McGregor, Poirier, and retired lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov.
No Fight of the Night award was given, so two more Performance of the Night bonuses were given instead to middleweight Makhmud Muradov and strawweight Marina Rodriguez.
Muradov won his 14th straight fight and stayed perfect in three UFC appearances with his second consecutive third-round finish. He put away Andrew Sanchez with a flying knee and punches with a little over two minutes remaining in the bout.
Rodriguez opened the pay-per-view main card by upsetting budding strawweight star Amanda Ribas. Coming off of a close loss and a draw, Rodriguez needed a win, and after surviving Ribas’ grappling in round one, she caught Ribas with a power punch in round two that Ribas couldn’t recover from. Despite some initial confusion with referee Herb Dean over the timing of the stoppage, Rodriguez picked up right where she left off and secured the TKO win.