UFC Houston: Predicting the Performance Bonus Winners

Which fighters are primed for a big performance when the UFC visit Houston, Texas, on Saturday night? The following fighters could be banking an extra $50k this weekend.

The UFC returns to Houston, Texas, on Saturday night for a Fight Night card that is headlined by the eagerly anticipated return of “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung. Opposing him in the main event is established featherweight contender Dennis Bermudez.

The last time the UFC visited the Toyota Center fans were treated to a five round classic between Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson. More of the same on Saturday would be warmly received.

The $50k Performance of the Night bonuses are usually awarded to the fighters competing in the Fight of the Night (the last event elected to give four performance bonuses rather than having a Fight of the Night bonus). Typically two additional bonuses are paid to the fighters who put in the most impressive performances, whether that is a dominant win or a spectacular finish.

Here are the fighters you can expect to see pocket an extra $50k for their efforts in Houston on Saturday night.

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Performance of the Night – Chas Skelly

In Denver at the UFC’s most recent event, all four performance bonuses were handed to fighters on the main card. That is a rarity. Over the previous 10 events, 17 performance bonuses have been dished out to fighters below the main card.

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On Saturday, Chas Skelly has a great opportunity to win one himself. Skelly is a significant betting favorite over opponent Chris Gruetzemacher. On top of that, he has finished four of his five UFC wins inside the distance.

Last time out, Skelly submitted Maximo Blanco in only 19 seconds to earn his first UFC performance bonus. While Saturday’s fight is unlikely to end quite so spectacularly, the signs are there that Skelly can finish this one early.

Gruetzemacher is a tough rather than dangerous opponent. While he only has one pro loss on his record, “Gritz” has fought lesser competition for the majority of his career. A 2009 defeat did come via submission, and Gruetzemacher was also stopped inside two rounds by Artem Lobov in an unofficial bout on The Ultimate Fighter 22.

Performance of the Night – Angela Hill

Given that Hill is as wide as a +430 underdog at the time of writing, any win against Jessica Andrade would be impressive. Yet this is anything but a speculative hero pick, I believe Angela Hill will win this fight.

The Invicta FC strawweight champion had a stellar 2016, winning all four of her Invicta bouts. Hill is a powerful and diverse striker who has shown significant improvements in her submission game, both on offense and defense, in recent fights.

Andrade is a wild and powerful fighter who cannot be given an inch, with respect to how impressive she’s been at strawweight, she fought two fighters who were perfect matchups for her both in terms of style and physical prowess. Jessica Penne is a natural atomweight, and Joanne Calderwood typically struggles when fighters apply pressure.

Angela Hill’s movements are more fluid than Andrade’s, and her striking is more refined. She should be able to create space when necessary and counter with the sort of power that forces Andrade to think. All of Andrade’s UFC defeats have been via submission or stoppage, and don’t be surprised to see Andrade over commit and leap into a submission either.

Fight of the Night – Dennis Bermudez vs. Chan Sung Jung

It has to be, right? In six fights in the UFC and WEC, “The Korean Zombie” has been involved in two fight of the years, two fight of the nights, and earned three other performance bonuses. In Dennis Bermudez, he has an opponent who can push back enough to turn this into a war.

Bermudez himself has won three performance bonuses, and a Fight of the Night during his UFC career. His battle with Jeremy Stephens at UFC 189 would have earned similar honors on many less spectacular cards too.

The concern would be that three and a half years away from the cage for Jung is a significant break. The man affectionately referred to as the Zombie is only 29, and can take comfort from the performances of other UFC fighters who came back after long stints away. Dominick Cruz and Brock Lesnar for instance.

More than all of that, this is a five round main event and those extra main event rounds can make all the difference. Many times they have turned good three round scraps into more memorable contests. We have also seen performances bonuses handed out in five of the previous six UFC main events, so it seems unlikely that this would be the one to buck the trend.

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