Matt Mitrione file photo: Sherdog.com

Though their 15-minute barnburner ended in a controversial split decision, former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk and the man he defeated, world-ranked Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Evan Dunham, banked matching $70,000 “Fight of the Night” bonuses in wake of UFC 119 “Mir vs. Cro Cop” on Saturday at the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

In his first appearance in more than a year, Sherk claimed a split nod from the judges against the previously unbeaten Dunham. The boisterous crowd and many cage-side observers saw it differently. The 37-year-old Minnesota Martial Arts Academy standout came out strong, as he put Dunham on the canvas in the first-round and wounded him with an elbow from half guard. The blow left a lateral gash near Dunham’s right eye.

Dunham responded and exploited his advantage standing in rounds two and three. Still, Sherk’s submission defense and takedowns, along with the damage he exacted with his elbow, were enough to bring the judges to his side.

Meanwhile, heavyweights Matt Mitrione and Joey Beltran also pocketed $70,000 “Fight of the Night” bonuses after their three-round donnybrook ended in a unanimous decision victory for Mitrione. Spawned by Season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, Mitrione, a former NFL player, remains unbeaten in three professional appearances.

Finally, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 7 finalist C.B. Dollaway earned a $70,000 “Submission of the Night” bonus after he coaxed a tapout from Canadian journeyman Joe Doerksen with a first-round guillotine choke. Doerksen had not been submitted inside the first round in nearly nine years.

UFC officials did not award a “Knockout of the Night” bonus, despite former heavyweight champion Frank Mir’s third-round KO against Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in the main event.

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