Three more fighters earned UFC contracts after the latest episode of Dana White’s Contender Series in Las Vegas, with Welsh welterweight Oban Elliott earning himself a deal after one of the best Contender Series fights of the season so far.

Elliott went back and forth with Oktagon MMA welterweight champion Kaik Brito in an all-out war that went all the way to the judges’ scorecards.

Both men started fast and let their strikes go early, with Elliott mixing in his wrestling to keep Brito guessing. But the Brazilian’s striking threat was clear to see, and a huge overhand right from Brito served as a warning to the Welshman in the final 60 seconds of the opening round.

Elliott used his wrestling well against Brito’s power striking in Round 2, but got himself caught in a guillotine as the Brazilian took advantage of the Welshman’s exposed neck during a takedown attempt. Elliott expertly worked his way free, but was then dropped and badly rocked by a huge shot from Brito.

Brito then teed off on Elliott, who was in survival mode for the final 90 seconds of the round as the Oktagon champion let fly with strikes. Then, when Elliott tried and failed with a takedown, Brito snatched an armbar with seconds remaining, but Elliott refused to tap as time ran out on the Brazilian.

After coming close to being finished in Round 2, Elliott came out composed for Round 3, and worked the outside well as he kept an equally-fatigued Brito at bay. Elliott buried two massive kicks into Brito’s midsection, then followed his man to the mat after Brito missed with a spinning backfist.

Working from inside Brito’s guard, Elliott scored with punches and elbows as he battered his man all the way to the final horn.

After an incredible three-round war, the judges scored the bout 29-28, 29-28, 28-28 to give Elliott a majority decision win, and convince UFC president Dana White that “The Welsh Gangster” deserved his shot on the big stage.

“I’m not gonna lie. I was on the fence on this one,” White admitted.

“This kid’s all heart, he’s all toughness and he’s definitely full of personality. There’s many things that I love about fighters – one of the biggest ones is how bad do you want it? I don’t know anybody that wants it badder than this kid does. I’m gonna give you the opportunity, kid. So good luck!”

The main event lasted just 74 seconds, as Zachary Reese finished Eli Aronov in swift fashion with an armbar to earn himself a UFC deal, and he was joined by the night’s first winner, as Luis Pajuelo claimed a first-round TKO finish, and a UFC opportunity, with victory over Robbie Ring.

The lone winner not to earn a UFC deal was Sweden’s undefeated Josefine Knutsson, who dominated Isis Verbeek over three rounds to pick up the win. But it wasn’t enough to convince White to pull the trigger on a contract, with the UFC boss explaining, “She is obviously super talented. She checks all the boxes … I just didn’t see it tonight. I didn’t see it. I know when I see it. And tonight, I didn’t see it.

“I think that she’s super talented. I think that she has the ability to do it. I’d like to see her try harder to finish fights … I think she needs a little more MMA experience.”

Dana White’s Contender Series 59: Official results

  • Zachary Reese def. Eli Aronov via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 1:14
  • Oban Elliott def. Kaik Brito via majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
  • Josefine Knutsson def. Isis Verbeek via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Luis Pajuelo def. Robbie Ring via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 3:43