Calvin Kattar ended Dan Ige’s six-fight winning streak with a unanimous points decision victory in their featherweight main event on UFC Fight Island 1 in Abu Dhabi.
Judges scored the fight 49-46 49-46 48-47 for Kattar, the sixth-ranked featherweight in the world, as he stopped Ige’s winning run in a high-quality contest.
Kattar almost stopped Ige in the final round after landing a knee to floor his opponent, but he bravely hung on until time expired, sending the decision to the scorecards.
Superior stand-up fighting and extra power did the trick for Kattar, who inflicted a sizeable amount of damage to the right eye of Ige when getting the victory.
"I was happy to go out with my team and finally give ourselves a main event win, and what better spot than out here in Abu Dhabi on Fight Island," Kattar said.
"Anywhere, anytime, that's my mindset. We just follow where the opportunities are at, we had a big one here in Abu Dhabi, like I said, I'm just happy to go and capitalize. It's a great check point for me and my team."
Kattar improves to 22-4 while Hawai native Ige drops to 14-3, but insisted he would learn from sharing the Octagon with such a high-class operator.
"Calvin is one of the best in the world," Ige said. "I tested myself against one of the best in the world. I'm just gonna keep growing and getting better."
UFC Fight Night: Kattar v Ige main card results
- Tim Elliott bt Ryan Benoit (Unanimous decision)
- Jimme Rivera bt Cody Stamann (Unanimous decision)
- Taila Santos bt Molly McCann (Unanimous decision)
- Mounir Lazzez bt Abdul Razak Alhassan (Unanimous decision)
British duo Jack Shore and Lerone Murphy won on the preliminaries of the latest UFC 'Fight Island' event but Liverpool flyweight Molly McCann was outpointed by Brazil's Taila Santos.
Shore, who UFC president Dana White last year described as the "hottest prospect" in the UK, maintained his perfect professional mixed martial arts record by submitting Aaron Phillips in their bantamweight contest.
The Welshman locked in a rear-naked choke midway through the second round, leading to his 13th successive win and second in the UFC after defeating Nohelin Hernandez in identical fashion in his debut with the company last year.
"It feels very good, the fans of this sport want to see finishes, they don't want to see drawn out decisions and I'm not the type of guy that wants to be in three rounds wars," he said.
"To come away with another finish, that's 12 out of 13 fights now, I'm a happy man."
Murphy bagged his first win in the UFC after stopping Brazil's Ricardo Ramos towards the end of their featherweight clash, the Londoner raining down a series of unanswered right hands to force the referee's intervention.
Murphy, now 9-0-1 in MMA, said: "I wanted to prove that I belong here in the UFC. I plan to spend the rest of my career in the UFC, climb to the top, get into that top 15 and obviously one day be champion.
"I'm just going to go back, heal up for a month and then get back to training and grow and grow."
It was a night of mixed fortunes for British fighters, though, as McCann, fellow Liverpudlian Chris Fishgold and Wales' John Phillips all suffered defeats.
McCann was on a three-fight winning streak and opened up a cut above her opponent's left eye but Santos' superior work-rate led to her winning all three rounds on the judges' scorecards.
Fishgold dropped a unanimous decision to American opponent Jared Gordon, a fight that was held at a 149lb catch-weight after the British fighter failed to make weight.
Phillips was submitted by Swedish middleweight Khamzat Chimaev in the second round, but British-based Lithuanian light-heavyweight Modestas Bukauskas overcame Andreas Michailidis, with the referee ruling the Greek was in no position to continue after the hooter sounded to end the first round after being on the end of a series of elbows.