Leon Edwards clung on for the final minute to decisively outpoint Nate Diaz and stake his claim for a UFC title shot.
Edwards was cruising to victory in Arizona last night when he was wobbled by a left hand from the veteran in the fifth and final round.
But the Brit remained on his feet in the face on an onslaught from Diaz before having his hand raised after the three judges scored the bout 49-46.
He will now target a rematch with welterweight champion Kamaru Usman having lost to the Nigerian in 2015.
“Nate’s a veteran, he gave it everything including the kitchen sink,” said Edwards. “He gave it everything and he got my respect.
“I got caught with the bank hand, it slipped through the guard. He hit me hard enough to wobble me, I’ve only been wobbled once in my career so fair play.
“I’m young, I’m still learning and I Iook forward to my title shot. I didn’t feel no pressure, it was another fight and I approached it like another fight; I didn’t build it up in my head to be something its not.
“Like I said, Nate’s a veteran and he’s gained my respect in there tonight and I look forward to my world title shot.”
Diaz began showboating almost immediately in the first round as he turned his back on Edwards. The Brit kept his composure and looked to attack his rival’s legs before connecting with a right-left to the head.
He was able to take the fight to the mat midway through the round but Diaz manoeuvred himself back to his feet by the end of the session.
Both fighters landed right hands in the opening exchanges of the second round but Edwards’ leg kicks were beginning to have an effect.
And the visitor tripped Diaz to take him back to the canvas but again the home favourite was able to scramble out and caught Edwards with a left hand before the buzzer.
Diaz, whose last fight against Jorge Masvidal was stopped due to cuts, was soon injured again on the right side of his head and over his left eye as blood poured from the wound in the third round.
Edwards’ elbows had inflicted the damage and he had by now opened up a healthy lead on the scorecards.
The Brit landed a huge left hand in the opening stages of the fourth session as Diaz continued to bleed despite the best efforts of his cutman.
And Edwards continued to deliver a composed performance to leave Diaz needing a final-round stoppage.
He almost pulled a rabbit out of his hat when he rocked Edwards with a left hand in the final minute but Diaz was unable to find a finishing salvo.