Rising Kiwi talent Jay-Jay Wilson has continued his march through Bellator's featherweight division with a gritty split-decision upset win over Tywan Claxton at Bellator 242 in Connecticut.
The 22-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu wizard overcame Claxton's power grappling offence, threatening early and often with his arsenal of submissions, and displaying his ever-improving striking to take his undefeated professional record to 6-0.
The explosive Claxton - who has several highlight-reel finishes to his name - posed a significant step up in quality of opposition for the underdog Wilson, and the victory sends a undeniable statement to his rivals in one of the promotion's deepest divisions.
"I came out with a good gameplan to let my strikes go," said Wilson afterwards. "In the second round, I felt him push me up against the cage and he wasn't doing much.
"I just kept my cool and looked for options. He managed to slow me down... but it is what it is.
"When I come out, I always look to finish."
Before the right, San-Diego-based Wilson spoke about his intention to pressure his American opponent and he did that from the outset, securing a first-round takedown and expertly passing guard to work for a rear-naked choke, only to be denied by the clock.
In the second round, Claxton found his mark with some power shots, but was unable to capitalise. Wilson spent most of the round against the fence, defending well and landing a late takedown.
Entering a third round for the first time in his professional career, Wilson matched Claxton on the feet and when the contest went back to the cage, created plenty of effective offence with his 'dirty' boxing.
In the waning stages of the fight, Wilson took what may have been a result-turning gamble, dragging Claxton back to the mat and slapping on a triangle choke that forced his opponent to defend to the final bell.
The split-decision is also the first of Wilson's career, after finishing all his previous five bouts within two rounds.