LAS VEGAS – Raulian Paiva entered UFC on ESPN 27 the underdog and exited the victor.

In a high-action, back-and-forth battle, Paiva (21-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) defeated Kyler Phillips by majority decision. The fight served as the co-main event and earned “Fight of the Night” honors.

“I’m very happy,” Paiva told MMA Junkie at a post-fight news conference. “I’m even happier because I could prove my evolution since the beginning of the year. Last time here, I couldn’t fight. I could fight a very tough guy and prove and show all my skills.”

The withdrawal Paiva referred to was his scheduled May 22 fight, which he pulled out of when he fell ill days before the event due to weigh-cutting complications. The failed drop to flyweight caused Paiva to move up to bantamweight – a move he’s glad he made.

“The real thing is that (in) this new weight division, I get here healthier, stronger, faster, and I can perform better,” Paiva said. “I’m sure the decision was very good, so that’s why we took this decision. … The thing is, during my career, I was always training with guys heavier than me to feel the punches. I guess this helped me a lot.”

The decision was close, though the majority of MMA reporters for major outlets submitted scorecards that indicated the fight should’ve been a draw or gone to Phillips (9-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC). In Paiva’s mind, however, there was no question he did enough.

“Me, and my team, we disagreed,” Paiva said. “We didn’t think it was a 10-8 (in) the first round because I was always moving and defending myself. We were confident that I won the second and third round, so I knew I got the W.”

UFC on ESPN 27 took place Saturday at the UFC Apex and aired on ESPN.

Check out Paiva’s full post-fight news conference in the video above.

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