Not much was expected from Elves Brener in his
Ultimate Fighting Championship
debut, as evidenced by the fact
that he closed as a 4-to-1 underdog against Zubaira Tukhugov at UFC
284 in February. Four-plus months and a contentious split decision
over Tukhugov later, and the oddsmakers continue to show him
precious little respect.

Brener will draw his second Octagon assignment when he meets the
heavily favored Guram Kutateladze as part of the
UFC on ESPN 48
undercard this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las
Vegas. Having established a modest foothold in the organization’s
lightweight division, the Brazilian vowed to take a more aggressive
approach in his sophomore appearance.

“Now that I’m on my second bout, I can go for a knockout or a
submission,” Brener told “It’s what I like. I like
feeling like I’m in a war. Against Tukhugov, I found my distance
early on, so it was easier to keep scoring points without exposing
myself too much. I had spoken to my cornermen between every round.
My goal was to guarantee a win so I could start out in the
promotion on the right foot. This time, you can be sure I’ll go for
a finish. If [UFC President] Dana
is in attendance, he’ll love what he sees.

“I feel great now that I had my UFC debut,” he added. “My family
and I come from a very humble background. Everything feels surreal.
Tukhugov had said in an interview that facing me was a gift. In
reality, I’m the one who received gifts: my money, plus a
percentage of his pay since he didn’t make weight.”

Brener recognizes that his upset win was by no means a given before
the split scorecards were read. Tukhugov outlanded him 70-69 in
significant strikes and was credited with more than two minutes of
control time. Popular opinion aside, Brener believes he deserved
the decision.

“I totally respect Zubaira,” he said. “I knew he was going to be
very tough. I made weight. It was my UFC debut. I was booked at the
last minute. I demonstrated I was better. I finished the fight
better than him. I landed the better strikes. I hurt his face and
leg. Before the very end, I already felt I had won.”

Kutateladze promises to be another difficult obstacle to overcome.
The “Georgian Viking” has rattled off nine victories in his past 10
outings but finds himself on the rebound following a split decision
defeat to Damir Ismagulov at UFC on ESPN 37 in June 2022. Neither
man figures to struggle finding motivation ahead of their
confrontation at 155 pounds.

“Besides bringing another win home, God willing, I want to fight
again before year’s end, preferably in Brazil,” Brener said. “By
2024, I’d like to be facing a Top 15 opponent. I know I’m new to
the UFC, but my goal is to get to the top. It’s going to happen.
It’s unavoidable.”

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Elves Brener’s Second Act