Welsh fighter Oban Elliott has won on his UFC debut in front of a huge crowd in California, describing the victory as "the best moment of my life" after dedicating his success to his late father.

Elliott beat US star Val Woodburn at the Honda Centre in Anaheim and was overwhelmed in the aftermath as his unanimous victory was confirmed. UFC 298 was the highest-grossing event in the arena's history, and the highest-grossing MMA event in California state history.

Merthyr Tydfil fighter Elliott, 26, lost his father Paul to suicide when he was just seven-years-old. He credits his dad, who was an amateur boxer and UFC fan, with sparking his love for the sport.

Elliott has spent his entire life working towards what he has just achieved, doing night shifts on the rail tracks of south Wales to support himself while training up until recently. He worked from 10pm until late morning, digging and labouring.

Speaking in the immediate aftermath of the fight on Saturday night, he said: "With a tear in my eye, this is the greatest moment of my life, here in Anaheim, California, I can't thank you enough."

"You are looking at someone who is living the full-on dream," he added.

Ahead of the fight Elliott had spoken of his father, saying: "I didn’t know how I was going to get here at the time, but I told all my teachers in school, I told all my friends, ‘I will be in the UFC one day and I’ll be chasing that belt.’ And here I am! Look at me now.

“I’m absolutely over the moon to be here. This is my lifelong dream. I’ll tell you where it really did get deep. It’s documented I’ve lost my dad. ... Me taking that belt and putting it by his grave, that was the only way in my head, as a young kid, where I felt like I could, obviously not fill that void, but try to fill it. That was the only thing that got me through that from a young age. And here I am."

Oban Elliott is confirmed the winner
Oban Elliott is confirmed the winner

He said of his father last year: "If only he'd survived that bad patch he was going through, I'm sure this [his fighting success] would have given him a big purpose to stick about."

Elliott's first amateur fight was in July 2016, with his professional debut coming in March 2019 He went on to sign with Cage Warriors, before winning a place in UFC after victory in the organisation's 'Contender' series. He trains at Shore Mixed Martial Arts in Abertillery, with coach Richard Shore and fellow UFC fighter Jack Shore.

Speaking of his journey, he said: "When you're out on the night shift and you're on the track - those days were rough. But it just built my character differently.

"Behind the scenes, working full-time and training full-time has made me the man, the fighter that you see today."