The competition was stiff Tuesday night in Las Vegas on the second episode of this season’s Dana White Contender Series, but Calgary’s Chad Anheliger now has a UFC contract after a split decision victory over Tajikistan’s Muin Gafurov.

In the opening bout, Anheliger, who started his professional career with a 2-5 record, won his ninth straight fight and improved to 11-5 with the win over Gafurov, who looked to become the UFC’s first-ever signee from his home country.

Despite being a more than three-to-one underdog, the bantamweight Anheliger landed a big knee, which dropped his opponent in the first round. After a rough showing in the second round, he bounced back in the third to outland his exhausted opponent.

White said the fact that Anheliger was an underdog played into his decision.

“He’s on a nine-fight win streak, he was an underdog tonight… and he’s Canadian,” said White as he awarded Anheliger a contract.

Now in its fifth season, the Contender Series features unsigned mixed martial artists competing in a bid to get selected by White personally and earn a UFC contract.

Anheliger became just the second Canadian to earn a contract on the program after T.J. Laramie became the first to accomplish the feat in the previous season.

“I was on pins waiting and then I started to tell I was going to get it, especially when he wanted another Canadian on there,” said Anheliger in an interview with Laura Sanko after being awarded the contract.

Anheliger, who turns 35 on Dec. 1, will be among the oldest bantamweights to compete in the UFC when he makes his debut.

On next week’s episode, another Canadian prospect looks to earn a contract when St. Catharines, Ont., native Jasmine Jasudavicius faces Julia Polastri in the women’s flyweight division.