James Moontasri took a tough loss in his UFC debut. | Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com

James Moontasri was thrust into the UFC spotlight against Joe Ellenberger at UFC Fight Night “Swanson vs. Stephens.”

After signing a four-fight contract with UFC and being penciled in on short notice against an opponent known for overcoming the odds, Moontasri was given the opportunity to open the main card on Fox Sports 1.

For five minutes, everything went as planned for “Moonwalker,” as he picked apart Ellenberger on the feet and nearly earned a first-round stoppage. In fact, according to FightMetric.com, Moontasri landed 64 total strikes in the opening round -- 27 of them significant -- to Ellenberger’s seven.

The frame left MMA fans and pundits alike calling for a 10-8 score.

Over the course of the final two rounds, Ellenberger clawed his way back into the fight. The second clearly went to “Excalibur,” but outside of a lone takedown in the final round, Moontasri again did work when the fight was upright, landing 46 strikes to his opponent’s 12.

Ellenberger went on to take a split decision with scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29. In an interview with Sherdog.com, Moontasri made no excuses for the loss.

“It was an amazing experience finally fighting in the UFC. I always tell my students to be humble when you win and even more humble when you lose,” Moontasri said. “I regret nothing I did in this fight. It was the best experience of my life. Win or lose, I learned, and that is the most important part.”

Even while Moontasri was being controlled by Ellenberger on the floor, the Black House MMA product still believed he was winning the fight.

“He was a good wrestler but didn’t control me that much more than I did him. He took my back, but I was fine. He was on his back more than me in the fight,” Moontasri said. “I thought I was winning the whole time, thought I won the first and third easily. I honestly thought I won until I heard the decision. I never have luck with the judges. Both my losses are by split decision. But it doesn’t matter what I thought; it only matters what those three judges thought.”

With a bright future ahead of him, look for Moontasri to bounce back from the controversial decision sooner rather than later.

“I like to stay active, so I’ll want to fight as soon as possible,” Moontasri said. “I tried to do the ‘People’s Elbow’ like The Rock at one point. Maybe I should have done whatever the judges wanted to see, but I don’t know what that is. I’m just glad I put on a good show for my debut.”

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