What a difference one punch makes.
Rashad Evans delivered a blistering overhand right this weekend that had former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell snoring in the center of the Octagon during the main event at UFC 88: "Breakthrough" at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
It's a shocking result that perhaps has company president Dana White and the rest of the executives at UFC headquarters on West Sahara Avenue crying in their corn flakes this morning.
That's because Evans ruined a monster year-end pay-per-view (PPV) event on December 27, which had Liddell -- the promotion's biggest money-maker -- all but guaranteed to face current 205-pound champion Forrest Griffin with a win over "Sugar."
Not so fast, blockbuster.
Now it appears that Evans has earned that honor with one magical punch, setting up a bout between two champions from separate seasons of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, on New Year's Eve weekend.
That's a rather remarkable turn of events when you consider all the other "big name" draws in the loaded light heavyweight division, including Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Liddell, Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva, among others.
But there really are no other options -- all the fighters mentioned above (sans Machida and Silva) are either hurt or coming off losses. "The Dragon" is still at least one win away from title shot even though he may be the one most deserving and Silva would likely need another big win soon to justify leapfrogging either Machida or Evans.
Indeed, it's a chain of events and circumstances that appeared unlikely as recently as of July 4 -- the day before Griffin pulled off his own shocker, winning a unanimous decision to defeat Jackson for the 205-pound belt at UFC 86: "Jackson vs Griffin."
But that's the nature of the MMA beast, whether you -- or the UFC brass -- like it or not.