Despite holding the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Welterweight Championship, Carlos Condit had failed to generate any forward momentum after transitioning to the ranks of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in early 2009.
His debut fight ended in a split decision loss to Martin Kampmann, while he barely squeaked by Jake Ellenberger in his sophomore effort. In fact, he nearly became Rory MacDonald's biggest win to date, before mounting a triumphant comeback in the third round of their UFC 115 affair.
Then came a statement.
Condit traveled across the pond to sling leather opposite British banger Dan Hardy and put the division on blast by arresting "The Outlaw" with a blistering first-round knockout. It was his second finish in as many fights and he looked to have finally regained the form that earned him gold under his previous employer.
Dong Hyun Kim was not impressed.
"Stun Gun" was making some noise himself, easily dismantling former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) champions Amir Sadollah and Nate Diaz. With division champion Georges St. Pierre quickly running out of viable contenders, Kim's logical pairing against "The Natural Born Killer" at UFC 132 carried serious title implications.
Here's how it all went down back on July 2, 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Octagon Girl Brittney Palmer, glowing in green as part of a Bud Light Lime promotional campaign, blows the camera a kiss as she scampers out of the cage, just seconds before the competitors, who share a 76-inch reach, touch gloves to get the action started.
Kim stalks his prey, who circles right, then left.
Condit uncorks a high kick that's answered and when he rushes in with fists of fury, gets wrapped up and taken down by the hulking Korean. "The Natural Born Killer" spreads his wings in butterfly guard and executes a picture-perfect sweep, drawing praise from UFC color commentator Joe Rogan.
The boo-birds will not be leaving their nest on this night in "Sin City."
The Albuquerque native transitions to mount and presses forward with a guillotine, but Kim is having none of it and flaunts his defense with a well-timed hip escape. Condit pushes off and through 60 seconds of competition, we have a stalemate.
"13 career wins by submission," observes play-by-play man Mike Goldberg, as the partisan crowd initiates chants of "Carlos! Carlos!"
Condit tries to appease them by rattling off a pair of kicks before spring-boarding from the cage with a Superman punch that falls well short of its target. They meet in the center of the cage and unload punches in bunches, but neither welterweight gains an advantage.
They recover and reset.
Kim absorbs a powerful inside leg kick that baits him to push forward. Condit fires off a flurry and the Korean retreats, but senses the cage is nearby and freezes in place. Being stalked with nowhere to go, he wings a defensive right hand, but it's in vain.
His opponent is already airborne.
An upward knee connects flush with Kim's face and the Judo black belt crumbles against the cage. Without remorse, the former Cibola Cougar manages to fire off seven unanswered blows before referee Steve Mazzagatti can halt the assault.
Condit makes a celebratory victory lap, arms in the air, and moves on to fight Nick Diaz the following February.
He would once again prevail, but not without controversy. In the wake of his close unanimous decision win over the Stockton slugger, Condit opts to sit on the sidelines and protect his Interim title until the return of the surgically-repaired St. Pierre at UFC 154 in Montreal, which at the time of this writing, is less than a week away.
Will he fulfill his destiny in hostile territory, or simply serve as the catalyst for a St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva "super fight?"