That's how close Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) top prospect Rory MacDonald was to finishing his fight against Carlos Condit at UFC 115 back in June of 2010. Instead, the only thing finished was him, as he let a dominant performance against the former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Welterweight Champion slip away in the third and final frame.
"I learned a lot about myself in that fight," MacDonald would later say.
Indeed. Less than a year (and one injury) later, the combatant formerly known as "The Waterboy" was given a rebound fight against The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5 Champion Nate Diaz, who like MacDonald, was also coming off a disappointing loss against a tough contender when Dong Hyun Kim hugged and mugged him at UFC 125.
But something was different.
Prior to his showdown against Diaz at the UFC 129 pay-per-view (PPV) event, which sold out the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, MacDonald had moved from his hometown of Kelowna, British Columbia to Montreal, Quebec, to train alongside UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, under the watchful eye of Firas Zahabi at Tristar Gym.
Diaz was nestled snugly in the 209 with head coach Cesar Gracie.
Not surprisingly, the wily Stockton striker had opened as the -160 favorite over "Ares," though that number would slowly but surely even out in the days leading up to what became the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion's high-water mark for gate and attendance.
55,000 fans -- as well as the 1.5 million tuning into the Spike TV "Prelims" -- bore witness to the ensuing ass-whooping.
The opening frame was vintage Diaz, complete with fluid fists and the gift of gab. MacDonald counter-punched his way to a 10-9 round and turned up the heat in round two, rag-dolling his opponent in the center of the cage and changing the tempo of the entire fight.
Rinse and repeat.
The Canadian would violently suplex Diaz three more times in the final frame while landing big punches from the top. By the time the horn called an end to the 15-minute contest, there wasn't much left to the imagination. This was MacDonald's fight from bell-to-bell.
Also on the Spike TV card, another rising welterweight, Jake Ellenberger, was making his presence known, knocking out local favorite Sean Pierson with a thunderous left hook. Like MacDonald, "The Juggernaut" would suffer a temporary setback, but is now once again poised for a run at the title.
Starting with "Ares."
They'll do the deed in the co-main event of this Saturday night's (July 27, 2013) UFC on FOX 8: "Johnson vs. Moraga" network television broadcast, which emanates from the KeyArena in Seattle, Washington. The winner moves on to bigger and better things in the division while the loser, well, let's just say it will be a long time before they find themselves "in the mix."
To see Ellenberger's rise to power en route to UFC on FOX 8 click here.