By the time Carlos Condit made his World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) debut in early 2007, a first-round submission win over Kyle Jensen at WEC 25 in Las Vegas, "The Natural Born Killer" was already a 22-fight veteran of mixed martial arts (MMA).
And strangling the Minnesotan improved his record to 19-4.
Those credentials made it easy to see why he was selected to compete for the promotion's vacant welterweight title, despite having just one win under the WEC banner. That was one less than his opponent, John Alessio, who like Condit, was well traveled on the regional scene.
In addition, the Canadian had experience competing for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
At the time, MMA was still finding its identity. EliteXC was having success promoting a bearded brawler named Kimbo Slice, while Strikeforce was dominating the west coast scene with UFC export Frank Shamrock. PRIDE FC, though on life support, was gearing up for "Kamikaze."
As a result, UFC was not yet able to lay claim to all of the world's best fighters, so wearing gold in a rival promotion carried a significant amount of weight. This was also before Matt Serra turned the MMA world on its head with his monumental upset over Georges St. Pierre.
Welcome to MMA's version of the Oklahoma Land Rush.
Simply put, there was more at stake for Condit and Alessio than just a leather belt with some gold trim, particularly now that WEC was operating under the ZUFFA umbrella. Their championship bout was set for the main event of WEC 26 on March 24, 2007 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Here's what happened.
The opening minute of round one begins with a feeling out process. Kicks and punches are exchanged without much vigor. Alessio uses a tie-up to pick Condit up and slam him to the ground, drawing an exhilarated "Throwdown!" from cageside play-by-play man Todd Harris.
Condit bounces up, briefly takes control of the stand-up, but gets taken right back down.
That would be the pattern for the remainder of the round, which ended with Condit using his reach and slapping kicks to keep his opponent at bay. The second stanza unfolds with a touch of gloves, followed by more strikes from "The Natural Born Killer."
Alessio wants none of it and sends the fight south.
It takes Condit a minute to wrestle himself free and get back to his feet. Once he does, he's able to take control of the contest with his striking, which is slowly but surely demoralizing Alessio. So much so, that he cannot commit to his shot and ends up on his back via failed takedown.
"The Natural Born Killer" lives up to his moniker with punishing elbows from the top, but Alessio scoots back to his feet when his attacker postures up for the fatal blow. He's unable to find a reprieve, however, as Condit chases him down and unloads knees from the clinch.
Alessio lurches forward for a leg and gets rolled to the ground, stuck in a Kimura.
Condit lets it go in favor of raining down punches, forcing the battered Canadian to give up his back. Once he does, the future UFC interim titleholder sinks in a rear naked choke and draws a surrender from Alessio with just one second left in the round.
Meet Carlos Condit, your new WEC welterweight champion.
The Albuquerque native would finish his WEC career undefeated (5-0) with five stoppages before transitioning to the Octagon against Martin Kampmann at UFC Fight Night 18 in early 2009. Condit came up on the losing end of a razor-thin split decision before going on another 5-0 run.
Now, he has the opportunity to avenge his loss to "The Hitman."
They'll shoot it out in the main event of UFC Fight Night 27, which takes place on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana, live via FOX Sports 1. Only this time, they'll have five rounds of action to settle their score, instead of three.
Whether or not they'll need them, remains to be seen.