Referring to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as the world's top mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion is easy, considering its only "competition" is Bellator MMA, which operates under the Viacom banner on Spike TV.
But that wasn't always the case.
Back in May of 2008, EliteXC was pulling 6.5 million "Primetime" eyeballs on CBS, thanks to the drawing power of backyard brawler and combat sports phenomenon Kimbo Slice. In fact, the promotion was doing so well under the supervision of boxing import Gary Shaw, network executives hastily assembled a follow up show titled "Unfinished Business."
The name referred to the rematch between Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith, who saw their first 185-pound title fight end in a no contest thanks to an accidental thumb to the eye. "Ruthless" was the reigning middleweight champion, while Antonio Silva and K.J. Noons held gold in the heavyweight and lightweight classes, respectively.
Now it was time to crown a welterweight king.
The obvious choice was local and international veteran Jake Shields, who in the midst of a nine-fight unbeaten streak, captured a pair of wins for EliteXC by kicking the crap out of Renato Verissimo at "Uprising," prior to his first-round submission victory over future UFC 170-pounder, Mike Pyle, at "Renegade."
And his competition had been just as impressive.
Stepping up to the plate after his original opponent, Drew Fickett, pulled out due to injury, was former UFC and Bodog Fight standout Nick Thompson. "The Goat" was sporting a ridiculous 20-1 record since mid-2005 and had not tasted defeat in 12 straight fights.
It was supposed to be a hotly-contested battle for the division strap inside California's Stockton Arena on July 26, 2008.
Except it wasn't.
"No secret here, Frank, as this one is going to the ground ... quickly," remarked CBS play-by-play man Gus Johnson, who was dead-on in his prediction. Shields was able to secure full mount in less than 30 seconds, following an initial takedown.
30 seconds after that, the fight was over.
The American Jiu-Jitsu black belt ended the promotion's first-ever welterweight title fight with a well-placed guillotine, the same one he used to finish Lawler when both combatants made their Strikeforce debuts less than a year later, thanks to the dissolution of EliteXC.
Shields finished his tenure at 4-0, defending his title with a first-round armbar against British banger Paul Daley prior to watching his boss go belly-up. He would also enjoy a 3-0 run under the Strikeforce banner, turning away Dan Henderson in spring of 2010.
It's not until he stumbled in his UFC title fight against Georges St. Pierre that he would taste defeat for the first time in nearly seven years across a span of 15 professional fights. Following his loss to "Rush," Shields went 2-1 with one no contest and now once again finds himself on the main card for network television.
He's booked to throw down against fellow ex-middleweight Demian Maia at UFC Fight Night 29, which takes place on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at Jose Correa Gymnasium in Barueri, Brazil. There will be no title on the line on this night overseas, but defeating a top contender like Maia is bound to put him back into contention.
For more on UFC Fight Night 29 click here.