Constantinos Philippou had no choice but to return to the Ring of Combat (ROC) mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion in late 2010 after failing to capitalize on his golden ticket that at first glance, was expected to grant him access to a career in the big leagues.
But expectation, as it so often does, breeds disappointment.
Philippou won a spot on the 32-man roster for season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), which would have granted him the opportunity to train under UFC hall of famer Chuck Liddell, or perhaps "The Iceman's" bitter rival, Tito Ortiz. The only thing standing between him and a spot in the TUF house was a bearded brawler name Joe Henle.
And the Cypriot looked to be in full control of their elimination bout throughout the opening frame. "Henle's getting killed the entire fight," UFC President Dana White later explained. "Literally getting dominated by Constantinos. Second round, Henle ends up pulling off an armbar."
Philippou could do nothing but shake his head in disgust.
The loss sent him back to the regional circuit where he would get off to a shaky start against Marcus Finch, after an errant kick to the pills ended in a "no contest" midway through the fight. Undaunted, the former boxer rebounded with a technical knockout win over Aung La Nsang.
Then came the most dangerous test of his budding combat sports career.
Waiting to face him at Ring of Combat 34, which took place on Feb. 4, 2011, inside the Tropicana Resort & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, was a dynamic young striker named Uriah Hall. While the Tiger Schulmann-product was coming off a loss to Chris Weidman, it was no secret that "All American" was the promotion's brightest star.
And Hall would be looking to make a statement.
The fight was nearly over before it even began, thanks to a pair of unintentional fouls. After Philippou drove his foot straight into his opponent's ball bag, Hall was nearly blinded with an accidental thumb to the eye. The future TUF 17 runner-up was able to shake it off and soldier on (and land a few fouls of his own).
To no avail.
Philippou survived a late surge in the final frame to win a majority decision, boosting his record to 7-1-1. That, coupled with his performance in his TUF 11 audition, was enough to earn "The Cyprus Slugger" a second shot at making it as a UFC fighter.
There was just one catch.
His first appearance inside the Octagon was just five days away. But with the understanding that he would get a follow-up fight in defeat, Philippou replaced Dan Miller against Nick Catone at UFC 128 and went down on points; however, he was eventually able to find his footing and rattled off five straight wins.
With a UFC record of 5-2, it's now time to find out if he's a contender ... or pretender.
To do so, Philippou will have to get past former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold in the main event of UFC Fight Night 35, which takes place this Wednesday night (Jan. 15, 2014) inside Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia, live on FOX Sports 1.
Henle, meanwhile, lost his next TUF fight and was never seen 'round these parts again.