Ben Henderson had finally hit rock bottom.
Everything was going swimmingly for the Arizonian. Not only was he the proud owner of a 10-fight winning streak, "Smooth" had also captured the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) lightweight title, disposing of Jamie Varner in the same way that he rid himself of Donald Cerrone.
Then came that damn "Showtime" kick.
Henderson was upended by Anthony Pettis in the most celebrated highlight reel of 2010 (and maybe even of all time), in what would be the promotion's final mixed martial arts (MMA) event, following its 2006 acquisition by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
His dream of graduating to UFC and unifying the division titles, was no more.
In addition, Henderson was thrown into general population when it came to the lightweight melting pot. His body of work in WEC was enough to secure him a spot on the UFC 129 pay-per-view (PPV) event, but it would be against fellow middle-of-the-pack'r, Mark Bocek.
Which meant a victory would get him back into the win column ... and not much else.
That's not to suggest the Canadian would be a sacrificial lamb. He was the hometown favorite and one of the division's most talented grapplers. And curtain-jerking the "St. Pierre vs. Shields" event meant following Rory MacDonald, who had the Rogers Centre on its feet with his slam-a-thon against Nate Diaz.
Which explains why Bendo was nearly booed out of the building in round three.
Nevertheless, Henderson did exactly what he needed to do and that's win. It was ugly at times, but effective, and his ability to turn away Bocek on all three scorecards set him on a course for greatness, starting with an emphatic win over top contender Jim Miller, followed by a three-round laugher against Clay Guida.
The same "Carpenter" who eliminated Anthony Pettis from the title picture.
That paved the way for Henderson's second coming, which he capitalized on by claiming consecutive wins over Frankie Edgar. One earned him the 155-pound title, the other kept it for him. It eventually returned to its rightful owner, once Pettis got himself back into fighting shape, but that hasn't stopped "Smooth" from chasing after it one more time.
Rock bottom hasn't stopped him before.
His latest quest begins with Josh Thomson, who knows a thing or two about championships, as well as losing them to a bitter rival. His trilogy with Gilbert Melendez helped define an era in Strikeforce and "The Punk" is also looking for one last chance to shine.
More on his "history" here.
But who moves on and who fades away won't be determined until the curtain falls at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, when "Henderson vs. Thomson" headlines this Saturday's (Jan. 25, 2014) UFC on FOX 10 event, one that will serve as both the beginning -- as well as the end -- for one man's pursuit of perfection.
See you in "The Windy City."