In November of 2009, current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones was simply known as "that guy who suplexed Stephan Bonnar" at UFC 94.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Sure, "Bones" was 3-0 inside the Octagon, but his lone finish came by way of guillotine choke against Jake O'Brien at UFC 100. Undefeated Brazilian enigma, Lyoto Machida, was the reigning 205-pound kingpin, while Jones was just another name on a long list of up-and-coming prospects.
The press affectionately referred to him as "one to watch."
So too, was Swedish sensation Alexander Gustafsson. "The Mauler" had come to UFC by way of Stockholm, bouncing around the Scandinavian circuit and racking up wins over regional talent with a terrifying level of brutality. Six of his first eight wins came by way of knockout or technical knockout, five of them in the very first round.
Now, it was time to see what he could do in the big leagues.
Welcoming him to the ZUFFA rank-and-file was stateside slugger Jared Hamman. Like Gustafsson, "The Messenger" was cherry-picked by UFC after making a mockery of the local scene, compiling an 11-1 record with all 11 wins coming by way of knockout or submission.
Hamman referred to his sadistic style as "all fire."
The stage was set for their respective debuts on the preliminary card of the UFC 105: "Couture vs. Vera" event on Spike TV (via tape delay), which took place at the Manchester Evening News (MEN) Arena in Manchester, England, on Nov. 14, 2009.
Here's what happened.
A touch of gloves gets the action underway and Hamman comes barreling out of the gate with heavy leather, prompting a guttural outburst from UFC play-by-play man Mike Goldberg: "Oh! Overhand right early!" Color commentator Joe Rogan concurs.
"You can tell that dude has been training with (Antoni) Hardonk."
Gustafsson circles out of danger, but allows "The Messenger" to deliver him into the fence and land a looping right hand, followed by a wild combination. "The Mauler" slugs his way to safety, but inadvertently turns his opponent's dome into a bowling ball, drawing a break in the action for his accidental eye poke.
Referee Kevin Mulhall separates the fighters, checks on the wounded combatant, and resumes play.
A slap of hands translates to "sorry/no problem bro" and we're back at it. Before Hamman can get his bearings, Gustafsson uncorks a straight right hand that lands unabated and puts the future middleweight on his ass. A few follow-up punches to seal the deal and that's a wrap.
The official time is 0:41 of the opening frame.
Gustafsson would be tripped up in his sophomore effort by fellow 205-pound rising star Phil Davis, but quickly recovered, assembling a torrid six-fight winning streak with four finishes. His last stop on the road to the title comes in the main event of UFC 165.
Where the most dangerous man in all of mixed martial arts (MMA) awaits.
Jones has agreed to give "The Mauler" the opportunity to figure out how to break "Bones" in the main event of their pay-per-view (PPV) title fight, which takes place at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 21, 2013. Gustafsson, by his own admission, has never been afraid of performance anxiety.
Then again, he's never had to face anyone the likes of "Bones."