He dared to be great, but Alex Volkanovski's shot at redemption lasted less than a round in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
In a bout in which he gave away every possible pre-fight advantage to much-vaunted lightweight champion Islam Makhachev, Volkanovski never got going before he was felled by a brutal head kick from at 3.06 seconds of round number one.
The reigning champion followed up with a barrage of strikes that saw the fight called, and set the pro-Makhachev crowd alight.
It came after Volkanovski answered the call just 12 days' out from the walk to the octagon, dropping a staggering 12 kilos in 11 days to make the 155-pound limit.
It left many questions as to whether he could fight-out a five-round point, but the point was rendered moot by the left leg of Makhachev.
"It was just obviously a great set up, a good kick," Volkanovski said in the octagon.
"He probably seen something [from last fight] but it's hard, I don't like losing. It hurts me, but he's a great champion, what do you do?
"I back myself every single time and I still stand by that, always back yourself.
"Islam's one man that you don't want to back yourself [against] if you don't prepare properly because look what he can do to you. That's how good he is.
"Credit to Islam, it was great kick, what do you say?"
It was vindication for Makhachev who had his championship bona fides questioned following a razor-thin decision win over Volkanovski in Perth in February.
On this occasion the Aussie ventured to the Dagestani's home away from home and came up short, not landing a significant strike before getting caught.
It takes Makhachev to 25-1 , while Volkanovski falls to 26-3, the stoppage loss his first in the UFC and first since 2013 while fighting at welterweight.
It was bitterly disappointing outcome for Wollongong's fighting pride, who immediately stated a preference to get back in the cage in January for a pre-scheduled bout with rising Georgian-Spanish star Ilia Topuria in a defence of his featherweight title.
"I just want to say to the UFC, please keep me busy," Volkanovski said.
"My job here (at lightweight) is done for now. I'm happy to go back in January and obviously get this [cut] taken care of. I'll obviously go back down to featherweight.
"I don't do well when I'm not fighting. I needed to take this fight because I do my head in when I'm not fighting, so keep me busy, that's all I can say."
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