Tyron Woodley has dreamt of being a UFC champion ever since the first time he put on gloves and decided to become a mixed martial artist.
Now he can proudly proclaim himself the best welterweight in the world after a vicious first round knockout over Robbie Lawler capped off UFC 201 on Sunday (AEST).
Heading into the fight, Woodley dealt with a lot of questions about what kind of performance to expect after he sat out for the past 18 months while awaiting his shot at the belt.
As soon as the fight began, Woodley looked calm, cool and collected as he patiently stood in front of Lawler while looking for the perfect opening to uncork one of his signature power punches.
Woodley is well known for his aggressive attacks early, but he showed patience instead of power in the first minute as he stalked Lawler across the Octagon and only threw one really big punch that whizzed by his opponent's head.
The fighters broke from a brief clinch and rather than look for the takedown, Woodley leapt into a right hand that absolutely crushed Lawler's jaw and sent him crashing to the canvas like he just got blindsided by a truck on the highway.
The sheer force of the shot sent Lawler flying and Woodley wasted no time pouncing on his fallen opponent before unloading a series of quick, hard punches that left no doubt that the fight was over and he was going home with the title around his waist.
After the fight was over, Woodley admitted that he almost felt a little too composed in the back as he prepared to fight for a UFC title for the first time in his career, but it all paid off in the end as he landed a devastating knockout to become champion.
"I was in the back and I was relaxed. I've been extremely relaxed. I was nervous that I wasn't nervous. I knew what Robbie brought to the table. He's a tough competitor," Woodley said following the win.
"This is not the first fight I would pick. He's a friend of mine, I admire his career, hat's off to Robbie. But I've been envisioning this belt being around my waist my entire life. Ever since I stepped into the Octagon, I had this mission at stake so it feels amazing."
Woodley knew he had a wrestling advantage over Lawler coming into the fight, but he fully expected the veteran welterweight to be prepared for the takedown so he never really opted for a grappling attack.
Instead, Woodley decided to close the distance with punches instead of takedowns and the strategy paid off in a big way.
"We just knew Robbie would be well prepared for a takedown," Woodley said. "That he would be hitting me with knees and uppercuts and being aggressive to defend it. So I used a little speed and blitz to cover the gap and when I saw the opening, I went for the right hand.
"Something kept telling me the right hand was going to be open and I went for it."
The stoppage came at just 2:12 seconds into the first round as Woodley becomes the new welterweight champion. Woodley's win also signifies the seventh title to change hands in 2016 and with five months still to go, it's tough to tell who will be holding gold when the year comes to an end.
As for Lawler, he was clearly disappointed with the way things ended after such an incredible run as welterweight champion.
"It is what it is. He feinted me, my hand went down, he threw a punch over the top and caught me," Lawler said.
With Woodley now standing tall as champion, he'll have a long list of contenders vying for a chance at the belt with Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson as the most likely candidate after seven consecutive wins while quickly moving up the ranks in the welterweight division.
VICIOUS HEAD KICK KO
Nikita Krylov is quickly becoming one of the most talked about light heavyweights on the UFC roster following another stunning performance at UFC 201.
The Ukrainian fighter picked up another impressive victory as he crushed former Ultimate Fighter finalist Ed Herman with a vicious second round head kick to win his fifth fight in a row inside the Octagon.
Krylov has been making waves at 205 pounds, especially with his last three fights where he finished his opponents by submission in either the first or second rounds.
This time, Krylov decided to use his powerful kicks to hammer Herman throughout the first round before getting the knockout in the second.
Herman hung tough throughout the opening session as he fired back with big, looping punches while trying to catch Krylov in exchanges, but he never found the target for anything to do real damage.
On the flip side, Krylov constantly battered Herman about the head and body with a series of devastating kicks that quickly put momentum into his corner.
As the second round got underway, Krylov was on the attack from the moment the referee said go as he poured on the offence while trying to overwhelm Herman with strikes.
The game plan worked after Krylov nearly connected with a spinning back fist and then uncorked a hellish head kick that landed flush and sent Herman face first into the canvas.
The referee quickly swooped into stop the fight with Krylov being declared the winner 40 seconds into the second round.
Krylov is now 5-0 over his past five fights without any of those bouts going past the second round. Chances are Krylov will now get a chance to tackle a top 10 opponent and it will be interesting to see if the Ukrainian can pick up another big finish against stiffer competition.
Anthony Hamilton also warmed up the crowd at the fight night.
The 36-year-old pulled off the second fastest KO in UFC heavyweight history when he took just 14 seconds to floor Damian Grabowski in the fourth fight of the night.
The American unleashed a flurry of punches from close range to end the Pole's night and improve his MMA record to 15-5, living up his nickname of the "freight train" in the process.
"This is amazing to hear that was the second fastest knockout in heavyweight history. I can't even believe it," Hamilton said.
"I knew I needed to get better with my striking. I have a great boxing coach in Seattle, Robert Morrison. I have great coaches and training partners at Jackson-(Winkeljohn MMA gym) down in Albuquerque and that's a recipe for success."
In the preceding bout, Wilson Reis defeated Hector Sandoval via a rear naked choke with 1:49 remaining in the first round, making it the fastest submission in UFC flyweight history.
Reis wasted no time dragging the fight to the ground, using a beautiful trip takedown to put Sandoval on his back. Sandoval tried to scramble back to his feet but Reis was able to take Sandoval's back and use his exceptional BJJ to put an end to the fight instead.
Lightweight Damien Brown got the fight night off to a tremendous start when he finished opponent Cesar Arzamendia with a series of punches in their prelim bout.
Brown and Arzamendia started exchanged blows early and often, with each fighter scoring points on the feet in the opening 30 seconds. Less than a minute in, however, Brown caught Arzamendia with an overhand right that sent "Goku" crumbling to the canvas.
Arzamendia was able to recover - and even threatened with a heel hook - but Brown escaped and made his way back to his feet. Once the fight was standing again, Brown went back into attack mode, landing a counter right hand that put his opponent out on his feet before following up with yet another right hand.