Rashad Evans had a priceless opportunity at UFC 156 to leapfrog surging contender Chris Weidman and take the inside track for a showdown with middleweight champ Anderson Silva.
But with the stage set to face the sport's pound-for-pound kingpin, "Suga" simply couldn't deliver.
Underdog Antônio Rogério Nogueira outshined Suga at UFC 156, nixing the idea of a Silva vs. Evans superfight and solidifying the notion that Weidman should get the next crack at the middleweight belt.
"Not only does he want to come back and fight the best of all time. He said, 'I'll smash this guy. I'll fight him in Brazil and I'll give him the rematch in Madison Square Garden.' So he's pretty confident with that fight."
Evans certainly had a promising path to reaching Silva, although few expected his discouraging showing against "Little Nog."
It was a lethargic affair, but Nogueira not only outstruck Evans 40-22, he also stuffed four of Suga's five takedown attempts, including four in a row in the last two rounds.
On the mend from a shoulder injury and cognizant that Evans could have stolen his title shot, Weidman undoubtedly rejoiced at Lil Nog's upset.
The former two-time All-American wrestler at Hofstra University has plowed through his first nine opponents with relative ease, winning three times by knockout and three times by submission.
Weidman essentially positioned himself for a run at the title in July by battering Mark Munoz at UFC on Fuel TV 4. Weidman then seemingly suffered a major injury at just the right time.
Weidman's first stroke of luck came when the man who's ranked second in most middleweight rankings, Chael Sonnen, agreed to take on Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title.
Things got even juicier for Weidman at UFC on FX 7 as Vitor Belfort took out Michael Bisping, a man White previously claimed to be one win away from squaring off with Silva.
So instead of locking horns with Tim Boetsch, which Weidman was slated to do before suffering a shoulder injury, "The All-American" now appears destined to meet The Spider.
Like many other blessed former contenders, Weidman will bypass any additional stepping-stone fights and take the shortcut to fighting Silva. The same door that just closed for Bisping and Evans has just swung open for Weidman.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!