The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix winner wasn't even in the field when the tournament began.
Daniel Cormier, considered a prospect in need of more seasoning when the tourney began, announced himself as a rising power on the world scene, smashing through Josh Barnett in cruising to a five-round decision win. Two judges scored it 50-45 while the third scored it 49-46.
By the end of the one-sided fight, Barnett's face was covered in his own blood, and his right eye was black and blue.
"I just want to focus on the fact I just beat Josh Barnett," an emotional Cormier said afterward. "One year ago, that's not something I thought I could do."
Cormier got out of the blocks quickly, confidently unleashing his striking while targeting multiple spots on Barnett. He easily out-struck Barnett, with the veteran's only shining moment of the opening frame coming with a straight right in the closing seconds.
Unfortunately for Barnett, he hurt his left hand in the same round, saying he broke it while landing a left hook.
"It was killing me but there was no way I was going to stop fighting," said Barnett, who fell to 31-6 after having his eight-fight win streak snapped. "I was going make him earn this."
He did. Cormier rarely found himself in trouble, with the only moment of doubt coming in the fourth, when he had to escape a heel hook attempt. Aside from that it was practically all Cormier, who had a pair of highlight reel slams to go with his striking diversity and power.
In both the second and third rounds, Cormier had Barnett in major trouble after battering him with strikes. Barnett survived each round, but could do little else.
Cormier is now a perfect 10-0 in his young career. He will have to fight one more time in Strikeforce before moving over to the UFC. Providing he wins that bout in the interim, he should become an instant contender.
Barnett faces a murkier future, but given his game performance and a thawed relationship with UFC president Dana White, he's likely to be brought over as well.
Before Saturday night, the longtime veteran Barnett had only lost bouts to a prime Pedro Rizzo, a prime Mirko Cro Cop, and a near-prime Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Add Cormier to that list now, as he became the surprise Grand Prix champ.