Urijah Faber waited 18 months for another shot at Renan Barao.
But the opportunity came and went in less than one round.
In what appeared to be an early stoppage, Barao swarmed Faber and retained the UFC bantamweight championship in the main event of UFC 169 on Saturday night.
Barao, who dominated the fight from the outset, dropped Faber with a gigantic right hand late in the first round.
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Faber was on the ground on his hands and knees and covering his head with his left hand as Barao landed punches. Faber gave referee Herb Dean a thumbs up with his right hand, but Dean stopped the bout at 3:42. Faber immediately popped up after the stoppage.
"I hit him with the right hand, I saw that he was groggy and I went in with punches," Barao (32-1, 1 NC) said through an interpreter.
The win put a cap on an odd sequence of events over recent weeks. Barao defeated Faber to win the interim title via decision at UFC 149. He defended the title twice as champion Dominick Cruz rehabbed a knee injury. Barao and Cruz were scheduled to fight at this event, but a groin injury by Cruz caused him to pull out of the fight and get stripped of the title. Faber, who beat Michael McDonald in in December, stepped in and took Cruz's spot.
"A little bit," Barao said when he was asked where he was surprised by the stoppage. "I fought Urijah before I knew he was going to be a tough fighter and this was a tough fight."
Minus a no-contest, Barao has won 32 consecutive fights since dropping his first career bout. Faber (32-7) has lost his past six title fights.
Faber was frustrated, but took the high road in defeat.
"It's very frustrating, I'm one of the most durable guys in the world, he told me to do something, I gave him a thumbs up right before he stopped it. Herb is one of the best referees in the business, he's looking to protect us out there."