Every young prospect undergoes their trial by fire against a cagey veteran on their way up the ladder.
Saturday night was Thomas Almeida's turn. And did he ever pass his test with flying colors.
The 23-year old, undefeated Chute Boxe fighter stepped into the Octagon at the MGM Grand Garden Arena to meet the always-tough Brad Pickett, who was making his return to bantamweight.
Pickett got the best of the first round in their UFC 189 bout, breaking Almeida's nose in the process.
And then Almeida showed what he's made of.
Almeida dropped Pickett with a picture-perfect, knockout-of-the-year candidate knee to the jaw for the victory at 29 seconds of the second round, improving to 20-0.
"It was very important for my career," Almeida said through an interpreter. "I'm here to stay."
Pickett dropped his third straight fight, the past two coming at flyweight. But his performance suggested he still belongs in he UFC.
Almeida showed Pickett respect in his post-fight interview.
"I had a very tough opponent," Almeida said. "Brad is a very tough guy, it took me a little while to get into the fight but when it did I handled it."