For the better part of a round and change, the UFC 204 co-main event between middleweights Gegard Mousasi and Vitor Belfort seemed like a placeholder, an exercise for the crowd to simply endure before the main event.
And then Mousasi sprung to life.
The 31-year-old former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion rocked Belfort with a big head kick, which led to a violent finish. Mousasi scored the TKO victory at Manchester Arena at 2:43 of the second round as he won for the fifth time in his past six fights.
"He's a legend, it's an honor fighting him, he's a nice guy and a great athlete," Mousasi said of his foe.
After the head kick, Mousasi swarmed Belfort along the fence, unleashing an absolute torrent of punches. While that didn't finish the fight, Mousasi didn't lose focus. He took Mousasi down and continued to rain down punches before refereee Marc Goddard finally stepped in and waved it off.
"He's very good with his left kick but I can do the same," said Mousasi (40-6-2) "He can do it, and I thought I can do it, too."
Belfort (25-13), the 39-year-old former UFC light heavyweight champion, has dropped two straight and three of four.