In a wide-open UFC welterweight division, South Korean Dong Hyun Kim is making his move.
Kim (19-2-1) looked nothing like the technical grinder he's been throughout the majority of his 10-year career, turning his bout against John Hathaway at TUF China finale in Macau, China into a wild brawl.
The strategy ultimately produced a good result, as Kim landed a devastating spinning back elbow 1:02 into the third round for a knockout win.
The finish might even top his last performance -- a one-punch knockout over Erick Silva in October.
"There's no stopping," said Kim, on his suddenly aggressive style. "I'm going to continue to come forward, forward, forward."
That was obviously the game plan against Hathaway (17-2), who was fighting for the first time in 17 months.
From the instant referee Leon Roberts started the fight, Kim was on him, and even nodded any time the Brit connected during an exchange. He hurt Hathaway within the first 15 seconds of the fight, coming over the top with a right hand to Hathaway's temple that had him staggered.
Hathaway responded by securing a bodylock takedown, but Kim bounced up and continued to move forward. Hathaway managed to adapt and settle down following the initial -- perhaps unexpected -- onslaught. He perfectly timed several hard knees to Kim's midsection and started ducking out of the way of Kim haymakers. Hathaway opened up with high elbow strikes on the inside.
Late in the second round, Kim secured his only takedown of the fight -- something that, until recently, he's been mostly known for. He appeared to have some advantage on the ground, as he passed into side control before the end of the round.
That late grappling success did not discourage him to change course in the next frame, however, as he went back to putting his head down and plodding forward with non-stop, often wild strikes.
The constant pressure was eventually too much for Hathaway to deal with. He attempted to back Kim off with an elbow but came up short, which opened the window for Kim's highlight-reel finish.
"I can not tell you how happy I am," Kim said. "I think I draw energy from all the fans from Korea who are here -- all the Asian fans."
Kim has now won four in a row, including finishes in his last two fights. He is 10-2 in since signing with the UFC in 2008, with losses to Demian Maia and Carlos Condit. His wins include victories over Nate Diaz, TJ Grant and Matt Brown.
Lipeng crowned as TUF: China winner
The first-ever Chinese edition of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series crowned a champion in Zhang Lipeng.
Lipeng (7-7-1) defeated Wang Sai via split decision. Two judges saw the bout the same, 29-28 for Lipeng. A third turned in a puzzling score of 30-27 for Sai.
The bout was close and seemingly came down to how the second round was scored. Lipeng consistently put himself in dominant positions, only to allow Sai (6-5-1) to escape. The numerous scrambles had an effect on Lipen's gas tank late in the fight.
Midway through the first round, Lipeng ducked under a Sai combination and scored his first takedown. He quickly took Sai's back in the center of the cage and slipped his left arm under the chin for the rear-naked choke.
Sai manged to survive, however, and eventually took top position by turning into Lipeng's guard.
In the second round, Sai was warned for throwing an illegal knee to the head of a downed opponent, as he held Lipeng in a front headlock near the cage. Lipeng took advantage of the situation when he scored a takedown off the restart.
For all his successful takedowns, however, Lipeng failed to control Sai on the ground and looked exhausted late. Sai sprawled on a weak double leg in the third round and scored points from top position before a late standup by referee Jerin Valel.
Zhang officially ends a two-fight losing streak he rode into the TUF competition.
Mitrione manhandles Jordan
Unpolished heavyweight Matt Mitrione has struggled at times to match the talent level of the UFC. This was not one of those times.
Mitrione (7-3), whose fighting career got off to a late start following a run in pro football, scored the sixth knockout of his career with a win over Shawn Jordan with one second remaining in the first round.
A short flurry by Mitrione off the clinch initially stunned Jordan (15-6). He tried to hide it and calmly circle out, but Mitrione walked him down and unloaded a combination of punches with Jordan's back to the fence.
Jordan was nearly saved by the bell, but he collapsed from a final left hand to the chin, which prompted referee Dan Miragliotta to step in at the 4:59 mark.
"I didn't want to force the knockout. I just had to let it come," Mitrione said.
The round was relatively even up to that point. Facing a significant height disadvantage, Jordan seemed happy to let his opponent close the distance for him, as Mitrione wasn't shy about darting in with the jab and straight lefts.
The physicality of Mitrione showed up in the final sequence, however, as his ability to move Jordan in the clinch opened an opportunity to land the short flurry. It's the fourth time Jordan has been knocked out in his career.
Mitrione scores his second first-round knockout in his last three fights. He suffered a submission loss to Brendan Schaub in his previous appearance at UFC 165.
Hioki bounces back; outpoints Menjivar
Hioki (27-7-2), who actually turned down a UFC title shot in 2012, outclassed Menjivar on the ground and survived a right hand knockdown in the third round en route to the decision. All three judges scored the bout or Hioki, 29-28.
The fight appeared to be headed towards a finish multiple times in the first two rounds. Hioki took the back of a standing Menjivar in the opening minutes, where he looked to tap the veteran via rear-naked choke.
Menjivar (25-12) eventually escaped but would surrender his back again later in the round after a Hioki takedown. By the end of the fight, Hioki had taken Menjivar's back three times, but couldn't quite secure a finish.
After Hioki dominated on the floor again in the second round, Menjivar scored his best moment in the third when he connected on a counter right hand. Hioki popped up quickly from the knockdown, but suffered a cut near his hairline in the ensuing exchange, which bled into his right eye the rest of the round.
The win is Hioki's first since February 2012, when he outpointed now-retired Bart Palaszewski. He improves to 3-3 overall in the UFC. Menjivar suffers his third consecutive loss.