The UFC championship eluded his grasp yet again, the third time in less than three years that Urijah Faber came out on the short end.
Counting his days in the World Extreme Cagefighting organization, that's six title-fight losses in a row, a streak that some might think tags him as the Washington Generals of mixed martial arts.
Nothing could be further from the truth, but each fight card that passes without Dana White buckling that gaudy gold strap around his waist increases the likelihood that Faber will never get it.
Part of what makes him great, however, is that he'll never buy that. He has that utter belief in himself as well as the championship work ethic and so he believes all he needs is one more chance.
"For those who know me, I don't consider this my last chance, by any means," Faber said.
About an hour or so earlier, he'd been stopped by Renan Barao in their bout for the bantamweight title in the main event of UFC 169 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Faber had an argument this time around.
He was rocked and dropped twice by Barao right hands. The second time Faber was down, his left arm was curled around Barao's right leg, and his left hand was covering his ear.
Barao was firing punches, looking for the finish, but most of the punches were hitting the glove. Referee Herb Dean, widely regarded as the best in the world, told Faber to do something.
Faber responded by giving a thumbs up sign with his right thumb. But Dean couldn't see it and almost instantaneous with Faber shooting his thumb skyward to signify he was OK, Dean stepped in and stopped it.
Of course, it provoked outrage on social media, but it was one of those calls where Dean was damned if he did and damned if he didn't.
The No. 1 goal of a referee is fighter safety, and it doesn't matter if it is in a preliminary bout or a world title bout. If the referee thinks the fighter is in danger of being seriously injured, it's his duty to stop the match.
Dean couldn't see Faber's thumb. He knew that Barao had twice badly hurt Faber and knocked him down. He saw Faber in a difficult position, with Faber's only option really to wait Barao out.
Though the punches were mostly blocked, Faber had been buzzed twice in a matter of a few seconds and those punches can still be felt through the gloves.
Thinking of that, Dean stopped it. White, perhaps his staunchest ally, disagreed.
"The guy is the best in the business as far as I'm concerned, but tonight he made a mistake," White said of Dean.
Had Dean let the fight go on and had Barao landed cleanly with one of his next several shots, Dean would have been excoriated for allowing Faber to take unnecessary damage.
That would have been the worst possible scenario. So, this was one of those nightmare situations where there is virtually no right answer.
Faber was incredibly gracious, both in the cage immediately after the bout and later at the post-fight news conference. He recalled his first career loss, at Gladiator Challenge 42 on Sept. 10, 2005, when he was stopped by Tyson Griffin five seconds into the third round.
He went flying out of the ring in the first round and banged his head on a steel bar.
The referee? Herb Dean.
Faber, though, knew Dean was only trying to protect him and so while he was disappointed, he showed class and did not blast him.
He joked that when he went onto the Fox television set for an interview, the picture on the screen was blurry. He asked if anyone else noticed it, worrying for a second he might have been hit harder than he thought.
That kind of class and friendly byplay, as well as his extraordinary talent, is why Faber is so popular with the UFC fan base.
But it's not his popularity that gets him title shots. He wins on a regular basis and has torn through most of the best at 135.
For a variety of reasons, he has come up short in title fights. It wasn't looking good for him Saturday after Barao connected, bad stoppage or not.
But Faber understands that all it takes is a series of wins over top opponents and he'll get another shot.
"It is a fact that I haven't had the UFC belt yet," Faber said. "I came into this sport at a time when there wasn't a weight class for my division in the UFC. It's not like I've never won a title fight before. I just haven't gotten the UFC belt and I plan on doing that.
"So, this is another chance. Till I'm off the planet, I'm going to keep trying for the things I want. That's how I roll."
Throughout sports, there are Hall of Famers who haven't won world championships: Ted Williams and Ernie Banks in baseball; Dan Marino and Jim Kelly in football; Karl Malone and Elgin Baylor in basketball; Marcel Dionne and Jean Ratelle in hockey.
Faber is in the midst of putting together a Hall of Fame resume, and he's got the kind of single-mindedness of purpose that he'll fight his way back and force the UFC's hand.
Bet on him getting another title opportunity.
He's 34 now and will be 35, perhaps 36, before he gets another shot.
He may never win that belt he covets so much. That can be debated and is still to be determined.
What isn't debatable is Faber's talent. He has been, and will remain for the foreseeable future, one of the UFC's elite talents.
Title fight record be damned, Urijah Faber is an MMA superstar.