Alas, there was to be no grandstand finale by an ageing, battle-scarred warrior.
And when the end arrived, it was ruthless, swift and decisive.
It took ice-cool submission specialist Shinya Aoki, 29, barely two rounds to see off his elder Japanese compatriot Kotetsu "No Face" Boku, in the main event of the ONE FC Kings and Champions at the Indoor Stadium on Friday night.
Aoki displayed superior grappling that knockout specialist Boku simply had no answer to.
And when the coup de grace arrived in the fourth minute of Round Two, it was hardly a surprise.
For much of the first round, Aoki wasted no time in grappling his opponent to the ground. Several times, he flirted with victory but Boku, all 35 years of him, defended remarkably against the submission skills of his fitter, younger cage opponent.
But in the second round, in the midst of another long drawn-out grappling melee, Aoki moved effortlessly into a rear naked choke in a sweeping transition that caught Boku by surprise. Feeling the life being squeezed out of him by the neck, Boku tapped out, conceding. And that was that.
With the deed done, Aoki lay for a moment on the canvas beside his vanquished opponent, arms outstretched in victory before quickly standing up, arms raised in victory as he marched around the cage before pointing to his EVOLVE gym stable-mates as if to say, "This one's for you".
In so doing, Aoki gained a measure of sweet revenge for his stablemate Zorobabel Moreira, who was defeated by Boku in a stunning knockout last October.
It was hard to understand the significance or the strength of the EVOLVE team ethos until Aoki, in the post-fight interview, simple broke down, speechless, unable to emote or express what this victory meant for him and his team-mates.
In the co-main event of the evening, American Brock Larson had to survive adversity to emerge victorious by unanimous decision after his Dutch opponent. Melvin Manhoef nearly finished the fight in the first round with his signature kicks that clearly rocked Larson.
Larson came back strong in the second round and ended the round with a tight armbar.
Larson came on strong in the third round and neutralized Manhoef’s striking with superior grappling and relentless ground and pound.
The judges unanimously awarded Larson the decision victory.
In other fights, Hong Kong's Eddie Ng came out on top in his grudge fight against Frenchman Arnaud Lepont, winning by an armbar submission, while Pakistan's Bashir Ahmad won on points against his Thai opponent Shannon Wiratchai.
Singapore's only representative on the night, Ronald Low, lost after the referee stopped the fight against Malaysia's Chen Yun Ting in the first round.
List of complete results
- Shinya Aoki defeats Kotetsu Boku by submission via rear naked choke at 4:04 minutes of round 2
- Brock Larson defeats Melvin Manhoef by unanimous decision at 5:00 minutes of round 3
- Masakatsu Ueda defeats Jens Pulver by d’arce submission at 3:52 minutes of round 2
- Kevin Belingon defeats Thanh Vu by referee stoppage due to strikes at 1:00 minutes of round 2
- Eddie Ng defeats Arnaud Lepont by armbar submission at 4:45 minutes of round 2
- Leandro Issa defeats Yusup Saadulaev by decision at 5:00 minutes of round 3
- Alex Silva defeats Rene Catalan by armbar submission at 4:34 minutes of round 1
- Bashir Ahmad defeats Shannon Wiratchai by decision at 5:00 minutes of round 3
- Jake Butler defeats Swain Cangco by submission at 2:52 minutes of round 1
- Chen Yun Ting defeats Singapore's Ronald Low by referee stoppage due to strikes at 3:58 minutes of round 1