The last time Edmonton's Victor Valamaki took an extended break from the octagon, he found himself fast-tracked to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) six months later.
Repeating that feat remains his career goal, but in hindsight, Valamaki wishes his first UFC experience had turned out differently.
"I felt a little bit rushed the last time coming back and I had a game plan of wanting to get to the UFC within two years," the man known as 'The Matrix' said prior to stopping Nick Hinchliffe in the main event on last night's King of the Cage: Excalibur MMA card at Rexall Place.
"I went from not fighting, to getting the call to the UFC - and you can't turn down a call from the UFC," he added.
Before last night, Valamaki's last appearance on a local MMA card was 11 months ago when he lost his MFC light heavyweight title to Halifax native Roger Hollett.
Afterwards he severed ties with his former manager and MFC owner Mark Pavelich.
Shortly after the loss to Hollett, Valamaki tore an abdominal muscle and couldn't do a sit-up for close to two months.
His time away from the MMA spotlight has allowed him to reflect on his career.
He admits that during his MFC title reign, he at times lacked focus and was burning himself out with too many fights in quick succession.
Valamaki holds an 0-2 record in the UFC, and an 11-5 career record after last night's win. His UFC contract wasn't renewed after he lost to Alessio Sakara at UFC 70.
"I want to get back to the UFC, but I want to take my time," he said.
"I am in no hurry at all. If it takes me a year or two, so be it. I just want to make an impact."
Valamaki admits that his relationship with Pavelich hasn't mended over the past year - and he's through with fighting in the MFC.
"Not to bad-mouth anybody, but we just didn't see eye-to-eye on quite a few things and there were some personality conflicts and some money problems," said Valamaki.
"I just found it better to go elsewhere, and I honestly think it's the best thing that both Mark and I could have done.
"No matter what I think of Mark, he runs a great show. He is very organized and he runs the biggest show in Edmonton right now. I have never seen someone work as hard as him.
"I don't hold a grudge all that much, but I know Mark does.
"I am not his biggest fan by any means, but I have let it all go. I've walked past him at events, but it seems like his shoelaces are untied every time I see him."
Valamaki has four more fights lined up for the rest of 2008.
There has been talk about a possible rematch with Hollett, who has been dealing with some injury problems of his own after beating Valamaki last August.
"That fight might take place in the fall in Halifax, which is his hometown," said Valamaki. "I want a crack at him again. My head wasn't into it the first time, I was a little burnt out. I got caught with a thumb in the eye and that made a difference."
In the meantime, Valamaki is just focused on the small steps to get his career back to where it was last year.
"This break has been good; I've got the fire back and I've been training harder than I ever have," he said.