Home favourite Ciryl Gane stopped Serghei Spivac in the second round at UFC Paris, setting up a potential bout with Britain's Tom Aspinall.
Aspinall, 30, was cage-side to watch the heavyweight contest at the Accor Arena after targeting a fight with the winner.
After outclassing Spivac on the feet, Gane said he would face whoever he has to to earn another title shot.
"My mission, whoever it is, is to go forward and get the belt," said Gane.
"I failed at getting the belt but that's what I'm going to do going forward."
Former interim champion Gane, 33, was competing in his first fight since defeat to Jon Jones for the undisputed belt in March.
Aspinall returned from a year out with a serious knee injury in July, stopping Marcin Tybura in the first round, and has called to face the winner of Gane and Spivac as a means of earning a title shot against Jones.
Spivac, meanwhile, came into the fight having won three bouts since defeat to Aspinall in 2021, with the 28-year-old targeting a win over Gane to mark the most significant moment of his career so far.
The Moldovan was largely outclassed, however, as Gane's superior striking and elegant movement allowed him to land an array of shots without being countered or taken down.
With Gane landing jabs to the face, leg kicks, front kicks and knees to the body, the damage accumulated in the second round, causing Spivac to retreat to the cage.
That allowed Gane to tee off at will and, with Spivac offering little defence, the referee stepped in to end the contest.
"The last one [against Jones] was tough but I'm so glad to be back here in front of you," added Gane.
"You know my last fight was [bad], but today I'm still here and I proved [it]."
In the co-main event, France's Manon Fiorot beat American Rose Namajunas by unanimous decision.
Former two-time strawweight champion Namajunas moved up to flyweight for the bout in her quest to become a two-division champion, but was narrowly out-struck by Fiorot, who extends her impressive win streak to 10.
Namajunas' game plan was also hindered after she appeared to break the little finger of her right hand in the first round.
Following the bout, Fiorot called to face the winner of the flyweight title bout between champion Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko on 16 September.
"Absolutely, I'm the one who can take these champions and I deserve a shot at being the champion," said Fiorot.
McKee and Loughran lose decisions
Elsewhere, Ballymena's Rhys McKee suffered a unanimous decision defeat on his UFC return to the Democratic Republic of Congo's Ange Loosa.
Welterweight McKee, 27, was cut from the promotion in 2020 following back-to-back defeats to Khamzat Chimaev and Alex Morono.
But he regrouped, winning three successive fights in UK-based promotion Cage Warriors to earn a second chance in the UFC.
However, the 29-year-old's return did not go to plan as Loosa utilised his superior grappling to sway all three judges.
Loosa started quickly, unloading a big right hand and landing a takedown but McKee settled into the fight as the round wore on, utilising his height to land jabs and leg kicks.
But the significant moment came in the second round as Loosa secured another takedown and landed a flurry of punches.
Knowing he likely needed a finish in the final round to win, and sporting a swollen eye, McKee rallied towards the end of fight as Loosa appeared to tire, but it wasn't enough.
Tyrone's Caolan Loughran, making his UFC debut, also suffered a unanimous decision loss to home favourite Taylor Lapilus.
Loughran, 27, was originally scheduled to fight Yanis Ghemmour but got matched with 31-year-old Lapilus in a late reshuffle.
He was the aggressor throughout the the majority of the fight but was out-struck in a display of slick counter-punching from Lapilus.
Loughran, who was booed throughout the bout after criticising French MMA in the build-up to the event, continuously looked for takedowns, the majority of which were snuffed out by the popular Lapilus.
In defeat Loughran, who like McKee is a former champion in Cage Warriors, loses the eight-fight unbeaten start to his career.
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