Every fighter in the UFC, whether champion, legend or debutant, has to start somewhere. That somewhere usually isn’t the big show. Occasionally, multiple future stars end up gathered on a single regional card. At the time, this card may not seem significant, but years down the road, we can look back in hindsight and marvel at how stacked that event turned out to be. That’s exactly what we’ll do in this series, called History Lessons.

So, let’s jump in the time machine and travel back. The date was March 31, 2007, and the location was the Dobson Arena in Vail, Colo. It was time for Battle Quest 5: Avalanche.

Ten fights. Only two pro-level bouts. Four future UFC fighters and a future Bellator tournament participant. That’s the short way of saying that the fifth effort from Battle Quest, an event series put on by Ring of Fire promoter Sven Bean, was productive as an early launching pad for the careers of several accomplished mixed martial artists, including one UFC champion and one prospect who many see as an eventual UFC title holder.

The future UFC champ on the card was Benson Henderson, who would go on to first capture the WEC lightweight crown before claiming UFC gold and reigning over the lightweight division through much of 2012 and a good portion of 2013 before succumbing to Anthony Pettis, the same man who relieved him of his WEC title. In 2007, though, Henderson was still two years away from his WEC debut and more than four years away from stepping into the Octagon for the first time. When he entered the Battle Quest ring, he was just 2-0 after making his professional debut in late 2006.

The then 24-year-old Henderson’s opponent in the lightweight title fight was Rocky Johnson. The “Rock Monster” was just 5-4 at the time, but he had suffered two of his losses to future UFC fighters Alvin Robinson and Leonard Garcia and one to UFC veteran (and Henderson’s upcoming UFC on Fox 10 opponent) Josh Thomson. Johnson was already developing into a tough journeyman adversary, as Henderson was soon to find out.

The two exchanged on their feet until Henderson shot in for a takedown. Johnson defended and soon took advantage of Henderson’s exposed neck to sink in an anaconda choke. Henderson refused to tap and instead was rendered unconscious just 46 seconds into the fight. Johnson, who remains active to this day at age 42, had handed Henderson what remains his only loss outside of his pair of defeats courtesy of Pettis.

The win gave Johnson the Battle Quest strap, but the Colorado native endured numerous ups and downs in a career that includes numerous regional championship wins and a number of losses as well. Despite being in his 40s, Johnson’s two most recent outings have featured gold on the line. He won the Sparta Combat League welterweight crown in September of 2013, but lost it in a closely contested fight in December.

The more interesting follow-up to Johnson’s victory over Henderson comes in what happened just three days later, as reported in multiple interview features on both Henderson and Johnson: Johnson hired Henderson to work for his construction company.

Henderson went on to rebound from the loss with five straight wins on the regional circuit, including two submission wins with Maximum Fighting Championship, a top Canadian promotion. In 2009, he made his WEC debut against Anthony Njokuani and picked up three wins before taking the title from Jamie Varner. He defended it once before suffering his first loss to Pettis in a fight that featured Pettis’s famed “Showtime Kick.” Henderson then debuted in the UFC against Mark Bocek at UFC 129 in 2011 and notched three straight wins before capturing UFC gold with a win over Frankie Edgar. He defended the belt three times before falling via submission to Pettis. Now, “Smooth” will look to get back on track on Jan. 25 at UFC on Fox 10 when he faces Thomson.

The grooming of future champions doesn’t begin at the pro ranks, it starts at the amateur level. In this regard, Battlequest 5 could one day become known as the place where it all started for rising UFC welterweight star Brandon Thatch. Long before Thatch obliterated Justin Edwards and Paulo Thiago in the eight-sided cage, he was nothing more than a debuting amateur with a karate and kickboxing background.

Thatch, then just 21 years old, was fighting another debuting amateur in Jesse Brown. Brown, who would go on to post a 2-2 mark as an amateur and who currently stands at 4-4 as a pro with four wins over his last five outings, lasted deeper into his fight with Thatch than all but two of the welterweight’s pro opponents. It took Thatch until 69 seconds into the second stanza before he secured the rear-naked choke for the finish.

“Rukus” went on to pick up two more amateur victories that year, including one that still stands as the winning effort of the longest duration in his career. The Denver native turned professional in 2008 with a 38-second TKO win over Mike Crisman, but suffered a split decision loss in his sophomore appearance against Brandon Magana at Strikeforce’s second Playboy Mansion show. Since then, Thatch has reeled off 10 straight wins, including a submission victory over Mike Rhodes that punched his ticket to the big show. Thatch’s wins over Edwards and Thiago in 2013 have fans looking to him as a possible successor to Georges St-Pierre as a dominant force over the UFC’s welterweight division.

The only other pro fight on the card featured bantamweight Nick Mamalis against Eric Buck. Mamalis had debuted in 2006 with a loss to future UFC contender Raphael Assuncao and was just 1-1 when he took to the ring against Buck. Buck, meanwhile, was off to a promising 3-1 start after debuting in 2005. Mamalis forced Buck to submit to strikes 41 seconds into the second round.

From there, the two went in opposite directions for a while. Buck bounced back with a win, but has gone just 3-5-1 overall since his loss to Mamalis and has not fought since 2011. Mamalis, meanwhile, amassed an 18-5-1 record to earn entry into Bellator, where he impressed against Mark Oshiro and Albert Rios to earn a spot in the Bellator season-three bantamweight tournament. Mamalis emerged on the wrong side of a unanimous decision against Zach Makovsky in the quarterfinals of the tourney and was submitted by Jameel Massouh. He has gone just 4-3 since then, however, and has not appeared again in a major promotion.

The list of future UFC fighters from the card continued in the amateur offerings with a pair who would go on to Octagon appearances, but with limited success. Those two men were Cody Donovan and Jon Manley.

Donovan was another fighter making his amateur debut on the card. The Coloradan met another debuting amateur in Adam Johnsen. A mere 50 seconds after the opening bell, Donovan had the win via rear-naked choke. Johnsen’s career headed nowhere from there, with the fighter database listings providing inconsistent fight records that credit him with as many as three amateur losses and at best provide him with a 2-1 mark as a professional. Regardless, he has not fought since 2008.

Donovan’s win over Johnsen sparked a much more successful trail for him. He was knocked out in just eight seconds in his next amateur appearance, but rebounded with three more wins before turning pro in late 2008. Four years after his amateur debut, Donovan appeared under the Bellator banner with a decision win over Brian Albin. After another win on the regional circuit to run his record up to 7-2, Donovan made his Octagon debut in 2012. Despite a promising start with a first-round knockout victory over Nick Penner, Donovan hasn’t been able to capitalize on the opportunity. He has been on the receiving end of the punishment in a knockout loss to Ovince St. Preux and a TKO defeat at the hands of Gian Villante.

Manley was already one win into his amateur career when he faced Derek Brown at the event. He secured a choke in the second round to submit Brown, who now stands at 1-6 as an amateur and last competed in 2009.

Following his win over Brown, Manley opted to leave the amateur ranks behind. He made his pro debut in September 2007 and posted five wins before tasting defeat. He rebounded with two more wins and landed a spot in the cast of The Ultimate Fighter 16, where he advanced to the semifinal round with wins over Ricky Legere Jr., James Chaney and Joey Rivera. He dropped a unanimous decision to Colton Smith in the semis and followed that up with a unanimous decision loss to Neil Magny at UFC 157 in his lone official appearance with the promotion. He has since gone back to the regional circuit and picked up a win in a headlining spot on the May offering from Victory Combat Sports.

Even an event dating back to 2007 still has the potential to generate even more prospects in the future. Battle Quest’s fifth effort is a perfect example, given the presence of featherweight competitor Tommy Thompson. Thompson was nothing more than a 2-0 amateur when he welcomed Josh Eaton to the ring. It took less than two minutes for “Gun” to dispose of Eaton by way of an arm-triangle choke. It was but one of seven stoppage wins Thompson managed to accumulate between his amateur debut in 2006 and his final amateur outing in 2011.

Thompson made his pro debut in 2011 with a quick submission victory over Sammy Rind and has stopped four of his five opponents in the process of building a five-fight undefeated record between 2011 and 2013. His most recent outing came under the Resurrection Fighting Alliance banner in March 2013 when he ended the night for Joey Banks in just 20 seconds to score a knockout victory. The 32-year-old Infinite MMA product could still find his way to the big show.

Despite its amateur-heavy lineup, Battle Quest 5 proved to be fertile ground for the future of MMA. In its two pro contests, it delivered a future UFC champion, a Bellator tournament participant and a journeyman with a trophy case full of regional titles. At the amateur level, it added a top welterweight prospect who might one day claim UFC gold, plus two additional future UFC fighters and a prospect still waiting for his big break. With just 10 fights and only two pro-level bouts, that certainly stands as a significant contribution to MMA history.