Walt Harris promised to come back stronger after a tough technical knockout loss to Alistair Overeem in an emotionally heavy UFC fight in Florida on Saturday.
Harris, 36, was interrupted in the second round of his first fight since the disappearance and death of his stepdaughter, Aniah Blanchard, at the end of last year.
The American considered abandoning mixed martial arts before agreeing to head the third UFC event in eight days at an empty VyStar Veterans Memorial arena in Jacksonville.
Harris almost took his 14th career victory after overthrowing Overeem in the opening round, but the eighth-placed Dutchman recovered and made use of his vast experience.
Speaking afterwards, Harris thanked the UFC, his team and the local community in Homewood, Alabama, where he lives.
"I love you," he told ESPN. "I'm sorry, I didn't get & # 39; W & # 39; for you tonight, but you were there for my family and me all through.
"For the fans, I know you couldn't be here tonight, but you're at home watching it. I'm sorry, I'll be back better, I promise. You haven't seen the last episode of & # 39; The Big Ticket. & # 39 ;
"I go home, I recover, I heal emotionally and physically and I promise I will get better."
Overeem, who lost to Jairzinho Rozenstruik in December, comforted Harris after the fight and praised his opponent for the challenge.
"It was difficult, he didn't want to give up. I felt he was tired, but he stayed there. But I really wasn't tired," said Overeem.
Asked about his next goal, Overeem replied: "We will look at the ranking, fight again later this year and maybe we will see if there is one more chance in the title".