You could of summed it up with he was a young underdog till he beat the hell out of Rampage, then he was regarded as the best.
When he started in the UFC, he was absolutely awful fighting Forrest and Coleman. When he fought Chuck he won, early KO, but there was a question mark still considering Chuck was KNFO his previous fight and Shogun's two lackluster performances.
Coming in against Machida, he shocked a lot of people by moving and striking like he did in Pride, seemingly healthy again. During the 2nd fight he was the clear favorite. Against Rashad whenever that happens, hopefully he's 100%.
I actually felt bad for Rampage in that fight, poor ribs lol. Your right, he wasn't the underdog in Machida vs Rua 2 but he also wasnt the champion (He should have been !)