There has always been some "dislike" between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. But on Tuesday night in Las Vegas, polite criticism was gone and the fighters stood in the middle of the ring and traded punches.
After his first debate five weeks ago, then front-running Gov. Rick Perry was attacked so often, he said he felt like a pinata.
"I am an authentic conservative, not a conservative of convenience," he said.
Five weeks later, struggling to get out of third place or worse in some polls, he found his stick and started swinging, most notably accusing Mitt Romney of hiring undocumented immigrants.
"Mitt you lose all of your standing from my perspective because you hired illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year. The idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you're strong on immigration is on its face the height of hypocrisy," Perry said.
"Rick, I don't think I've ever hired an illegal in my life," Romney replied.
But Romney did admit the lawn service he used in Boston for more than a decade did employ the undocumented at his home -- twice.
"When that was pointed out to us, we let them go," Romney said.
"A year later?" Perry said.
"You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking," Romney replied.
It wasn't the only issue Romney was criticized for; for the first time in these debates, Romney truly felt pressure on his Massachusetts health care plan.
"Your plan essentially is one more big government, bureaucratic system," presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said.
The first half-hour of this two hour affair focused on Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan.
"I like your chutzpah, Hermann, but the analysis I did, person by person, return by return, is that middle income people see higher taxes under your plan," Romney said.
And despite it's national popularity, 9-9-9 was not the number to bet on in Vegas.
"Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something, you don't need a big analysis to figure this thing out. Go to New Hampshire where they don't have a sales tax and you're fixing to give them one. They're not interested in 9-9-9," Perry said.
Remember that debate. We won't see them for a while. Debates are done until November 9 in Detroit.