Little more than five years after he wondered whether he had a future in the UFC, middleweight champion Robert Whittaker takes on Israel Adesanya in Australia's biggest MMA bout.
Both Whittaker's and Adesanya's stocks have risen considerably in recent years heading into Sunday's UFC 243 show at Melbourne's Marvel Stadium, which is expected to draw a crowd close to the
UFC record attendance of 56,214 at the same venue four years ago.
Australian Whittaker has won nine straight and is unbeaten in five years, while New Zealand-based interim champion Adesanya boasts a perfect 17-0 MMA record.
"This isn't just a massive fight for Australia and New Zealand, this is a massive fight globally - the world will be watching this fight," UFC boss Dana White said.
"You think that MMA has grown a lot and is big now in Australia? Wait till this fight is over ... it's going to blow the whole thing up."
Whittaker, who played rugby league at development level before focusing on MMA, said he would have probably worked as an electrician if he hadn't made the grade.
For a short time that looked a possibility as he suffered successive losses.
He dropped a points decision to Court McGee in August 2013 and six months later, he suffered a first-round loss to Stephen Thompson.
"On the back of the second loss, I was thinking 'maybe, this isn't for me. Maybe I shouldn't (continue)'. I was getting sick of it," Whittaker told AAP.
"Having back-to-back losses really makes you re-evaluate what you're doing.
"But thankfully I'm glad I didn't (stop).
"I met my high performance coach Fabricio Itte, which was a big turning point for the way I structured my training."
Whittaker's third straight win after those back-to-back losses was in November 2015, when Adesanya was a spectator at the same venue they will fight in on Sunday.
"I remember watching and thinking 'this is going to be me one day'," said Adesanya, whose first UFC bout was under two years ago.
"I was in the nosebleeds and now I'm going to make his nose bleed."
That comment generated plenty of boos from the four-figure crowd attending the weigh-in, but there were cheers aplenty for Whittaker.
As they faced off, Adesanya uttered some words to Whittaker, who showed no emotion.
"I wanted him to feel me," Adesanya said.
Whittaker came in right on the limit of just under 84 kilos, with Adesanya half a kilo lighter.
"It's going to be be fireworks, it's going to be a blockbuster, and I expect big things from him," said Whittaker, who declared himself in career-best shape.
"I'm giving him and his skill-set the respect it deserves."
When the always-confident Adesanya was asked if Whittaker presented his toughest test yet, he said: "I think so but I'll make it look easy."
New Zealand's Dan Hooker fights American Al Iaqunita in the co-main event bout between two world-ranked lightweights.
The card has plenty of Australian and New Zealand fighters, with world-ranked heavyweight Tai Tuivasa, Jake Matthews and Megan Anderson among the local contingent.