Dan Hooker still believes he can make an impact in the UFC's featherweight division.
The Auckland fighter has been added to the UFC Fight Night 85 card in Brisbane on March 20 where he will meet Mark Eddiva (6-2) of the Philippines.
Since making his debut in the promotion in his hometown in 2014, Hooker has alternated wins and losses for a 2-2 UFC record.
His last outing saw him drop a unanimous decision to the highly-touted Yair Rodriguez (6-1) at UFC 192 in October.
Hooker has trained for his previous bouts in Auckland and Vietnam but he has been based at the Elevation Fight Team in Denver, Colorado recently, which features the likes of former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw and welterweight contender Matt Brown (20-13).
Before signing with the UFC, Hooker (12-6) fought at lightweight where he was one of the most dominant competitors in Australasia.
He is tall for a featherweight at 1.83m and while there were whispers that he might return to lightweight in 2016, he isn't going anywhere yet.
"Lightweight is where I spent a majority of my career and I have always intended to return in the future. But I have plenty more I intend to accomplish in the featherweight division," he told the Herald.
Hooker worked closely with Dillashaw (12-3) before the American lost his belt via split decision to Dominick Cruz (21-1) earlier this month.
That experience was an eye-opener for the New Zealander.
"I got to see the work ethic and sacrifice it takes to become world champion first-hand. After being surrounded by the best fighters on the planet every day I have made so many developments in my game, technique and approach that I'm a completely new fighter."
The loss to Rodriguez also provided Hooker with the inspiration to reassess his own game.
"My MMA career has come full circle, I started my pro career 3-3 and it was so frustrating because I knew that I was better than any of my opponents but things just weren't going my way. Then something clicked and I went on a tear, was signed to the UFC and have found some success but I know what I am capable of and feel I have really evolved as a fighter in a short space of time since my last fight."
As for Eddiva, Hooker, 25, doesn't think his opponent has what it takes to hang with The Hangman.
"I honestly feel this guy's not on my level and that this fight ends no way but badly for him," Hooker said.
Hooker's new teammate Neil Magny (17-4) will feature in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 85 when he takes on Australian-Cuban Hector Lombard (34-4-1, 2 NC).
The card will be headlined by Kiwi heavyweight Mark Hunt (11-10-1) who will meet former champion Frank Mir (18-10).
James Te Huna (16-8) will also make his long-awaited return to the octagon when he faces Canadian Steve Bosse (10-2).
Meanwhile, the ultra-talented Israel Adesanya has launched an online campaign to make his UFC debut in Brisbane.
The Style Bender has a 6-0 record in MMA, a 5-1 professional boxing record and has more than 50 kickboxing bouts to his credit.
The Auckland-based Adesanya is a dangerous striker, while his ground game has evolved in recent times.
Hooker also campaigned via social media for his inclusion to the UFC and he supported Adesanya's bid.
"It's not a matter of if but when for Izzy," Hooker said of Adesanya's potential UFC debut.