Israel Adesanya had a dream.

It was Sunday night, three weeks ago. The undefeated middleweight was fresh off a dominant win at UFC 230 in New York with plans of a summer break in Europe.

When he woke up on the Monday morning, the 29-year-old knew what his next move had to be.

His summer plans went on hold, and a fight against Brazilian UFC legend Anderson Silva was lined up for UFC 234 in Melbourne in February.

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Before the bout was announced, Adesanya indicated to the Herald his next fight would be one for the fans – a title eliminator against a big, then unnamed, opponent.

With Adesanya having previously said he wasn't all that interested in a bout against Silva, the announcement sent shockwaves through the UFC fandom.

"No one's living my life; no one really understands what's happening," Adesanya told the Herald.

"I decided this is how the movie has to play out. This is going to be the ending for the first part of my life movie and, for part two, I've already got a plan for that.

"It's weird, it's crazy, but we're in the Matrix now."

The fight is one mixed martial arts fans worldwide have wanted to see ever since Adesanya's UFC debut in February, with many noting the comparisons between their abilities in the octagon.

Israel Adesanya knocked out Derek Brunson in the first round of their bout at UFC 230. Photo / Getty Images
Israel Adesanya knocked out Derek Brunson in the first round of their bout at UFC 230. Photo / Getty Images

Both fighters are long, powerful strikers who back their attacking prowess up with clinical, elusive defensive work both in the striking game and when their opponents attempt to take the fight to the mat.

Silva, now 43 years old, held the UFC middleweight title from 2006 to 2013, defending the belt 10 times before losing it to American Chris Weidman. His 2457 days with the belt remains the longest title reign in UFC history.

The Brazilian last fought in 2017, where he took a unanimous decision win over American Derek Brunson. Brunson was also Adesanya's most recent opponent, with the Kiwi getting the job done before the end of the first round.

The fight between Adesanya and Silva is one of two confirmed on the Melbourne card, with Kiwi-born middleweight champion Robert Whittaker defending his title against American Kelvin Gastelum in the headliner.

While the headliner is a tantalising match up, it has been somewhat overshadowed by the announcement of Adesanya's bout.

"Robert's the lucky one because he gets to claim the pay-per-view dollars, but I'll get it back later on. But I think we're the main event," Adesanya said.

"We're the ones that people want to see. Get excited for this fight, because Silva's going to be fighting, I think, his last few years in Brazil or North America, so to have him come all the way to Melbourne and for a lot of people this will be the only chance they'll have to see him, it's going to be cool – and they get to watch me destroy him."