Israel Adesanya's shot at UFC gold will come sooner than many expected, with a title fight confirmed in April.
Adesanya will meet Kelvin Gastelum to crown an interim middleweight champion at UFC 236 in April, however the location is still to be determined.
UFC boss Dana White confirmed the bout to ESPN this morning.
Gastelum, who holds a 15-3 record, was scheduled to fight for the title at UFC 234 in Melbourne earlier this month but had his bout cancelled when champion Robert Whittaker was forced to withdraw.
With Whittaker sidelined after undergoing surgery to repair a hernia and twisted bowel, Adesanya will get his opportunity to claim the belt.
The 29-year-old Kiwi earned his spot as the No.1 contender for the middleweight title with a win over Anderson Silva at UFC 234. However with Gastelum losing out on his shot, there were questions over how the UFC would approach the next title fight.
"I'm the guy fighting for the belt," Adesanya said after UFC 234. "I don't care - Kelvin or Rob, who ever it is, I'm fighting for the belt - whoever has the belt...I'm fighting for the belt next, that's all I know. I did my job, I showed up to work."
With Whittaker expected to be unable to fight until June or July, Adesanya and Gastelum will both get their shot at the title with the winner likely to fight Whittaker for the undisputed title when he is fit.
"It's a win/win/win all 'round and a fair result for everyone involved," Whittaker's manager Titus Day told the Herald.
"From Rob's point of view he's not really bothered (by the announcement of an interim title). He has never picked his oponents and will fight to whoever the UFC puts in front of him. He's just happy that he is recovering well and will get to fight again."
It's the latest step in Adesanya's rapid rise through the UFC ranks. Since making his debut with the promotion in February 2018, he's been one of the most active and impressive fighters on the roster.
Fighting five times in his first year with the UFC, Adesanya is unbeaten in the octagon - with his mixed martial arts career record moving to 16-0.