Brad Riddell loves a fist fight.
Making his UFC debut with a unanimous decision win over Australian Jamie Mullarkey at UFC 243 in Melbourne on Sunday, the 28-year-old gave fans a taste of what's to come.
The pair duked it out over three rounds, battering one another to the point of near exhaustion in a brawl that earned each fighter a US$50,000 fight of the night bonus.
For Riddell, a decorated kickboxer with more than 80 fights to his name before making the move to mixed martial arts, that style of fight plays right into his comfort zone, however it comes with its downside.
"It's not good for my looks," he joked after the bout. "My modelling career's going a little bit further away every time; getting some more scars, my ears are getting a bit more chewed up and my nose ain't looking so great.
"At least you guys know that when I get in there, no matter how the fight's going, I'm going to fight."
Most of his MMA bouts have been at welterweight but dropped into the lightweight division for the UFC. Riddell is built to hit hard, and does just that, while carrying less weight in the lightweight division allows him to move faster and be lighter on his feet.
With five career wins by knockout, Riddell said he was a but surprised Mullarkey was able to take as much punishment as he did.
"Adrenaline is a hell of a drug. If you're jacked up in there and want to win it just like I do, you'll stay up at all costs. There's a lot on the line and sometimes the crowd forgets this. They're just watching this fight for entertainment, but for us in there fighting it's deeper. It's not just a little fist fight, there are always extra factors behind it.
"I thought I was going to finish him a couple of times. It was damn close."
Riddell was left needing a handful of stitches in a cut above his left eye after his bout with Mullarkey, but said he was up for a quick turnaround, with a spot on the December 15 (NZT) card in Las Vegas in his sights.
City Kickboxing teammates Kai Kara-France and Alexander Volkanovski are already fighting on the card at UFC 245, with Volkanovski fighting Max Holloway for the featherweight title.
Being Volkanovski's striking coach, Riddell said he would be going to Las Vegas for the card regardless, so it made sense to fight on it.
"The window of this sport, the opportunity is very small and I want to jump back in there as soon as I can. And there's nothing better than fighting with your teammates on a card and filling up the locker room with all your boys," he said.
"Those guys jump in the trenches with me every single day, every single hour of training. You invest in each other, because without each other we're not going to get better."