In the space of 20 months, Israel Adesanya went from 'unlockable character' to UFC middleweight champion.
Anyone who wasn't familiar with the Kiwi prospect had to wait until they saw him walk to the ring to get a glimpse of him as, at the time, the UFC's website used a generic silhouette on fight cards to show a fighter was on debut.
Once he stepped inside the octagon, he didn't waste any time in announcing himself to the UFC audience. Overcoming a grappling attack in the first round, Adesanya turned Australian Rob Wilkinson into a punching bag to claim a second round TKO on the preliminary card at UFC 221 in Perth on February 11, 2018.
Outspoken, confident and undefeated, Adesanya joined the UFC as a much hyped prospect, and his debut was everything the company could have hoped for. He showed glimpses of his skill, and didn't waste the opportunity to show his talents on the microphone after the bout either, announcing: "Middleweights - I'm the new dog in the yard, and I just pissed all over this cage."
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It was the only bout of his UFC career to date that would feature on a preliminary card. His next bout, a split decision win over Italian Marvin Vettori, was his main card debut and in just his third UFC fight, the Nigerian-born fighter was booked in a headline spot.
It was his clinical dismantling of then No10-ranked Hawaiian Brad Tavares over five rounds that saw his star soar rapidly, before a TKO win over American Derek Brunson at Madison Square Garden in New York saw him end 2018 ranked just outside the top 5 fighters in the middleweight division.
In 2019, Adesanya ticked off milestones. First, he beat the consensus greatest middleweight of all time Anderson Silva, before winning the interim middleweight title against Kelvin Gastelum in a bout that will one day be a contender to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, and finally become undisputed champion when he knocked out Robert Whittaker in front of 57,127 people - the largest-ever crowd for a UFC event - at UFC 243 in Melbourne in October.
With seven fights since the start of 2018, Adesanya has been one of the most active in that time frame, along with the likes of Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone (7), Thiago Santos (7), and Eryk Anders (7).
Now, with the belt strapped around his waist, the 30-year-old is arguably the most marketable star the UFC has on its roster and heads into a year where he will be fending off the rest of the pack.
There is some uncertainty over when Adesanya might step back into the octagon however, with incumbent challenger Paulo Costa out of action until at least April and the next best available option, No3-ranked Yoel Romero, having won just one of his last four bouts.
While it's unusual for the company to book a title fight for a contender on a losing streak, the fact that Adesanya wants to get back to work and has actively been asking for the Romero fight has the UFC looking into making it happen.
UFC boss Dana White told ESPN he had a timeframe in mind for the fight, but there was nothing official to announce yet.
"We're looking at Yoel Romeo," White confirmed. "(Israel) wants that fight. He wants to fight Yoel Romero. Nobody wants to fight Yoel Romero. Nobody's screaming I want Yoel Romero. He is."
Romero has made a name for himself as one of the middleweight division's toughest competitors, despite having never held the title. A former Olympic silver medal wrestler, the Cuban presents Adesanya with an elite level of wrestling that he has yet to experience in his career in the octagon. In his past four fights, Romero has attempted 64 take downs with a 25 per cent success rate.
Romero appears to be the only option should Adesanya wish to get back to work as soon as possible, with the next best ranked fighters Whittaker (1) and Jared Cannonier (4) booked to fight at UFC 248 in Las Vegas in March. It is rumoured the UFC is trying to book Adesanya against Romero as the main event on the same card.
"It's harder to stay champ than it is to be champ," Adesanya said after beating Whittaker. "You see a lot of people just fall off after this, because they've done what they've set out to do. I've done one thing that I've set out to do which is become the UFC champion.
"Now it's about defending that actively. I'm going to write my own legacy - not compared to anyone else - I'm going to carve my own way.
"I'm still all hype, by the way. Don't worry; I'm just a hype train."