For many mixed martial artists, making the walk to the UFC octagon at a hometown event is major career milestone.
The roar of the crowd, looking out to the fans to see familiar faces and flag waving, it's the kind of thing that appears in day dreams.
While Kai Kara-France and Brad Riddell will get to see those dreams become reality at UFC fight Night 168 on Sunday at Auckland's Spark Arena, they won't be getting too caught up in the moment.
The teammates from Auckland's City Kickboxing gym will take part in the third UFC event on Kiwi shores, against Tyson Nam and Magomed Mustafaev respectively, with fellow City Kickboxing fighter Dan Hooker in the main event against Paul Felder.
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Speaking about the impact of a hometown crowd, Riddell said there was no extra pressure that came with fighting on home soil.
"When I walk out, it's just tunnel vision," he said. "All I see is the cage and Magomed. Whoever's in the crowd is in the crowd – I appreciate the support, but when I get in there it's just me and my corner. There's no more pressure than any other fight I've had in my life."
Kara-France echoed Riddell's comments and suggested while a hometown crowd didn't bring any addition pressure for the local fighters, it could have an effect on the visiting opponent.
"Our opponents are going to feel they're in hostile territory; they're going to feel that arena," Kara France said.
"Come Sunday, we'll be defending the land and representing New Zealand; going in to battle not for ourselves and our gym, but for our people.
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"It doesn't really matter who's in the crowd…once we're in there it's just me and my opponent."
Both Kara-France (20-8; 3-1 UFC) and Nam (16-10; 0-1 UFC) come into the bout off unanimous decisions losses. Kara-France, ranked No8 in the UFC's flyweight division, said while he was the higher-ranked of the two, anyone can win at any time once the cage door closes.
"In the UFC, you're fighting the world's best. Tyson's had a lot of fights and is a little bit older than me, so he's going to be a crafty veteran but I'm going to be one step ahead. I'm going to be too sharp, too quick and being in my hometown, this is what I dreamed of – fighting just down the road from my house in front of so many familiar faces – I'm going to be coming in with everything I have."
For Riddell (7-1; 1-0 UFC), his bout against fellow highly touted lightweight prospect Mustafaev (15-2 (3-1 UFC) is a like-for-like battle. Both fighters used to fight at welterweight, a class above lightweight, before joining the UFC and are known for their aggressive styles.
In his debut last October, Riddell won a fight of the night bonus for his slugfest against Australian Jamie Mullarkey. While the fight would be just the second for Mustafaev since suffering an injury in 2016, with 10 of his 15 wins coming by knockout, Riddell knew he had to be wary of the Dagestan product.
"I know the crowd likes those wars and those head-to-head battles, but it's not the best for your long-term health so I'd like the change it up this time," Riddell said.
"As long as I keep my head cool, and don't get sucked into a fist fight. Me and him have very similar styles, we're very aggressive and like to fight, so it's going to be very entertaining. But I'm going to keep my cool and out-perform him.
"It's going to be tricky. He's a very good fighter and he's very well rounded, but I'm better."
UFC Auckland card
Lightweight: Dan Hooker (NZ) v Paul Felder (five-round main event)
Light heavyweight: Jimmy Crute (Aus) v Michal Oleksiejczuk
Strawweight: Karolina Kowalkiewicz v Yan Xiaonan
Heavyweight: Ben Sosoli (NZ) v Marcos Rogério de Lima
Lightweight: Brad Riddell (NZ) v Magomed Mustafaev
Featherweight: Kevin Aguilar v Zubaira Tukhugov
Lightweight: Joshua Culibao (Aus) v Jalin Turner
Welterweight: Jake Matthews (Aus) v Emil Meek
Welterweight: Callan Potter (Aus) v Kenan Song
Flyweight: Kai Kara-France (NZ) v Tyson Nam
Strawweight: Loma Lookboonmee v Angela Hill
Welterweight: Maki Pitolo v Takashi Sato
Flyweight: Priscila Cachoeira v Shana Dobson
Catch the action from 10am on Sunday on nzherald.co.nz, Prime and ESPN.