Dan Hooker knows with big risk comes big reward.
On Sunday, the Kiwi mixed martial artist will take a risk no others were willing to when he welcomes American lightweight Michael Chandler to the UFC.
The pair will meet in the co-main event at UFC 257, taking to the cage before fellow lightweights Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.
While Hooker has been preparing for the bout for some time, he was not the first choice of opponent for Chandler's first UFC showcase.
Last month, UFC president Dana White suggested the company was working on booking Chandler against former interim champion Justin Gaethje. That fight didn't get over the line and last week White confirmed Brazil's Charles Oliveira, ranked No 3 in the division, turned down the fight due to having just fought a month ago and not wanting to cut the weight at short notice.
Instead, Chandler, a former champion with rival promotion Bellator, will have No 6-ranked Hooker as his welcoming party.
Speaking of the opportunity, Hooker said he knows exactly what is on the line for him this weekend.
"Whatever happens after this fight, I know it's going to be a huge reward, because I feel like it's a huge risk this fight," Hooker explained.
"The guys above me are only not here because they didn't want to take the risk. I'm taking the risk, that means I get the reward for this fight. I've flown over here, I'm fighting the new guy, I'm taking months away – huge risk equals huge reward, whatever that may be; whether that may be from the main event or (reigning champion) Khabib (Nurmagomedov). Only time will tell.
"They're lining Chandler up for an opportunity like that; they're lining Chandler up for the title. I'm the guy that stepped up. I took the challenge, I took the risk, that means I get the reward. Look at the history of the sport; the man that takes the risk gets the reward ... I could be one first-round knee knockout away from getting that shot."
Hooker has made a name for himself as a finisher in the lightweight division since making the step up from featherweight in 2017, with seven wins in nine fights including five stoppages.
Blessed with a granite chin and long limbs, Hooker has proven himself as one of the world's best mixed martial artists at 115lbs (70.3kg).
Many have suggested Hooker's ability to maintain distance, his defensive grappling and his quick-strike attack make him the worst possible match-up in the division's top echelon for the wrestling and forward pressure approach Chandler implements.
Speaking about the match-up, Chandler said this was exactly the kind of fight he joined the UFC to take.
"I definitely see that they could be warranted," Chandler said of suggestions that Hooker was his worst stylistic match-up.
"But I didn't come to the UFC for easy fights; I didn't come here to tip-toe around. I didn't come to this promotion to not put myself in line to prove my skillset is worthy of getting the title shot here in 2021.
"Dan Hooker is the first name on that list, and he's a nightmare match-up for anyone with his physical attributes, with his willingness to engage his toughness inside the octagon. He's a tough guy, but that's what gets me excited.
"That's all you can ask for as an athlete. You want to be under the brightest lights, and on the biggest stage and platform possible, because when that octagon door closes, some questions will get answered."