Carlos Ulberg is yet to make his official debut with the UFC, but has already captured the attention of the promotion and its fans.
Ulberg earned his contract with the world's largest mixed martial arts promotion with a first-round knockout on Dana White's Contender Series last year – a show where prospects from around the world go toe to toe to earn a contract.
After his win, UFC president Dana White noted just how marketable Ulberg was, not just from how he looked inside the octagon, but outside it as well.
Now, the 30-year-old light heavyweight is ready for his moment under the lights.
Ulberg will make his UFC debut on Sunday (NZ time) against Kennedy Nzechukwu at UFC 259. His teammates from Auckland's City Kickboxing gym Israel Adesanya, the UFC middleweight champion, and Kai Kara-France are also fighting on the card.
While he'll be making his first walk to the octagon, City Kickboxing coach Eugene Bareman said the process of finding an opponent told the story of what the UFC see in the decorated kickboxer.
"When I get an email with Carlos and it's for potential opponents, and they send me five or six, that's a good sign," Bareman explained.
"That means they want me to choose whoever I think is the most appropriate for Carlos. When I get one and I have to take that one, that can say sometimes that they're disinterested in that person - 'you fight him, you have to fight him because that's all there is available. Sorry mate.' But they've given me a choice, so that says to me that they see some potential in Carlos, they're going to back Carlos, they're going to – not look after him – but help him on his way.
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"If they think you're a rising star they really do get behind you and I think they see that in Carlos, and that's the same thing we see as well. He's had a fantastic camp, and if he gets a big statement win, he's on the same trajectory as old mate; the Stylebender (Adesanya). That's the kind of potential I think Carlos has."
While still green in his MMA career, Ulberg's impressive career in kickboxing has provided him with a base to launch off, and a dangerous skill set despite his grappling still being very much a work in progress.
Although he comes in with hype and promise, Ulberg said he wasn't feeling any pressure and that he knew he couldn't just go in there with a one-dimensional frame of mind.
"I know the outcome," he said. "I know they outcome is that I come out happy and smiling at the end of it, so I'm good.
"I can't go in to expect to knock him out or anything. I'll go in, try to have fun, tap him, see what he's going to bite on and just live in the moment and have fun – just like a kid on a playground.
"I'm going to expect everything; he'll take me down – I'll expect him to take me down, I'll expect a bit of wrestling, and I've been preparing for that. Hopefully we can stand for a bit."
When asked if the world as ready for him, Ulberg added: "Is the world ready for me? Are they? I don't know."