Israel Adesanya will remain on track to join the likes of Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey as UFC icons if he wins a second world title today.
The middleweight champion is looking to become the fifth two-weight title holder in UFC history when he challenges Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title at UFC 259 in Las Vegas this afternoon.
Adesanya has made plenty of waves outside the octagon since joining the UFC. He's long been on the same trajectory as the likes of McGregor and Rousey, and UFC boss Dana White said Adesanya had to do only one thing for that to continue.
"If he keeps doing what he's doing; if he keeps winning, breaking records and doing all these things ... it's inevitable," White said.
That starts this afternoon against Blachowicz. The Polish powerhouse poses a unique test for Adesanya, weighing in heavier, which could play a factor in the bout should Blachowicz grapple with Adesanya, as he can then use his weight advantage.
Adesanya will have the edge in speed and is a more clinical striker than Blachowicz, though the 38-year-old Pole has made his way through the ranks thanks in large part to his ability to knock out opponents with just one shot. A forward-pressure fighter, Blachowicz charges in and throws combinations in an awkward style, generating power from all angles.
However, for his power to play a part, Blachowicz will have to catch Adesanya. In nine UFC bouts, Adesanya has been rocked only twice: in his interim title win against Kelvin Gastelum and his title defence against Yoel Romero.
It won't be the first time Adesanya has fought outside his natural weight class, having competed in heavier divisions in kickboxing. He said those experiences gave him an idea of what to expect against Blachowicz as he looks to become the only person to ever hold the UFC middleweight and light heavyweight titles at the same time.
"You feel a difference in power of glancing shots when they hit you, or when they hit your arm, but you feel the difference in speed. They're a lot slower, they take a little while to get to their target, put it that way. The pace is very different at that weight, and it's fun for me."
From the moment he entered the UFC, the 31-year-old Kiwi had a target on his back. An undefeated prospect with a lot of hype, the ability to cut a promo and a desire to stay active, he quickly caught the eye of others in the middleweight division and, importantly, the fans.
After announcing he was "the new dog in the yard" after a second-round TKO win on his promotional debut in 2018, he was forced to back up that statement through a string of tough fights.
Now, boasting a 20-0 record, he stands on the brink of history.
Adesanya will be joined on the card by teammates from Auckland's City Kickboxing gym - Carlos Ulberg and Kai Kara-France. Light heavyweight Ulberg will be making his UFC debut against Nigerian Kennedy Nzechukwu in a bout that will be telling as to what level the former kickboxing star's MMA skill set is at.
Kara-France, ranked eighth-equal in the flyweight division, will take on his rankings equal Rogerio Bontorin, of Brazil, in a bout many have circled as one not to be missed – including White, who named it as one of his two non-title fight bouts to watch on the card.
UFC Apex, Las Vegas
Sunday March 7
(from 4pm on pay-per-view via Sky Arena, Sky Sport Now and UFC Fight Pass)
Light heavyweight title: Jan Blachowicz (c) v Israel Adesanya
Featherweight title: Amanda Nunes (c) v Megan Anderson
Bantamweight title: Petr Yan (c) v Aljamain Sterling
Lightweight bout: Islam Makhachev (14) v Drew Dober
Light heavyweight bout: Thiago Santos (2) v Aleksandar Rakic (4)
(from 2pm on ESPN, Sky Sport Now and UFC Fight Pass)
Bantamweight bout: Dominick Cruz (11) v Casey Kenney
Bantamweight bout: Song Yadong (14) v Kyler Phillips
Flyweight bout: Joseph Benavidez (2) v Askar Askarov (3)
Flyweight bout: Rogerio Bontorin (8) v Kai Kara-France (8)
Early preliminary bouts
(from 11.15am on UFC Fight Pass)
Flyweight bout: Tim Elliott (12) v Jordan Espinosa
Light heavyweight bout: Kennedy Nzechukwu v Carlos Ulberg
Welterweight bout: Sean Brady v Jake Matthews
Strawweight bout: Livinha Souza (15) v Amanda Lemos
Lightweight bout: Uroš Medić v Aalon Cruz
Bantamweight bout: Mario Bautista v Trevin Jones