When asked if there was a particular moment in which he realised Israel Adesanya was going to be a star, UFC president Dana White didn't hesitate to answer.
"I liked Israel the first time I ever met him."
Adesanya burst on the brightest stage in mixed martial arts in 2018. After a long and decorated career in kickboxing, Adesanya had been making the transition between sports through the mid-2010s - establishing a 11-0 record with 11 wins by knockout to begin his journey.
When he met Australian Rob Wilkinson in his UFC debut in February of 2018, it was a similar story as the Nigerian-born Kiwi claimed a second-round stoppage. If people didn't know of him before then, he made sure they did when given a post-fight interview, proclaiming: "I'm the new dog in the yard, and I just pissed all over this cage."
The clip spread widely and an already hyped prospect gained even more traction.
But Adesanya backed his talk up every step of the way, claiming the undisputed UFC middleweight championship in late 2019 - appearing in the octagon seven times within an 18-month period.
"The kid is obviously super talented and can fight, he's got a great personality," White told the Herald. "I mean, he's everything you could want in a champion. He's a good looking kid, you couldn't ask for a better world champion than Israel."
This weekend, Adesanya is the headline act on the UFC's biggest card of the year to date at UFC 276 in Las Vegas, putting his title on the line against hard-hitting American Jared Cannonier.
The bout against Cannonier (15-5) is Adesanya's first fresh challenge since his move up to light heavyweight in March of 2021, with his two most recent title defences being rematches - improving his record to 2-0 against both Marvin Vettori and Robert Whittaker.
The event doubles as the biggest ever for the Oceania region, with Australian Alexander Volkanovski putting his featherweight championship on the line, while Kiwi Brad Riddell fights in the featured preliminary bout on the 12-strong card. Volkanovski and Adesanya have only shared a card once before - and that was Adesanya's debut performance. Both men claimed stoppage wins that day.
For Adesanya, his bout against Cannonier at UFC 276 will be his eighth-straight title fight, and fifth defence of his middleweight crown. In little more than four years with the promotion, Adesanya has amassed a 12-1 record - his sole loss coming in his bid to claim the light heavyweight title.
For White, that's all part of the allure of 'The Last Stylebender'.
"The thing that I like most about Israel - he loves to fight. He wants to stay active, he wants to stay busy. He's not one of these guys who wins the title and then doesn't want to fight, drags it out and stays away from people.
"I won't mention any names, but I had a couple of guys like that who were absolute nightmares to have as world champions. So, to have a guy like Israel, as a promoter it's a dream come true."
T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. Sunday.
Early prelims (UFC Fight Pass) - 10am
Prelims - ft. Brad Riddell (ESPN, Prime, Sky Sport Now, UFC Fight Pass) - 12pm
Main card (pay-per-view) - ft. Israel Adesanya; Alexander Volkanovski (Sky Arena, Spark Sport, Sky Sport Now, UFC Fight Pass) - 2pm