Israel Adesanya wants to clear out the UFC middleweight division. To knock back all challengers and beat the best the world has to offer.
Less than three years and just nine fights into his UFC career, he's already made a good fist of it.
Adesanya, who claimed the undisputed middleweight championship last October with a win over Robert Whittaker, has already beaten seven of the top 15 ranked athletes in his division. Most of those remaining are yet to string together the wins necessary to get a shot at the man at the top.
"If you look at the evolution of him in the UFC, he came in and fought some guys that were unranked like him and started to work his way up," UFC President Dana White told the Herald of Adesanya.
"Now you can see the confidence and that this is his house and he runs the place. You can just see it. And his fighting style is unbelievable."
With the current state of the division, there is only one scalp left for Adesanya to take - that of former heavyweight and light heavyweight Jared Cannonier. Cannonier has found a home at middleweight, winning all three of his bouts in the weight class by TKO.
However, with Cannonier booked to meet Whittaker at UFC 254 next month, there is plenty riding on the outcome of that match.
Should Cannonier get a convincing win, Adesanya's next move becomes a no-brainer. However, should Whittaker win, White says there will be a number of opportunities worth exploring.
The 31-year-old Kiwi champion has spoken about one day fighting at a higher weight class and with no standout top contender at middleweight, now could be the time to explore such an opportunity.
Adesanya made fairly easy work of Whittaker when they met in Melbourne last year, knocking him out in the second round. Many believe Whittaker remains the toughest match-up in the division for Adesanya, however given how the last bout went there may not be the interest in a rematch.
"The Whittaker rematch would make sense too, depending on how Robert wins, or you could do one of those super fights," White said. "I mean, I'd love a fight with him and Jon Jones. I would love that."
Adesanya and former light heavyweight champion Jones have traded barbs over the years, with both Adesanya and Jones indicating they hope to meet one another in 2021.
#ESPN Reyes vs Jan For the UFC light heavyweight championship of the world. As of right now, I got nothing to really gain fighting either of them. Let me know if you guys want to set up a day in 2021 for that Izzy fight. Hopefully you guys will be willing to pay by then.— BONY (@JonnyBones) May 31, 2020
However, with Jones said to be exploring a move to heavyweight, Adesanya could look for a bout against current light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.
While Adesanya's future in the cage remains to be seen, White offered his view on a number of other potential bouts featuring Kiwi athletes.
No 4 ranked lightweight Dan Hooker has been willing to welcome highly touted new signing Michael Chandler to the promotion. Chandler, a former champion with rival promotion Bellator, will act as the back-up fighters for the title bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje next month and will step in if one if forced out.
White said he "definitely likes" the idea of Hooker and Chandler matching up, but added: "not right now – it doesn't make sense."
After his win at UFC 253 at the weekend, fellow Kiwi lightweight Brad Riddell said he felt he was ready for a top 15 opponent. Riddell is 3-0 in the UFC and has impressed White. However, the majority of those at the bottom end of the top 15 are already booked, and White didn't seem all that keen on trying to book him against current No 15 ranked Donald Cerrone - a legend of the sport who has been on a skid in recent times.
"Yeah, I like that fight. The problem is with Cerrone, I'm looking at talking to Cerrone right now about possibly hanging it up. For a guy like Riddell on the way up, I don't know how much that does for him," White said.
"It's always good to have Cerrone on your resume, but after a four-fight losing streak, I don't know."