After the UFC's international fight week in July, New Zealand's appeal to host another event could be backed by two ranked fighters.
Israel Adesanya and Dan Hooker will step into the octagon on back to back nights in Las Vegas - on July 7 and 8 (NZT) respectively – and Hooker believed wins would see them both earn a top-15 ranking.
Adesanya will meet current No.10 ranked middleweight Brad Tavares in the five-round main event at the Ultimate Fighter finale, before Hooker meets impressive Brazilian Gilbert Burns at UFC 226 the following night.
"Depending on these results, I see Israel being number 10 after this fight, taking Brad's ranking and then me, I think I'll slide into the rankings after this," Hooker said. "I feel like there's a few fringe-ranked fighters fighting. One of them will lose. Whoever loses slides out, whoever wins out of me and Gilbert slides in.
"I feel like me and Israel, after these fights, will be ranked, so that will definitely put a spotlight on UFC bringing a whole show back to New Zealand. I'm pretty confident if we get these wins, and we both call for UFC in New Zealand that we can make things happen pretty quickly."
Hooker, who holds a three-fight winning streak, asked for a ranked opponent after demolishing Jim Miller in his last bout. However, with the majority of the ranked fighters all booked, he'll meet Burns – who holds a 14-2 professional record.
The three-round bout shapes up as a high-paced affair. Both fighters haven't fared well when their bouts have gone to a decision. Three of Hooker's nine UFC bouts have gone the distance and he's lost each time, while Burns' two losses have both been by decision.
With that in mind, it's safe to say they'll both be looking to end it before the third round ends.
"Israel headlining and then me on one of the biggest shows, if not the biggest show of the year, it's a good sign for the future of New Zealand mixed martial arts."
The UFC was last in New Zealand in June last year, and featured Hooker and fellow Kiwis Mark Hunt and Luke Jumeau.