Add Luke Jumeau to the list of Kiwis eyeing a spot on the card when the UFC returns down under in December.
It's been a long wait between bouts for the Hamiltonian welterweight, who last stepped inside the octagon in Perth in February where he took a unanimous decision win over Daichi Abe – breaking his hand in the process.
During the fight, Jumeau (13-4-0; 2-1-0 UFC) broke the second metacarpal on his right hand, which required two surgeries to repair.
"I didn't actually feel it until the fight was over," he said. "The fight was over and the adrenaline wore off - or something like that."
The initial surgery, which Jumeau, 30, had about two weeks after the fight, saw his bone re-broken so it could be set in place and a plate was put in. The plate was removed in the second surgery, and he was told to wait 12 weeks before getting back into full training.
That was eight weeks ago.
"It's getting there. It's getting there.
"We've told the UFC I'm medically cleared – I can start lightly tapping now. We're still not quite at that 12 week mark … but I can start putting a little bit more weight on the hands now and just build into that 12 week mark."
While he's been unable to do much in the way of contact, he has been working with Kiwi Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning boxer David Nyika on a few drills.
"We're actually quite similar weights, too, with the weight that he fights at and the weight I walk around at so it's good for both of us."
While Jumeau, nicknamed the Jedi, has been on the sidelines, he's had to watch as the sport has begun to take off in New Zealand – thanks in large part to the contingent from Auckland's City Kickboxing gym, which accounts for four of the seven active UFC fighters from New Zealand - Israel Adesanya, Daniel Hooker, Kai Kara-France and Shane Young. Rob Whittaker and Mark Hunt train abroad.
He admits it's been a frustrating year not being able to be part of the Kiwi rise and the Anzac Takeover, but it's been something he can draw motivation from.
"I'm the type of person who always gets motivated by other people's success," he said.
"I just know if I put in some good work and have some good performances, I'll be there sooner rather than later."
Should Jumeau book a fight for the event in Adelaide in December, it will be the last of his initial four-fight contract.