Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa will put their 100 per cent records on the line and fight for the UFC middleweight title in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Middleweight champion Adesanya had spoken of chasing big-money fights with Jon Jones and even Conor McGregor.
But for now the Nigeria-born New Zealander has a score to settle with Costa and fight fans are undoubtedly relishing the pair mixing it in the Octagon at UFC 253.
WHY THE HYPE?
Because these guys have been on a collision course for some time and only a biceps injury sustained by Costa made the wait so long.
Jibes have been thrown back and forth, with Costa accusing Adesanya of ducking the challenge of former light-heavyweight king Jones.
Adesanya has something to prove after an underwhelming win via unanimous decision against Yoel Romero back in March, and his kick-boxing brilliance and Costa's pressure fighting make this a bout of real intrigue.
Adesanya became the UFC's interim middleweight champion with a unanimous decision victory over Kelvin Gastelum in a classic in April 2019. He then defeated the legendary Robert Whittaker in October with a stunning knockout to unify the division.
Each of Costa's first four wins in a UFC ring came via way of KO/TKO and in August 2019 he defeated Romero via unanimous decision.
WHAT'S THEIR MMA RECORD (W-L-D)?
TALE OF THE TAPE
Height: 6'4" (193cm)
Weight: 185lbs (84kg)
Leg reach: 44.5"
Height: 6'1" (185cm)
Weight: 185lbs (84kg)
Leg reach: 39.5"
WHAT THEY'VE SAID
Adesanya referred to Costa as an "inflated balloon animal" back in June and during his media activities ahead of UFC 253 made a figure out of balloons to impersonate Costa, saying: "Hey guys, my name is Paulo Costa. I'm the Eraser and I'm going to be the champion. Israel, I will erase you." Adesanya then twisted the balloons until they popped…
In controversial comments to Submission Radio in August, Costa said: "I have just one question. Adesanya, why are you freezing when you face Romero? You're not a real champion, man. You don't deserve. I will kill you."
FIGHT STATS IN UFC
- Adesanya has connected with 503 of his 1,032 attempted significant strikes, a success rate of 49 per cent.
- Of his successful strikes, 88 per cent have come from a standing position.
- On the defensive side, Adesanya has guarded against 87 per cent of takedown attempts.
- He has also seen off 66 per cent of strikes against him.
- Costa has landed 307 of his 531 attempted significant strikes, giving him a success rate of 58 per cent.
- As with Adesanya, Costa tends to strike from a standing position - with 82 per cent coming via that method.
- He has successfully blocked 80 per cent of takedown attempts against him.
- Costa has also thwarted 54 per cent of strikes from his opponents.