Kiwi welterweight Luke Jumeau will make his long-awaited return to the Octagon against Dhiego Lima at UFC 243 in Melbourne on October 6.
Jumeau's bout is just the third to be confirmed for the blockbuster event so far, which will be headlined by Israel Adesanya's middleweight title unification clash with Robert Whittaker.
'The Jedi' hasn't fought since his unanimous decision win over Daichi Abe back in February 2018, where he suffered a broken hand that has since denied him the chance to capitalise on that momentum, re-injuring it before his originally scheduled return against Geoff Neal in December 2018.
But the Hamiltonian believes those setbacks were a blessing in disguise, having allowed him to tend to some weaknesses and upgrade his all-round skillset, which he's now eager to test drive.
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"I've just stayed positive," Jumeau told Newshub. "We've worked on heaps of holes in my game. I'm sharper than I've ever been, I'm stronger than I've ever been, I just can't wait. The hunger is back in full force."
Spotlights don't come any brighter than the one that will be shining on the Victorian capital on October 6, where an anticipated capacity crowd of 60,000 at Marvel Stadium will set a new UFC attendance record.
The card is still in its formative stages but should ultimately have a distinctly Australasian flavour to it. Further to the NZ v Australia main act, Sydney's Tai Tuivasa has also been confirmed to take on Sergey Spivak. Dan Hooker is chasing a spot on the back of his emphatic performance in San Antonio, and Kai Kara-France and Shane Young have registered interest. Featherweight contender Alexander Volkanovski's bout against the winner of Max Holloway v Frankie Edgar is also strongly rumoured to be added.
Jumeau (13-4) realises it's an ideal opportunity to re-establish his presence in the division, in front of what will be a staunch hoard of supporters in his corner for his fourth UFC contest.
"The stage is set for me to really make a statement. The energy of the Anzacs and all the Kiwis that are going over - it's almost going to be like a hometown crowd scenario. You just can't beat having that energy on your side."
His opponent Lima - the brother of Bellator middleweight contender Douglas Lima - is in the midst of his second stint in the UFC.
The Brazilian-American made his way into the promotion by way of The Ultimate Fighter reality show, but was cut after two consecutive losses a year later. He then earned his way back on the roster the same way he'd first entered, this time through The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption season, which offered veterans a chance to re-prove themselves.
A rangey striker with an array of submissions in his tool belt, the 30-year-old is now on a two-fight win streak, with his most recent effort a unanimous decision win against Court McGee in April.
"This is what I got into it for - to fight the best dudes in the world and all the hype that comes with that," added Jumeau. "This is what I live for.
"I'm going to go out there and expose him and just put on a show. I'm going to bite that mouthpiece and we're going to go to war."
The Core MMA-product is already into the early stages of his training camp under the tutelage of renowned Kiwi coach Lolo Heimuli. He'll also head north each weekend to spend time at Auckland hotbed City Kickboxing.
Despite the 18-month hiatus, Jumeau has no concerns regarding 'Octagon rust', with complete faith that the work he's put in at the gym will speak for itself.
"I just believe in drills pay the bills. You're going to go in there and see what you've been drilling and the body is going to react to it. If you put the work in outside of the fight, it's pretty much auto-pilot.
"You're going to see a new 'Jedi' out there."