Kiwi UFC newcomer Brad Riddell's opponent has been confirmed for his long-awaited promotional debut in Melbourne next month.
The 27-year-old Christchurch native will square off with Jamie Mullarkey in a trans-Tasman clash at UFC 243 on the undercard of City Kickboxing teammate Israel Adesanya's title unification clash with Robert Whittaker.
Mullarkey has been a force on the Australian fight circuit where he's amassed a record of 12-2, and is currently riding a four-fight win streak. That streak includes a TKO finish of Abel Brites, the only fighter to beat Riddell in an MMA bout. He'll also be making his first appearance with the UFC.
"Closed mouths don't get fed," Riddell told Newshub. "He got it, so now he's gets his wish to fight me."
The heavy-handed New Southwelshman offers a stern first-up test for Riddell, who's expecting a much-improved version of the fighter who was knocked out by training partner, good mate, and UFC title contender Alex Volkanovski in 2016.
"Alex has fought him but four years is a longtime in the fight game. That's a lifetime of improvement, I'm sure he's better.
"You can never underestimate anybody, so I'm taking him very seriously."
The 25-year-old Mullarkey campaigned on social media to be awarded the bout, where he claimed Riddell "hasn't fought the best Australia has to offer".
Although Riddell agrees with the sentiment, he says that isn't through lack of trying on his behalf.
"It's very true but the best guys in Australia didn't want to fight six months ago. These guys were trying to look after their records and asking for too much money every time I tried to fight them. They'd come up with some sort of excuse saying that I didn't have enough experience, but I've had more fights than they'd had hot meals.
"Now I'm on this platform they're starting to yell out and say they want to fight me because they want to get in the same thing and get everyone's eyes on them."
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The converted kickboxer is relieved to finally do away with the frustrations that come with matchmaking outside of a major organisation, allowing him to focus on letting his strikes do the talking.
"Yes you can earn more money, but the best thing about the UFC, the best thing about it is people can't really say no to fighting you. There are politics too, but where I am down in the trench, you fight who they tell you to fight.
"I got into this sport to fight people, not to dodge people, and I never have and I never will. Now I'm where I want to be."
A professional fighter since 18-years-old, 'Quake' brings a mountain of cage and ring experience with him into the Octagon. After years living in Thailand spent honing his beloved Muay Thai craft, the formerly "die hard" kickboxer switched his attention to MMA after returning to NZ in 2013, with some encouragement from City Kickboxing head trainer Eugene Bareman.
He's had his sights set on the UFC ever since and that windy road will come to a head at Marvel Stadium on October 6, where he'll have a golden opportunity to make a lasting first impression in front of a history-making audience.
"It's the closest thing you're going to get to being a gladiator in this modern world. 60,000 people screaming at two people to knock each other out, it's going to be crazy.
"That doesn't faze me. It hypes me. I want people to watch me. The amount of time I've put in at the gym and the amount of time I've spent perfecting my craft, I want everybody to see me perform, so that's what I'm going to go in there and do."
Riddell is the fourth New Zealander to be added to the Melbourne card, following Adesanya, Luke Jumeau, and Dan Hooker, who'll take on Al Iaquinta in the co-main event.
Join us for live updates of UFC 243: Adesanya v Whittaker on October 6