UFC president Dana White believes Israel Adesanya is the "next big superstar" of mixed martial arts (MMA) after the Kiwi successfully defended his middleweight title against Paulo Costa on Sunday (NZ time).
At UFC 253 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, Adesanya silenced his critics with a comprehensive win over Brazilaian rival Costa with a second round TKO win.
'The Last Stylebender' used his height and reach advantage to perfection, maintaining range and softening Costa up with a devastating array of leg kicks, before beginning the fight-ending sequence with a stinging head kick, a left hand, then swooping with shots from above to force the referee to step in.
The Nigerian-born Kiwi had been criticised after his defence to Yoel Romero last time out in March, but he showed his true class against Romera, to extend his MMA record to 20-0.
UFC chief White believes that Adesanya has what is required to be a UFC superstar.
"I think he's gonna be the new Adesanya of the division," says White.
"'He's got his own style and his own way about him. I think he's gonna be the next big superstar here, especially after tonight's performance."
Adesanya's performance inside the Octagon saw him claim the US$50,000 (NZ$76,501) 'Performance of the Night' bonus.
The 31-year-old wants to defend his title against American Jared Cannonier next if he defeats Robert Whittaker in his quest to clear out the middleweight division.
Adesanya beat NZ-born Aussie Whittaker last year to win the middleweight title.
"I think Jared's going to dust Robert Whittaker and I look forward to fighting him," says Adesanya.
"I think he's going to get it done. I'm rooting for him.
"But if Robert Whittaker wins and he wants to get knocked out a third time, I can make that happen, too."