Kiwi Brad Riddell has paid tribute to a fallen teammate after a stunning UFC 263 win over Drew Dober.
The three-round lightweight bout headlined the preliminary card on a night where Israel Adesanya will defend his middleweight title against Marvin Vettori.
Their City Kickboxing teammate Fau Vake died in May due to injuries suffered after an alleged coward punch assault - also known as a king hit or a sucker punch - while waiting for a taxi on Auckland's Symonds Street on May 23.
Riddell, who thrilled the Arizona crowd alongside Dober in an action-packed fight, cast an emotional figure during a post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
"My friend got murdered two weeks ago, so I was never going to lose this fight," Riddell says. "I had a driving force that was bigger than me and I'm very, very grateful that I still get to walk on this planet.
"The walkout song might have seemed a little bit weird but that was his walkout song.
"That was my tribute to his family because unfortunately he'll never get to make this walk again but I miss you Fau and I hope you're proud."
Vake sustained critical injuries in the alleged assault and died following a week at Auckland Hospital.
Four men have appeared in Auckland District Court in relation to Vake's death with one man charged with manslaughter while other charges were laid to the four men face included assaulting with intent to injure and common assault.
The 25-year-old was a promising mixed martial artist at the Auckland-based kickboxing school City Kickboxing, known for training prominent fighter Israel Adesanya.
Riddell's win will see him ranked inside the top 15 of the lightweight division next week, with his Octagon record improving to 4-0.