It took less than two rounds in Boston last weekend for Ghana's Abdul Razak Alhassan to show Welterweight division rivals and combat sports fans that his victory at UFC 218 over Sabah Homasi was no fluke.
Judo Thunder's ferocious uppercut that put Homasi on the mat at UFC 220 on Saturday night earned the 32-year-old from Accra the performance of the night award and put the UFC on notice as to the next African fighter to watch.
Alhassan told KweséESPN about the disrespect he felt after the first fight in December, when he felt he couldn't celebrate his victory. That fight was stopped via TKO in the first round, much to the crowd's, and Homasi's, displeasure. But there was no doubt about it the second time.
"After that fight everybody was booing like I really didn't beat him. I know I dropped him with the punch. So when the UFC came to the back and asked me for a rematch, I was like 'let's get it on,'" the Ghanaian said.
As for any changes made ahead of the second meeting, less than a month later, Alhassan added: "Just a little tweak.
"This time we knew he was going to come in with a lot of takedowns, because in the first fight when I went to the ground he had a lot of success with the elbows, so we knew this time he was going to try and take me down. So that's where we had to do a little tweak."
Alhassan added that he broke his own rules ahead of the second fight, doing something he'd avoided for his entire MMA career.
"Before, I never watched anybody's fights. I never watch fights. When I fought him the first time I never watched any of his fights. That's how I do, I do not watch anybody, but after [the first fight], he was the first person I actually went and watched all his previous fights."
That bit of homework paid off in the punch that knocked Homasi out, and Alhassan reflected on the thought pattern that preceded it: "I like throwing a lot of overhand rights but my coaches were telling me throw straight punches, jab cross.
"The first time when we got up, I threw uppercut and then a right cross and I saw him duck to the right side. I knew if I jump in again he's gonna duck to the right side and that's when I switched into uppercut and that's when he fell right into it."
Prior to the fight in Boston, fellow African welterweight Kamaru Usman offered some sage advice, which Alhassan took to heart: "Just stay calm and collected. Take your time.
"Usually when I go into a fight I'm hyped up. I'm so pumped up I just want to go in there but during the fight I could hear Kamaru's voice telling me calm down. That's what happens when you have good brothers looking out for you."
But Alhassan also gets a lot of advice, wanted or not, from his actual brother, who lives in London and is a fellow Judoka.
"Even after the last fight he called me and was like, 'Why are you fighting like that? Take your time. Why are you trying to brawl with everybody, you don't have to brawl. Take your time. Go back to your Judo, you have to use it.'"
As for the rest of his family in Ghana, and a sister in Germany, they get to watch his fights on Facebook and on different media platforms when possible.
But as more Africans get involved in the UFC, the possibility of an event in Africa is a legitimate possibility that intrigues Alhassan: "That will be amazing, because I think the UFC do not know how strong we are in Africa.
"We have the heart, we are brave. We just don't have a lot of the equipment there. I know if they start investing in Africa, they will see a lot of amazing fighters come out of Africa. It's been like five years now [since I've been back].
"It would be amazing for them to have a card there so I can go there."