Kiwi UFC fighters Israel Adesanya and Brad Riddell were superb during their victories at UFC 263 this afternoon, but their celebrations were subdued, as they paid respects to their fallen friend Fau Vake.
A fellow City Kickboxing fighter, Vake passed away in Auckland last month after allegedly being punched during an assault late at night. He was just 25 years old.
Riddell, fighting on the undercard to Adesanya's middleweight title fight, won by unanimous decision against American Drew Dober, and said he was driven by Vake's force.
"My friend got murdered two weeks ago, so I was never going to lose this fight," Riddell said after his victory.
"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.
"That walkout song might have sounded a little bit weird, but that was his walkout song so that was my tribute to his family because unfortunately he'll never be able to make this walk.
"I miss you Fau, I hope you're proud."
Adesanya dominated his title fight against Italian Marvin Vettori, cruising to victory by unanimous decision.
Like Riddell, Adesanya paid tribute to his late sparring partner, giving an emotional interview with commentator Joe Rogan.
"Like Brad said, one of our boys, one of our guys on the way up to the UFC got murdered. Let's not mince words, he got murdered by some thugs who are still walking around free.
"Fau Vake, I love you man. Willy, John, James, all the Vake fam, all love. This fight I dedicate to you Fau," Adesanya said, before laying the belt on the floor and kissing the mat.
"Even in his last sparring with me, he whooped my a**. So I have to give you credit Fau, I’m never gonna get that one back but I’m glad you whooped my a** in your last sparring."
One man was charged with manslaughter for Vake's death earlier this week, while three other men have also been charged, including for intent to injure and common assault.
All charges have now been transferred to the High Court in Auckland, where the four men are due to appear on June 23.
No plea has been entered yet for any of the charges, with the four men on remand until the High Court appearance.
Interim name suppression remains in place for all four men.