Melbourne is renowned for any number of things, and one of those things is its vibrant culture of street art.
Walk anywhere in and around the central business district, and you'll see everything from the tiniest letterbox to the largest of buildings adorned with intricate, colorful works by graffiti artists from across the spectrum.
Far from being regarded as a public nuisance or vandalism, the culture is warmly embraced in Melbourne, and is as much a part of its lifeblood as cricket, coffee, or Brighton Beach.
With UFC 243 on tap this week, it was a perfect synthesis to have this celebrated genre pay homage to perhaps the two biggest combat sports stars in all of Oceania: Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya.
Tasked with capturing the spirit of the event was renowned street artist MattyBro (on Instagram @MattyBro-Art) who painted Adesanya, and Lee Harnden aka LINZ (on Intagram at lrocka750) painted Whittaker. The men used the front walls of Melbourne's iconic Culture Kings shop as their canvas.
Drawing inspiration from their fighter nicknames, the left side of the building was devoted to champion Whittaker, who was given a brooding, deep red interpretation of his "Reaper" moniker.
On the right side, interim champ Adesanya is depicted morphing into full "Stylebender" mode.
Featured in UFC 243 Embedded, the artist of Adesanya's mural was surprised with a visit from his muse, who shut down the block with fans as he made his way to see himself memorialized in Melbourne.
“Well this just happened," he wrote on his Instragram page. "Got to meet and present this mural to the man @stylebender."
Deeply impressed, the Stylebender expressed his gratitude.
"I’m an artist myself. I know the time and effort it takes to create something like that. So for someone to put that kind of effort into this mug, it’s always appreciated."
For his part, Whittaker concedes that seeing himself in mural form is a signal that he's made it.
“I’ve always tried to be respectful and do my country proud. I’ve hit some pretty big milestones in the actual sport itself. So you’d think I’d be remembered," he said with a laugh.
Still, true to his personality, he seemed a bit uneasy being glorified on such a massive scale.
“It’s surreal, yes? It’s weird to see how much interest goes into it. It’s surreal."
Surreal, maybe. But it's hardly the first time either fighter has been commemorated in such a fashion. In fact, it's not even the first time recently.
Melbourne's Marvel Stadium played host to the most-attended fight in UFC history: Holly Holm's victory over Ronda Rousey at UFC 193. That same stadium will be needed to house all the Aussies and Kiwis who will show out to support the biggest combat sports stars their region has ever produced.
In anticipation of the historic contest, Marvel Stadium is also adorned with murals of the combatants.
"It never gets old," Adesanya says of seeing himself portrayed larger than life. "It never gets old."