SHELLHARBOUR'S Alex "The Hulk" Volkanovski has continued his meteoric rise in Mixed Martial Arts, winning the 85-kilogram Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Australian Championships at Liverpool last weekend.
Incredibly, it was Volkanovski's first attempt at that combat sport, and follows some incredible results throughout his two-year MMA career.
He won all three bouts on the day to take the title.
Once best known as a stocky front-rower for the Warilla-Lake South Gorillas first grade rugby league team, he retired from the sport after starring in his side's 2011 South Coast competition grand final, where he was awarded Man of the Match.
During that season he had tried his hand at MMA and Volkanovski said the decision to tackle the sport seriously was something he just had to do.
"I am a pretty competitive sort of guy and I wasn't going to make the big league in rugby league, whereas I can certainly go a long way in MMA," the 24-year-old said.
"It is keeping me pretty busy now, so I think I made the right decision.
"Before the weekend I had won seven of my eight MMA fights, with the only loss coming at the hands of a guy who holds around eight Australian titles and is ranked No.3 in the world.
"So I can take the experience of that bout under my belt and learn from that.
"It was in Melbourne and in a ring instead of a cage, which is something I hadn't experienced.
"Last weekend I competed on a mat for the first time, so it's all a learning experience."
He said the skills acquired as an Australian junior wrestling champion helped him achieve his initial MMA success.
Saturday's event was part of the Australia Cup, featuring many different MMA disciplines on display.
Volkanovski won his first bout on points (17-0), and the semi-final and final with early submissions.
"Yeah, you can say I am pretty stoked to win an Australian title," he said.
"I have a few plans in the future and am keen to keep this good form going, but I really couldn't do it without my sponsors Aussie Supps Shellharbour, Club O2 Warilla and the Freestyle Fighting Gym at Windang."
It was a successful day for the Freestyle Fighting Gym. Jayden Bojlevski, Jake Fanke and Colby Thicknesse, who all train there, each earned silver medals.