Talk to any combat sports coach and they'll tell you the same story.
Footy player wanders into the gym looking to make a natural transition to the fight game only to realise that the transition isn't all that natural.
It usually takes just a few minutes for them to realise it's a different world and walk out with a bruised ego.
Freestyle Fighting Gym head coach Joe Lopez certainly has a few of those yarns, more than a few actually, but Alex Volkanovski was a very different beast.
Sure, he was a local footy player of note, a prop with the Warilla Gorillas, but it quickly became clear he belonged on the mat more than the footy paddock.
"I remember it clearly. We had a couple of other gyms down here sparring," Lopez said.
"At that stage I had a heavyweight I wanted to put up against this other up and coming heavyweight who'd had four or five fights. I was gloving my heavyweight up but Alex already had his stuff on.
"The other guy's coach threw Alex in there and I thought 'oh no'. I wanted the other guy to get a bit tired before I put Alex into what his first spar.
"Then within a minute he's submitted this guy and I thought 'wow this kid's got something'. He submitted him again and after he was done I asked 'have you ever considered competing?'
"He said it'd always been a dream of his to have a fight. I said 'all right I'll see what I can do for you'. I guess the rest is history."
For the record, 'the rest' refers to a 19-1 record, a seven-year undefeated streak at featherweight and six consecutive UFC victories.
This Sunday [Australian time] shapes as their biggest test to date, taking on Brazilian legend Jose Aldo in Rio, a shot at the UFC featherweight strap beckoning a single rung above.
Then within a minute he's submitted this guy and I thought 'wow this kid's got something'. He submitted him again and after he was done I asked 'have you ever considered competing?'
Having watched the evolution of his charge over the best part of a decade, Lopez is not at all surprised to see Volkanovski on that stage, but he admits he's surprised to still be watching from such close quarters.
For all the sport's rapidly expanding global reach, the belief that fighters need to shift to bigger gyms and teams in US to reach the elite level in the sport still lingers.
The higher Volkanovski climbed up that ladder, there were inevitably more people in his ear trying to convince him that Windang could not be the platform for a UFC title charge.
For his part, Lopez would not have been bitter had his longtime protege listened.
"When he first got into the UFC people probably thought he'd leave this gym and go somewhere else," Lopez said.
"I always want the best for my fighters and when he went to Tiger [Muay Thai] and was away for 12 months I thought he wouldn't want me in his corner anymore.
"He came back early for me to corner him in his fights. He said 'no, no you always finetune everything and I feel more comfortable with you being there'.
"It made me feel a bit special because he had all those guys that are high-level guys from all around the world there but he still wanted to come back here. It made the bond stronger."
It may have been humbling for his coach but Volkanovski shrugs it off as a no-brainer.
"Joe's been there since day one so he knows how much I want it and he wants it so much for me," Volkanovski says.
"He's always wanted to coach someone into the UFC and I've always wanted to be in the UFC. We've done it all together so it's a pretty cool story.
"We've put a lot of time an a lot of effort into it. It's been eight years and some people might think that's a short time to be where I'm at but there's a lot of hours in the gym.
"I'm here all hours of the day and Joe's with me pretty much 100 per cent of the time.
"We always have a good laugh at things and enjoy the process but, at the same time, we have a real appreciation for it. We appreciate where we've both come from."
In many ways it's where they've come from that is the greatest source of pride for Lopez, who insists Alex remains the same person he was when he first talked of giving this MMA thing a crack.
"I think he deserves everything he gets. He's a good human being, in and and out of the cage," Lopez said.
"He's got so much respect for people, his fans, he's always got time for everyone. He's still the same guy. We're pretty similar in that way.
"We just go through the process and do the same things we've always done. We're at this high level but we're still the same knockabout blokes who love the banter and having a joke.
"When I first got the gym [boxing trainer] Billy Corbett asked me 'what do you want out of this?' This was when the UFC was still underground it wasn't mainstream at all.
"I said I wanted to get a guy into the UFC, that was my goal in opening the place up. When we both had that same goal, we had that same determination that we wanted to get there.
"We've spent a lot of time together, our wives reckon we're the real married couple, but to be where we are now is pretty special."
Indeed it is a good story, but there's a lot more to the relationship than mere sentimentality. The pair haven't built a 16-fight win streak on warm and fuzzy's alone.
Volkanovski still makes good use of his time at Thailand's Tiger Muay Thai and Auckland's City Kickboxing where he's a training partner of interim UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya.
He's done the same this camp in preparation for Aldo, but the 30-year-old says the little gym on Windang Road will always be his home.
"I obviously train at City Kickboxing and Tiger Muay Thai, we've got a good relationship with all those gyms, but I always base myself out of Windang," Volkanovski said.
"No one knows me better than Joe so we can really work my game and add the tools we want. We learn together as well.
"When I go and spar people who throw something at me I haven't seen before we both learn from that. Then I get to come home here and focus on those things.
"We know what we want to do to our opponents. I want implement my game and no one knows my game better than Joe."
In that regard, fighter and trainer will need to be right on point come Sunday. Aldo has faded in recent years but remains, in the eyes of most judges, the best featherweight of all time.
Having looked finished after consecutive brutal losses to reigning featherweight king Max Holloway, the 32-year-old has dismantled legitimate contenders Jeremy Stephens and Renato Moicano in his past two outings.
The fight will also be taking place in a city and country where Aldo is feted as a god by the most passionate MMA fans on the planet.
It's anything but just another fight but the pair will make the same quietly confident into the bout with the same quiet confidence they've taken into all 20 of their previous outings.
"People are asking me 'what's your plan for Aldo' and I say Aldo's got to worry about our game plan now," Lopez said.
"Alex wants that world title, he's hungry. I think once he cops some right hands off Alex, he's going to think I don't want to be here anymore. That's what happened to Chad Mendes.
"You can't underestimate Jose Aldo. When he got beat up by [Max] Holloway twice everyone washed him up but in his last two fights he's shown he's still a really dangerous fighter.
"We know it's going to be a hard fight. He deserves all the accolades and praise that he gets but we're going in there to beat him and hopefully retire him as well."
Sports writer. Sport is my passion, rugby league my first love.
Sports writer. Sport is my passion, rugby league my first love.
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