COACHING in combat sport is a very inexact science, but it's not hard to see why Bryan Battle and UFC featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski clicked.
Battle was Team Volk's last pick in the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter but, by the time filming wrapped, he was certain the 26-year-old was the No. 1 middleweight.
They developed a handy coach and fighter relationship, but it was the carpenter and the concreter that were truly cut from the same cloth.
Volkanovski fit his first forays into the MMA world around pouring cement, while Battle spent most of his time building furniture from scratch.
Like Volkanovski, Battle came to the sport with no background in a specific discipline and built an MMA fighter from the ground up.
Through the series, Battle revealed he started at heavyweight, two divisions higher than where he now campaigns, and "got his head kicked off."
The only loss of Volkanovski's career came at welterweight (two divisions higher than where he now reigns as world champion) way back in 2013.
They're two guys familiar with the grind of building things from scratch, in and out of the cage.
"Alex is a really smart, really hard-working guy, so when he sees someone who's really working and really applying themselves it's something he can easily identify with and appreciate," Battle said.
"I would say I adjusted better than a lot of guys on the show. It was something that none of us had ever done before, and very few people will ever have to do, where you fight so quickly in such rapid succession.
"You've got no idea who you're going to fight, you have a week to game plan so you have to make adjustments. There was nothing normal about what we were doing.
"I think I was able to make adjustments and just hear what Volk was saying, what the coaches were saying, hear how they wanted us to fight and how they wanted me to fight. That paid huge dividends."
The biggest dividend is a middleweight spot in the TUF finale this Sunday (Australian time) on the undercard to UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs Chikadze.
Battle was the man who turned an 0-4 slide for Team Volk in the prelim rounds and took out rival coach Brian Ortega's first pick, Andre Petroski, by submission in the semi-finals.
It prompted Volkanovski to yell "I told you" to grinning UFC supremo Dana White cage-side. The belief wasn't lost on Battle.
"Hearing what he said behind the scenes watching the show meant a lot to me," Battle said.
"Alex being the fighter he is, being as good as he is, it was really, really cool. It was pretty surreal to hear him saying stuff like that.
"At the same time, that's why I train the way I do. It's why I work hard, so I can be the best. I wasn't just there to hang out, I want to win the whole thing."
Beyond the mat, Battle says he took as much away from Volkanovski's loyalty to his first, and only, head coach Joe Lopez.
Just as people told Volkanovski he couldn't reach UFC title heights out of little old Freestyle Fight Gym on Windang Road, Battle has heard similar things about Hayastan MMA in Charlotte North Carolina.
Unlike Australia, there's enough 'mega-gyms' across the US to give the impression success can't be achieved without them. Battle feels several champions, including Volkanovski, are proving it's not the case.
"His relationship with Uncle Joe [Lopez] was something that really clicked with how I feel about me and my coaches," Battle said.
"There's a really big misconception on what it takes, training-wise, to be a high-level fighter. Everyone thinks you have to be at a mega-gym.
"We're seeing with a lot of fighters, Stipe [Miocic], Max Holloway, Volk, they're still with their original coaches. You can go and get work from other camps, but they're primarily with their original coaches, still thriving, still growing.
"As long as you're still growing and developing I think you can do a lot no matter what the size of the place you train at. Volk having his original coach, not being from a mega-gym, his meteoric rise and journey up... it's really cool.
"There are a lot of parallels and it was something I could ask his advice on because he's been where I'm at."
Battle had been scheduled to face big-punching Tresean Gore in the middleweight decider before Team Ortega's only finalist was forced to withdraw with a knee injury.
It's a trend that's beset a number of previous planned bouts between the pair on the regional scene and will now see Battle take on Team Volk teammate Gilbert Urbina.
"I would have really liked to fight Tresean because a lot of people think he'd have done better against me than he would've," Battle said.
"It would have been gratifying to get a shot at that but fighting Gilbert instead of Tresean, it'll be a fun fight.
"It's been a wild experience, a very long process with TUF in general. It does almost feel like I'm getting thrown in on short notice even though I've known about this fight for 12 weeks.
"[You saw] how much I changed over the course of the show, you can expect that and more in this fight because I've had more time. You can [expect] me to put on the best performance I've ever put on."
Beyond Sunday's finale, the ultimate TUF score-settler looms at UFC 266 on September 26 when the Aussie champ defends his title against Ortega.
Having witnessed the dynamic on the show, Battle will be a keen spectator - and he has little doubt about the result.
"It's not like a blood rivalry or anything but they definitely don't like each other," Battle said.
"On the show, they don't show everything, so you think you know why they feel the way they do but they don't show it all. There's definitely some bad blood and it'll be fun.
"I can't wait for their fight. I think Volk is going to beat the brakes off Ortega and it's going to be awesome."