It was ironic to hear Alex Volkanovski jokingly declare "I'm the heel now" so soon after winning over mass doubters on Sunday.
It was only half tongue-in-cheek. Certainly his title reign has provided a lesson the fickle nature of combat sports fandom.
Everyone loved the little Aussie battler on the way up, even fans of his great rival Max Holloway. The Hawaiian had reigned so dominantly over the division, fans welcomed the chance to see him challenged by the likeable Australian.
Beaten though? Not so much. Twice? That really antagonised the keyboard warriors.
Indeed the controversial nature of their last meeting - a split decision win to Volkanovski - has loomed over even the build-up to Sunday's fight with Brian Ortega.
Never mind the fact he out-landed Holloway in significant strikes, at a strike rate of 50 per cent, or that he secured three takedowns to zip.
Never mind either, that the judge who scored the fight for Holloway gave the Hawaiian the fifth round; the one that was clearly the most dominant for the Aussie.
It's even seen revisionists make the ludicrous claim that Holloway won their first fight. To suggest that meeting saw anything but utter dominance from Volkanovski suggests one wasn't even watching at all.
Entertaining, sure. Competitive, you bet.However, much like Volkanovski's fight of the year contender with Ortega on Sunday, good judges had it a five-round shutout to the Aussie.
It shows how quickly things can turn, particularly in the fight game. It's something the 33-year-old champion noted following his win on Sunday.
"There's always going to be doubters no matter what you do," Volkanovski said.
"Let them hate, let them carry on, I love it. I love proving them wrong. The crowd booing me, I absolutely loved that shit and used it as fuel.
"I'll say time and time again, I love that underdog mentality. I know I'm better than these fighters, but I'm just going keep telling myself 'you need to do more, you need to do more'.
"I no one does more than me, but this is what I tell myself. That's what gets me up in the morning and has me doing what I'm doing."
It's damn near impossible for any fan not to love what they saw from the Wollongong native on Sunday.
To escape not one, but three, deep choke holds from the division's best submission artist was impressive enough.
To finish so definitively over the top of the challenger on both occasions to claim the fight in a shut-out removed any questions about his legitimacy.
He's now 2-0 against a guy many consider the GOAT of the division in Holloway. He's also beaten the guy (Joe Aldo) nominated by the rest.
More performances like the one he produced on Sunday, and he'll force his way into that conversation.
"Jose Also was the champion for so long that's why I still say he's the GOAT. But I'm not far off," Volkanovski said.
"It wasn't that long ago we saw Max in this exact same position, no one giving him the respect he deserves when he was kicking everyone's arse.
"How long was his winning streak before he even got a title shot? All that bullshit, it happens. I'm just going through that process.
"I'll just keep doing what I'm doing. You take out guys like Max Holloway twice, Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, Ortega... you can't not throw my name around there."
Still, until their inevitable third meeting, Holloway fans will stay as salty as the flats of Lake Illawarra.
It says as much about the division as it does about anything else.
Its longest-reigning champion Aldo has long been seen off (twice by Holloway and once by Volkanovski). He's now campaigning at bantamweight where he's 2-2.
Previous gatekeepers like Frankie Edgar and Chad Mendes are also spent as title forces having been taken out by Holloway and Volkanovski respectively.
The now vanquished Ortega has tried and failed to unseat both men. He won his right to challenge Volkanovski for the title via a dominant win over fourth-ranked Chan Sung Jung.
Before that, Holloway saw off an over-matched Calvin Kattar (#5) in a five-round beatdown in January. He will be heavily favoured to beat third ranked Yair Rodriguez in November, the Mexican having not fought since October 2019.
Credit to Holloway for staying busy. Others in his position have bided their time and let a public clamour and position a company posterboy do the talking for him.
For that, Volkanovski gives him props.
"I guarantee you Max doesn't have to take this [Rodriguez] fight, and he's still going to go take it," he said.
"He wants that number one spot, he wants to earn it, it shows you what type of guy he is. How can you not respect that?
"Good on him, that's exactly what I would do. Yair Rodriguez is a great fighter... stylistically, Max is a nightmare for him.
"I'm expecting Max to go out there and do his thing and we're going to be running that trilogy. Dana [White's] going to pay us good money for it.
"I want these challenges, these big fights. That's going to be a huge fight so, whoever it is, let's do it."
It may seem to be Volkanovski will still have more to prove, but where does Holloway go if he comes up empty against the champ for a third time?
That's as big a question as any faced by the Aussie.