It’s been a long road back to the Octagon for Australian heavyweight Soa “The Hulk” Palelei, but now he’s where he wants to stay.
The 36-year-old will make his promotional return at UFC 164 on Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
Palelei had a three-fight deal with the UFC back in 2007, but it didn’t go according to plan and he was cut after losing his debut fight to Eddie Sanchez. The Perth based fighter had to fly back to Australia in the final stages of his preparation when his son became ill and admits his entrance to the big show was premature.
“I went into the UFC prematurely and there were a lot of other factors that went into it as well,” Palelei told MMAWeekly.com. “I had a three-fight deal with the UFC, but when I lost I was told to get a couple more fights and then to come back.”
The Hulk has since gone 10-1 with his only loss being to Daniel Cormier. He has built his name on the local based CFC shows in Australia.
He was due to fight Stipe Miocic at UFC 161 in Winnipeg, but was removed from the card after Miocic was promoted to take on Roy Nelson. He is now slated to face the relatively unknown Ukrainian Nikita Krylov, who will become the youngest current UFC fighter at just 21 years of age.
“Once I got back from Winnipeg, I was straight back into training,” Palelei continued. “All I had to do was tone it down a bit. I actually think it was helpful in a way because I had to cut weight for Winnipeg as I was there as an alternate, so with this fight the weight cut was easy.
“I know that (Krylov) is in the UFC for a reason, so I’m definitely not taking him lightly. I don’t think that his age makes any difference, and for me it’s another fight that I have to work hard on,” he told TheMMACorner. “I’m really excited to jump back in there, do my thing and show the world what I can really do.”
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