Newcastle’s Soa ‘The Hulk’ Palelei hungry to fight on

admin | 杭州桑拿
9 Oct 2019

KNOCKOUT: Newcastle’s Soa ‘The Hulk’ Palelei will fight in Sydney on Saturday. Picture: Getty ImagesHAVING a change of opponent just three weeks from fight night causes chaos for most fighters, given they’ve spent months scouting their opposition, tailoring training to work on a specific fight plan.
Shanghai night field

But Newcastle-born Soa “The Hulk” Palelei is so focused he’s only concerned with the things in his control, and given the shape he’s in, whoever steps into the UFC Octagon at Allphones Arena in Sydney will be hard pressed to stop him.

Originally scheduled to fight tough Daniel Omielanczuk from Poland, he’ll now face American Walt Harris at UFC Fight Night 55.

Speaking to Palelei from Thailand, where he’s preparing, you can tell he’s all business.

“I’m here to train and focus on training. All you do here is wake up, train, go home, sleep, eat, wake up, train . . . so there’s no distraction.”

The 36-year-old, who was raised in Mayfield, is training at the Thai arm of the famed A.K.A. – home to current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and light-heavyweight title contender Daniel Cormier – and “The Hulk” is in career-best shape.

Today, November 8, he meets a man who he knows will be desperate.

Harris was cut from the UFC after tasting consecutive defeats to Jared Rosholt and Nikita Krylov. But an injury to Omielanczuk saw Harris granted a reprieve – something Palelei knows a thing or two about.

Palelei had his first taste of the UFC in 2007 when he arrived in the promotion with much fanfare before suffering a disappointing third-round TKO defeat to Eddie Sanchez.

The loss saw the UFC send Palelei packing at a time when the Australian was going through a turbulent period of his life.

But it was a loss that changed everything.

“A lot of things happened in 2007, just with family and things like that,” he said. “After that fight, I went back to Perth and sat on the couch for a couple of years and I woke up one day and thought, I don’t want to be 50 years old and thinking to myself, ‘I should have given it another shot’.

“That’s when I started pushing and training hard, and here I am.”

The long climb back to the UFC began, with the fighter splitting his time between several local promotions, before 10 wins in 11 fights saw Palelei given his chance at redemption.

His second stint in the promotion began well, with a TKO victory over Nikita Krylov, a man who has previously vanquished his UFC Fight Night 55 opponent Harris.

He followed that win with a first-round demolition of Pat Barry, repeating the dose in his next bout with Ruan Potts.

But in June this year, the plan came unstuck. Jared Rosholt brought Palelei’s climb up the rankings to a halt with a unanimous points victory. It ended Palelei’s 11-fight win streak.

But it won’t derail his dream: “It’s not really a setback; you just have to keep going forward. If you lose, you lose. You just have to get back on the horse and that’s what I’ve done.

“You’re going to lose, everyone has their losses, and it’s a wake-up call. After that fight it made me not want to lose again and that’s why I’m in Thailand. A lot of my camps were done in Australia but I’ve changed everything now and made the move over to Thailand and we’ll see what happens on November 8.”

For now, Palelei’s aim is to continue to climb the UFC heavyweight rankings to his MMA dreams, with defeats ensuring his UFC contract hangs in the balance.

“I want to make the top 10. I want to get the gold strap, but I want to keep pushing and keep improving and I’m excited for this fight, especially being in Sydney.”

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