It's been quite a good year for UFC heavyweight newcomer Soa Palelei. The Australian made his Octagon return earlier this year scoring a third round TKO over the Nikita Krylov. He easily topped his return last night with a first round knockout of Pat Barry.
"The Hulk" was happy with the victory, which stretched his win streak to ten:
“It is a big win, and especially against Pat. But I’m happy to be representing Australia, and putting Australia and Perth on the map.”
Palelei debuted for the company back in December 2007, where he was TKO'd by Eddie Sanchez in the third round at UFC 79. His second fight in the company was a win but it failed to impress, as he beat Krylov in a lacklustre fight.
So Palelei wanted to make his third fight for the organization one to remember. "The Hulk" did just that. After avoiding a few low kicks from Barry, Palelei landed a takedown and it was downhill for "HD" from there.
“I’ve been doing it for the past 16 years,” Palelei said. “I’m a first-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. I’m really confident that if I get on top of you, you ain’t getting me off. I know what his punches are like, and I knew Pat wouldn’t hit harder than Mark,” he said. “But I had to watch out for Pat’s kicks, because he’s got some real dangerous kicks.”
At 36 years old, Palelei may not have a lot of time left to impact the heavyweight division, so he wants to spent as much time fighting as possible.
“If the UFC tells me to fight another show, I’m happy to hop in there,” he said. “I’ll take a few weeks for Christmas break, but I’m ready.”
After his impressive first round victory, Palelei hopes he has sent a message across the heavyweight division. "The Hulk" is now 2-1 in the UFC and 12-1 in his last 13, with 12 finishes.
“I respect Pat as an athlete and a sportsman,” Palelei said. “He’s a really dangerous fighter. I was really worried about his kicks, but I played my game and hopefully, I made a statement today.”
Palelei did indeed make a statement. With his impressive win over Barry, the Australian shot himself up the heavyweight rankings. "The Hulk" seems to have found a new stride in his step. He never took any damage against Barry so he could be back in the Octagon sooner than later.
With the heavyweight division's relative lack of depth, he could find himself up against a top ranked opponent next. What do you think of "The Hulk's" win at UFC Fight Night33? Is there anyone who you want to see him fight next?