UFC: Palelei coming to Auckland

By Daniel Richardson

Australian heavyweight Soa Palelei will meet American Jared Rosholt in the latest bout to be added to UFC Fight Night Auckland. Photo / File.
Australian heavyweight Soa Palelei will meet American Jared Rosholt in the latest bout to be added to UFC Fight Night Auckland. Photo / File.

Australian heavyweight Soa Palelei will meet American Jared Rosholt in the latest bout to be added to UFC Fight Night Auckland: Te Huna v Marquardt at Vector Arena next month.

Palelei, currently riding an 11-fight win streak spanning more than three years across a range of promotions, knocked out South African Ruan Potts in the first round of their brawl at UFC Fight Night: Brown v Silva in Cincinnati, Ohio during the weekend.

Standing 1.93m and weighing 120kg, the Perth-based Palelei (21-3) lives up to his nickname of `The Hulk' and his fight with the 10-1 Rosholt will add some much-needed bulk, figuratively and literally, to the Auckland card, which will take place on June 28.

Kiwi James Te Huna will headline the night in a five-round middleweight bout against American Nate Marquardt but the other scheduled fights lacked a touch of star quality, until now.

Palelei, who has worked with Kiwi veteran Mark Hunt during their respective training camps in the past, catapulted himself to 15th in the UFC's heavyweight rankings after his victory over Potts and is an exciting drawcard given 17 of his 21 career victories have come via knockout.

After a one-fight stint in the UFC in 2007, where he was defeated by Eddie Sanchez via knockout, Palelei is making a much better fist of his second dig.

The 36-year-old has won his past three fights in the world's biggest MMA promotion and has shown an impressive ground-and-pound game, while he is also a strong wrestler.

"Now I'm here, and I deserve to be here. I'm going to keep learning, keep pushing and keep climbing up the ranks,'' Palelei said in his post-fight press conference in Cincinnati on Sunday.

"My last 11 fights have been knockouts, and my ground-and-pound, if I get on top of you, you're not going anywhere. It's one of those that it's always good to get a win like that.''

Rosholt, who will put his six-fight winning streak on the line, is undefeated in his first two UFC bouts since joining the promotion last year and the 1.88m-by-110kg 27-year-old is an accomplished collegiate wrestler from Oklahoma State.

The Palelei v Rosholt bout brings the Auckland card to seven fights, although more are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

The final card will likely sit around 12 bouts and there's a strong possibility more Kiwis will be added to the card with a women's fight also rumoured.

Meanwhile, in a change to the Auckland card, the UFC confirmed today that Australian light heavyweight Anthony Perosh has been ruled out due to injury and American Sean O'Connell (15-5) will now face Gian Villante (11-5) instead.

- APNZ

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