Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

UFC: Big Show's big Auckland test

Oz opponent defending 11-fight winning streak

When Jared Rosholt took a knee to the face during one of his first mixed martial arts training sessions he knew it was his type of combat.

The American is one of Oklahoma State University's most decorated wrestlers but he was after something more when he finished studying in 2010.

His older brother Jake has appeared in the UFC previously and Rosholt joined him during a trip to Las Vegas a few years ago where they went for a workout with former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin.

"We were just doing drills and stuff; he was going easy but I took him down like three or four times in a row," Rosholt recalled. "Then the fifth time, I went for a shot and he hit me with a knee right to the face. I didn't have any clue what I was doing ... I thought: 'Well, this is pretty fun.'"

Rosholt won his MMA debut in 2011 and has triumphed in 10 of his 11 career bouts with the only blot coming when he was stopped by Derrick Lewis at Legacy FC 13 two years ago.

The 27-year-old, known as "The Big Show", made his UFC debut with a unanimous decision victory over Walt Harris last year but will face his biggest challenge to date at UFC Fight Night 43 in Auckland's Vector Arena on Saturday night.

Standing in the way of Rosholt scoring his seventh-straight win is Australian Soa "The Hulk" Palelei (21-3), who is on an 11-fight winning streak across a range of promotions.

Palelei is ranked 14th in the UFC's heavyweight division, which gives the unranked Rosholt the opportunity to announce himself. "There's a lot riding on this fight," Rosholt said.

There are whispers of a date with a top-10 opponent for the winner of this bout and a small run of victories helps push your case.

This weekend's event will be headlined by Kiwi James Te Huna, who will meet American Nate Marquardt in a five-round middleweight stoush.

- APNZ

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