The notion of luck being on one's side is not something Ben Sosoli has ever had the chance to get familiar with.
From broken bones in his rugby-playing days to bizarre stoppages in his mixed martial arts career, luck has never been with him. But fighting through the setbacks, Sosoli has found his way into the UFC – with his debut set against American knockout artist Greg Hardy in Boston on October 19 (NZ time).
The booking came as a surprise after Sosoli's recent bout on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series – where fighters are selected to audition for a UFC contract – ended in a no-contest as his opponent couldn't fight through an accidental eye poke.
After the bout, UFC boss Dana White said he would be giving Sosoli another chance to fight for a UFC contract as part of the Looking For A Fight series, but has instead given him an opportunity on the biggest stage in MMA.
The Contender Series was Sosoli's second audition for the UFC, after he competed in season 28 of the Ultimate Fighter but was eliminated early in the tournament.
"That guy has got nothing but bad luck," UFC boss Dana White said of the Melbourne-based Sosoli.
"I took him straight out of the Contender Series, put him in the fight and hopefully his luck can change and nothing weird happens in that fight. Hardy is an animal who loves to come out and bang. Stylistically this should be a great fight for both guys and may the best man win."
A former rugby player in South Auckland, the Sydney-born Sosoli suffered a leg injury that required surgery to repair. Being out of action an unable to get out on his feet for weeks, he gained weight and looked to pursue another sport.
He was able to make the best of a bad situation when he stumbled upon mixed martial arts. Taking inspiration from fellow South Aucklander Mark Hunt, his power saw him quickly find his footing in the sport.
After growing up in Auckland and finding his calling in the sport at Auckland MMA, Sosoli moved to Melbourne in 2014 to continue his career, where he trains with UFC veteran Dan Kelly and UFC light heavyweight Jimmy Crute and became affectionately known as the 'Combat Wombat. In 10 professional MMA bouts, Sosoli holds a 7-2 record (one no contest) with six wins by knockout. His two losses have both been by decision.
In Hardy, Sosoli meets one of the most polarising characters in the UFC. Many fans and fighters alike have spoken out against the former NFL player, who was arrested in 2014 for assaulting an ex-girlfriend. A judge found him guilty of assault and communicating threats, however the charges were dropped when Hardy appealed the decision, requesting a jury trial, to which the victim failed to appear in court to testify. The domestic violence charges against Hardy were expunged from his record in 2015.
Another fighter to be given his opportunity in the UFC through the contender series, Hardy holds a 6-1 record with all six of his victories coming by first-round knockout. His only loss was the result of a disqualification for an illegal knee strike.