Palelei Prepared for UFC Debut
Soa Palelei (Pictures) will debut in the UFC on
Saturday. The 30-year-old resident of Australia is 8-1 in MMA
competition. At 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds, he will have a significant
size advantage against UFC veteran Eddie Sanchez.
But before "The Hulk" walks into the Octagon for the first time,
Sherdog.com spoke with him on his preparation.
How did this opportunity
to fight in the UFC arise for you?
Dr. Ryan Parsons, the coach
and management of Team Quest, has been in talks with the UFC
Did you sign a deal with
Yeah, I signed a three-fight
deal with the UFC. All signed up and now for the hard work with the
You aren't very well known
in the United States despite your fights in Australia and your
fight in PRIDE. How would you introduce yourself to the UFC fans
who'll see you for the first time?
I'm very pleased and honored
to be fighting in the biggest organization in the world and I'll
just go out there and do my best.
You fought last on Oct. 5
at King of the Cage in Australia. You knocked out your opponent in
five seconds. What do you have to say about that fight?
It was 14 seconds (laughs).
There's really nothing to talk about in this fight, but KFC was
closing at 10 p.m., so I had to make sure the fight was finished
Before this fight you kept
away from MMA matches for three years. What was the reason?
I had some legal issues that
stopped me from traveling overseas, but all is good now. "The Hulk"
Like we mentioned before,
you fought in PRIDE and lost your untouchable résumé by losing via
submission at the hands of South Korean Mu Bae Choi (Pictures). What happened in that fight? It
seemed you were dominating.
No excuses. At the end of the
day, advice for all: Make sure you're 100-percent ready.
What did you learn from
the experience in your first premier MMA event that you'll carry
into your UFC debut?
There will be no mistakes in
this fight. I'm fitter. I'm hungry and angry cause Ryan Parsons
makes me drink this greens juice everyday, not to mention the Light
Force on top of it. I know it's good for you, but I like my junk
You have a lot of TKOs and
KOs on your resume, but you also participated in the ADCC 2003
submission wrestling championships. What's your martial arts
I trained in a bit of
everything: BJJ, boxing, wrestling, kickboxing. I'm from Tonga, so
I used to climb coconut trees and punch the coconuts to condition
my fist (laughs). Now I'm in Australia, so I just wrestle the
What's your team and who
are your main teammates?
Team Quest is the team I'm
with. There are a lot of guys here training for fights all year
round. There's Dan
Henderson (Pictures), Thierry Sokoudjou, Jason Miller, (Ryo) Chonan,
Jess Liaudin (Pictures), Matt Lindland (Pictures), King Mo -- just to name a few
that are training there. There are a good bunch of guys there. It's
kind of like a family-orientated place. There are no egos -- just
train hard or go home.
How popular is the UFC in
It's growing in Australia, and
there's a lot of good talent coming out of Australia, making it
big. Guys like Hector
Lombard (Pictures), Gordon Gaef, Ian Schaffa,
Brad Morris, Anthony Perosh (Pictures), George Sotiropoulos
(Pictures), Kyle Noke (Pictures). Can't forget "The King" Elvis Sinosic (Pictures), just to name a few.
Do you see many
differences between MMA in America compared to Australia? Tell us
the main similarities and differences.
Well, America is where dreams
come true (laughs). It's where the big league is, and if you want
to make it in the big league, this is where you have to be -- among
the best, training with the best. Australia is getting there
In your opinion, who are
the best heavyweight fighters in the UFC nowadays?
I think every single fighter
fighting in the UFC is the best. They don't get to the UFC waiting
at the bus stop. It's all about the money. To get the money, you
have to win. To get the win, you have to train hard. And if you
don't want to do any of that, you're best off going and working at
Your opponent at UFC 79 is
Eddie Sanchez. What do
you know about him and what do you think about his game?
I think he's a good fighter. I
respect all my opponents. At the end of the day, this is our job.
So when we have to work, we have to work.
How is your training going
for this match? What did you focus on for this opportunity?
Training is good. I'm feeling
better than ever for this fight. I've been here before with this
type of crowd. It's just another fight for me. I know what to do
and how to handle things better.
The Internet fans expect
you and Sanchez to trade strikes on the feet in a war. Do you think
We'll see what happens.
You're 8-1 and Sanchez is
7-1 -- similar resumes. However, he has three fights in the UFC,
and you're debuting. How do you overcome his Octagon
Everyone has a bad day. You
win some, you lose some. I've been doing extra push-ups and
sit-ups, so let's see if that helps (laughs). Like I said, I'm
happy to be given the opportunity to be fighting in the UFC.
What's the importance of
fighting in a pay-per-view match?
That means all the people I
owe money will see me and now know I'm getting paid and will start
sending out reminders in the mail to pay the phone, electricity,
water and gas bills.
The last guys from Oceania
who fought in the UFC didn't get the nod (Elvis Sinosic (Pictures) and Anthony Perosh (Pictures)). Do you have any weight on your
shoulders to give a good performance and get a victory?
I'm going to go out there and
fight. I've been training hard, and if you can hold your own with
Sokoudjou, you're doing awesome. Thierry Sokoudjou is a machine.
He'll be very hard to stop at 205. Did I mention Dan Henderson (Pictures)'s elbows? Let's not go there.
I would like to thank the Lord
above, all my friends and family for the support and all the
supporters out there also, Team Quest, Heath Sims (Pictures), Dan Henderson (Pictures) and Dr. Ryan Parsons for the
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