Perth based heavyweight Soa Palelei returned to the UFC earlier today (Australian time) and put on a spirited performance to defeat Ukraine youngster Nikita Krylov in the third round.
The fight took place on the preliminary portion of the UFC 164 card held at the CMB Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, USA and televised via a online stream.
As the fight started, Palelei secured the early takedown and managed to easiy get to mount before unloading with punches from the top. Krylov worked back to his fight and unloaded with punches against the cage. Palelei finished the round with another takedown as Krylov attacked with a submission from his back. Palelei escaped and moved to side control where he attempted an unorthodox neck-crank as the round ended.
Palelei quickly started complaining about his ribs at the end of the first round, with his cornerman Cade Brown bluntly telling him “F**k the ribs”.
With Krylov never having gone to the second-round and Palelei fighting with what is believed to be a broken rib, the contest quickly became a battle of survival as both heavyweights tired.
Palelei got the fight to the ground on two occasions early in the second round but after the referee stood up the fight due to inactivity, Krylov started to get the better of the exchanges on their feet. Krylov utilised some heavy knees and uppercuts to rock Palelei. The Australian fighter did return with punches in the final seconds.
Again between rounds, the talking point was the rib with Palelei mentioning that it was broken. The fight doctor immediately took interest and started questioning the fighter about it, however Palelei’s corner-man Cade Brown played it down, explaining to the doctor that it was “just a strain”.
The fight restarted, and Palelei again got the fight to the ground and this time he unloaded, his opponent did not do anything to improve his position and remained in the fetal position. The referee called the fight 1:34 into the third round.
Wasn’t the most impressive or technical fight from both fighters, but considering the rib injury to Palelei and his last outing in the UFC, it was important for Palelei to get the win. Fight News Australia can confirm that Palelei injured his rib in the first training session after arriving in Milwaukee earlier this week.
The 35 year-old visited a prominent doctor in the area who advised that there was not much he could do a few days out of the fight.
The event is being headlined by a UFC Lightweight Title fight as current champion Benson Henderson rematches Anthony Pettis. The main card will be shown in Australian Mainevent Pay-per-view.