Perth's Soa set to ruin Ruan in Cincinnati UFC fight night

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What he has received, however, is a matchup against Ruan Potts at UFC Fight Night: Brown v Silva at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati on May 10.

Potts, with a record of 8-1 is the former Extreme Fighting Championships Africa Heavyweight champion making his UFC debut on a six-fight deal.

Soa 'The Hulk' Palelei

Soa ‘The Hulk’ Palelei Photo: Craig Kerry

While Potts is ranked far lower than Barry, Palelei knows there are no easy fights in the UFC and turned to a UFC veteran to lift his game.

American Kickboxing Academy is one of the best MMA gyms in the world, the long-time home of UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, former Olympic wrestler, Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion and current UFC Light Heavyweight contender Daniel Cormier and former Strikeforce Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.

UFC welterweight veteran Mick Swick spent much of 2012 building AKA Thailand in Phuket, and it is now one of the largest MMA training facilities in the world.

Palelei spent considerable time in Thailand putting his gameplan together before flying back to Perth to finalise his camp, and he believes his time in Thailand will make a definite difference.

“Swick is a really experienced guy and they’ve got a lot of good guys over there, you know,” he said.

“The facilities over there are unbelievable, but Swick brings so much experience from sparring with Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier, all those top level guys at AKA in San Jose, so he brings all that back to Phuket so the time I spent there was well worth it.”

After steamrolling Barry in dominant fashion, Palelei could have tried to hold out for a more experienced opponent, but that would be at odds with the powerful heavyweight’s attitude towards fighting.

“I spoke to my management team, Paradigm, and left that in their court to deal with [UFC matchmaker] Joe Silva, and they came up with this fight,” he said.

“I don’t mind fighting in the top 10, that’s not a problem but I kind of wanted to keep stepping, keep climbing the ladder. I’m not in a rush, I’m here to stay for a long time and I want to do it smart and keep climbing that ladder.

You can’t really pick and choose who you fight in the UFC… if Joe Silva offers you a fight, you take it, or at least that’s my attitude.”

Potts has split his professional wins between knockouts an submission victories at four a piece and has a skill set that is increasingly paying dividends in the UFC.

Australia’s own Hector Lombard, along with Yoshihiro Akiyama and Jimmy Hettes are all Judo experts, with Lombard’s recent manhandling of submission grappler Jake Shields, utilising Judo throws, resulting in Shields being cut by the promotion.

You only need to look at the record of UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey, an Olympic bronze medallist, to see how effective a high-level Judoka can be in MMA.

Palelei knows Potts is dangerous, but every fighter in the UFC is dangerous, and his skills hold no fear for Palelei.

“I’ve fought guys, I fought a Japanese guy once who was a Judo champion, and my background, I’m a first degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black-belt so it doesn’t really bother me.

“If it goes to the ground it goes to the ground, if he stands up, he’s not going to hit harder than [UFC Heavyweight] Mark Hunt.

“In saying that, I have to be careful, every opponent that I fight at this level is a tough opponent, really dangerous and I have to put him in that category. There are no easy fights. They’re in the UFC for a reason, so we will see how we go. Plus he’s from South Africa, there’s a Wallabies versus Springbox rivalry. Potts will have a big heart and a lot of pride and he’ll be wearing that on his sleeve I’m sure.”

The reason Palelei has been so successful in the UFC is a combination of sheer size and wrestling ability. His ability to get an opponent to the ground and land strikes from a dominant position is at the elite level. Opponents know what he is going to do and it is up to them to stop him. However, don’t mistake the man mountain for a one-dimensional fighter.

“The takedown is my bread and butter and a lot of guys will know that and will come in looking for me to take that shot. I might stand up with him and see how it feels, and if I feel that he’s too dangerous on his feet I’ll take him down.

“We’ve got a few game-plans and if A doesn’t work, I’ll go to B. If B doesn’t work, I’ll go to C. I’ve got options, and we’ve mapped those out pretty well.

“It’s 15 minutes of hard work, that’s all it is so I’ll go out there and treat it as a really hard sparring session. If I get another notch, that’s 11 wins in a row.”

UFC Fight Night: Brown v Silva will broadcast live and free on Fuel TV from 8am Sunday morning.

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