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MMAFightline Exclusive Interview: Soa “The Hulk” Palelei talks UFC, Mark Hunt and Fedor

UFC Heavyweight fighter Soa Palelei at 6’4” and 265 lbs. is a daunting opponent. With both Pride and UFC experience, Soa continues to push himself to become a better fighter. Those that know him also know that he has a great sense of humor and a true warrior spirit. was able to catch up with Soa to talk about his recent UFC loss to Eddie Sanchez at UFC 79 and his future. Soa, I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk with You are coming off a loss to Eddie Sanchez at UFC 79. What are your thoughts on that fight?

Palelei: Very disappointed with my performance – that’s the fight game you either come 100% or don’t come at all. Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently to train for the fight against Sanchez?

Palelei: I know what I did wrong in the fight and words cannot express how disappointed I am and to my supporters this is not the way I fight and I’m sorry. I’ll be back. I promise. Eddie Sanchez was the better man on the night Did you suffer any injuries in the fight? If so, have they healed?

Palelei: I was fine — few bruises but all is ok and I’m back training and sparring so I’m fine. What have you been doing after the fight?

Palelei: K.F.C and then Burger King. Did I mention K.F.C? Now that I got that out of the way, I didn’t have much time to rest. I started training a week later. Where do you currently train and who are your training partners? Are you still with Team Quest?

Palelei: Yes, still with Team Quest – awesome bunch of guys and awesome place to train. Can you describe your training routine? For example, what types of cardio and weight training do you do; do you train jiu jitsu, muay thai, etc. and with whom?

Palelei: At Team Quest, Dr. Ryan Parsons coordinates all the training sessions for the team. We do conditioning twice a week and 2 a day sessions consisting of kickboxing sparring and MMA sparring and Sunday rest. It’s pretty full on there. Is it true that you have a 3 fight deal with the UFC with 2 fights left?

Palelei: Yes When do you anticipate you will be fighting again? Have you had any conversations with Dana White or Joe Silva after the fight?

Palelei: My goal is to fight in the UFC again but I want to fight on a few smaller shows to get some more fights under my belt then straight back in the mix of things. Who would you like to fight next?

Palelei: I don’t really care who I fight. This is my job when it’s time to go to work it’s time to work. We all have bills to pay. Do you think the UFC has done an adequate job promoting you as a fighter?

Palelei: The UFC has been very good, and I thank them for giving me the opportunity to fight on the show, but the next time you see me fight, there will be a different person than the last time I fought. Are there any professional fighters that you hate and would love to fight in the Octagon?

Palelei: I love every one (laughs). Like I said, this is our job. I don’t care who I fight. How does fighting in the UFC compare to fighting in Pride?

Palelei: The difference is that there’s a cage. The crowds in the UFC are also different than the crowds in Japan. The UFC has stated on several occasions that it will have a UFC event in Australia. Have they discussed this with you?

Palelei: That would be awesome to fight on that show if it does come to Australia in front of a home town. It doesn’t get better than that. Can you describe the MMA scene in Australia – is it as popular as it is in the United States?

Palelei: It’s getting there. It’s amazing to see it grow all over the world so fast but Australia is coming along very well. There appears to be some areas of Australia that still view the sport as a blood sport and are opposed to having MMA fights. How prevalent is that viewpoint in Australia?

Palelei: That’s politics for you. They have nothing better to do in their boring lives and if they sat down and watched it, they would be surprised. It ain’t that bad and it’s a safer sport than boxing. It is my understanding that The Ultimate Fighter reality TV series airs on the FOX Network in Australia. Do Australians have easy access to UFC pay-per-views?

Palelei: Yeah, they have it aired on pay per view for UFC fights and have TUF aired weekly on FOX Sports. I think TUF has really made the public really understand what the sport is really about. We as MMA fighters ain’t pub brawlers or drunken street fighters. People are starting to see how much effort and work we put in as professional fighters to get there. Has the UFC done anything else to promote itself in Australia?

Palelei: Yes, I remember the first UFC videos that came out and that I bought in the back of a shop and now, to see how much advertising and promoting it’s getting — it’s really come along way. Do you think you were signed by the UFC in an effort to promote Australian fighters?

Palelei: There are a lot of good fighters in Australia. I think if the UFC signs you, then you’re lucky I guess. Do you know when the UFC will have its first show in Australia? Do you know where in Australia?

Palelei: I think if they do end up having a show in Australia they well probably have it in Sydney. Other than George Sotiropoulos are you aware of any other Australian fighters that have recently been signed to fight in the UFC? Are there any Australian fighters appearing on The Ultimate Fighter Season 7 (Kyle Noke?)?

Palelei: Not to sure if any other fighters from Australia are signed apart from Elvis Sinosic and Anthony Perosh but it would be good to see some more Aussie fighters in there. Do you think the UFC will sign New Zealand fighter Mark Hunt? There have been some unconfirmed rumors that he still has one fight left under his Pride contract which the UFC assumed.

Palelei: Mark Hunt is Mark Hunt. He ain’t getting out of bed for pocket change. I consider him 1 of the top 5 fighters in the world. He just wants to get paid and he’s done a lot in his career to demand top dollar so give him what he wants because with him you’ll either see a K.O. or an awesome fight. Would you like to fight Mark Hunt?

Palelei: Yeah, I want top dollar (laughs). My advice to anyone who fights him: keep your hands up. He may not look like the perfect looking fighter but if your hands are down you better have a steel jaw. Other than you, who are the most popular Australian/New Zealand MMA fighters?

Palelei: Hector Lombard, Elvis Sinosic, Anthony Perosh, Kyle Noke, Brad Morris, Gordan Gaef, just to name a few. Given that you are a heavyweight fighter, the next few questions will deal with other fighters in your division. Do you think Fedor is the number one heavyweight fighter?

Palelei: Yes, and look at his paycheck (laughs). It’s good to see how he still competes in the sport he first started from (sambo). He keeps it old school the way he acts and the way he trains. I think he is beatable but he’s tough. Who do you think would win in a match-up between Randy Couture and Fedor?

Palelei: Fedor. Randy is very smart and Randy would sit there studying his every move, but I’ve got my money on Fedor. Ok, tough question – who is right: Randy or the UFC?

Palelei: What was the question again? (laughs) (Laughs) Alright, I’ll skip that one. Do you think Kimbo Slice is a legitimate MMA fighter?

Palelei: I think Kimbo is a fighter. He’s fought his whole life and he’s getting paid more now than the streets and if he sticks with Bas Rutten he well be champ one day. Who do you think will win: Frank Mir or Brock Lesnar?

Palelei: If Frank Mir is fit, he will win by submission. Brock is one big strong guy if he keeps out of trouble with out getting caught in any submission, he well win. I like the way Brock thinks and what he says. Are there any sponsors you would like to plug?

Palelei: Just like to thank Team Quest and Ryan Parsons for the training and the opportunity, Light Force, Clinch Gear, Mecure Hotel, Urban Hotel Sydney, and Bohdies Bakery Perth. Finally, any words for your fans out there?

Palelei: Thank you for the support. I’ll be back I promise. Thanks again, Soa. We look forward to watching you fight in the future.