The West

Hulk seeks 12th win in a row
Hulk seeks 12th win in a row

Perth heavyweight Soa “The Hulk” Palelei will feature in the co-main event of the UFC's debut show in New Zealand on Saturday night.

Palelei (21-3) will look for his 12th consecutive win when he faces US amateur wrestling champion Jared Rosholt (10-1) in Auckland.

The 36-year-old father-of-three is a narrow underdog heading into the bout, but he will be a firm favourite with the crowd.

While Palelei was born and raised in Australia, many Kiwis have crossed the Tasman to pursue MMA, including two fighters on this weekend's card.

“I have a lot of relatives over there. I was born in Newcastle and I've been in Perth all my life, but it's still a second home,” Palelei said.

“I think the countries do back each other in because we're close.

“You've also got New Zealand's top guys like James Te Huna, Mark Hunt and Rob Whittaker who now live and train in Australia.”

Saturday's bout comes less than two months after Palelei's first-round knockout win over South African Ruan Potts (8-2) in Cincinnati.

In the days after that dominant performance, the UFC renegotiated his contract and granted his wish to compete in New Zealand on the eve of his 37th birthday.

But “The Hulk” knows 27-year-old Rosholt, a three-time All American collegiate wrestler, has the tools to spoil his party.

Palelei, a hulking Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, has earned a reputation for taking his opponents down and finishing them from top position.

Rosholt's wrestling ability could force the Australian to trade strikes on the feet.

“The thing is, I haven't even shown what I can do standing up. I think I'm as strong standing as I am on the ground,” he said.

“I don't need to take Rosholt down. If it happens, it happens. Whatever Jared brings to the table, I'm ready for.

“He's definitely a good wrestler but when someone can punch you in the face, it's a different story.”

UFC Fight Night 43 will be headlined by a clash between New Zealand-born middleweight James Te Huna and US veteran Nate Marquardt.

Perth welterweight Chris Indich, 27, who lost his UFC debut in Canada in April, will face Victorian Vik Grujic, 37.

The West Australian

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