Six years after his unsuccessful UFC debut, Soa “The Hulk” Palelei returned to the Octagon, picking up his first UFC victory despite carrying broken ribs through his fight with Nikita Krylov at UFC 164.
“This return is something that I've been waiting on for a long time,” Palelei said. “That kid was tough, but I wasn't going to let that early shot to the rib slow me down and ruin my return to the UFC. Winning makes all the pain go away, anyway.”
Palelei injured his ribs during his first training session after arriving in the States. Doctors told him there wasn't much he could do about it, so the Perth fighter battled on, but was severely hampered by the injury.
He revealed that Krylov caught him with a knee early in the fight and he heard his ribs crack, which caused him to gas.
In between rounds one and two, Palelei was wanting to quit on his stool, but his corner wouldn't let him. He continued to fight, eventually getting the TKO stoppage in round three with both fighters gassed.
“I didn't want to quit or pull out because I've got a lot of support behind me and everyone was looking forward to the win,” he said on the UFC post-fight show on Fox Sports 2. “I knew if I got a top (position), I could keep that and let the clock run down, but I'm glad the way it happened.
“From here, I'll give it a good rest and get back into it.”
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