Hulk considers smash return
AFTER taking two years out to finish his book, film movies and tour Australia as a guest speaker, Soa ‘The Hulk’ Palelei could be enticed back into the octagon after the State Government announced the Ultimate Fighting Championship would make its Perth debut in February.
SOUTH LAKE MMA giant Soa ‘The Hulk’ Palelei (pictured) is considering a return to the octagon to compete at a landmark Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event in February.
The State Government announced last week UFC 221 – a pay-perview event – would be staged at Perth Arena on February 11.
Australian middleweight Robert Whittaker is likely to headline the the mega promotion’s Perth debut and could tackle freshly minted middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
Palelei, who has not fought since UFC 190 in 2015, said he was in discussions to see if a return was feasible.
“I’d love to get on to the card but we’ll have to see what happens,” he said last week.
It is anticipated more than 15,000 fans will pack Perth Arena for a card featuring local and international mixed martial artists.
The fight should provide a massive tourism boost for the State, injecting $7 million into the economy and showing Perth off to a global audience of more than 15 million viewers.
Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said the decision was made possible after the State Government lifted a ban on MMA enclosures – known as ‘cages’ – earlier this year.
“Not only will this event be great for tourism and local jobs, UFC 221 will be embraced by WA’s own 40,000 registered fans – the third biggest UFC supporter base in Australia,” he said.
“The 56 million UFC social media fans will also see our State showcased in the lead- up to the fight – giving Perth and WA unprecedented exposure.”
UFC president Dana White said he was excited his organisation could host an event in Perth.
Spearwood UFC fan Lewis Parkinson, who forks out $60 on pay-per-view to watch the travelling road show each month, said he was eager to get his hands on tickets and believed Perth Arena would be packed to the rafters.
He said Whittaker was the man to mark the milestone.
“I think (Whittaker versus St Pierre) would be a ridiculously good first fight to be held here in WA,” he said.
The decision did cause some backlash, with Australian Medical Association WA president Omar Khorshid pouring cold water on the news.