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First of all I’d like to congratulate you on finally getting the call back up to the UFC, it's long overdue and I have personally been campaigning
for Dana to re-sign you for quite some time now, so I am very excited to see what the future has in store for Soa "The Hulk" Palelei.
You were initially slated to fight Stipe Miocic but unfortunately he was called in as a replacement to fight Roy Nelson, what was your reaction to that and did you have to extend your fight camp because of it?
Well when I got the call from my management team (Paradigm SM), I was like “well off to KFC I go!” [laughs]. Really it was disappointing because I was so excited and because of all of the hard work and training I had put in, but things happen for a reason and I was then put on UFC 164, I’m very happy with all the training and how my camp has gone.
How did you get the nickname "The Hulk"?
My ex-manager and I were throwing around some names and after going through so many misses, ‘The Hulk’ came up and it was a fit, we both felt right about it and when something fits, you go with it!
Having not fought outside of Australia since your last UFC fight at the end of 2007, how do you think going back to the UFC and the USA will effect you after fighting at home for so long?
It won’t affect me at all because I don’t let things like that get to me. I’m excited to travel and to fight in the States again; we just have to see what happens on the night.
You were the first quality opponent that Daniel Cormier ever faced and he was widely unknown outside of wrestling circles back then, what was it like preparing for such a tough but unknown fighter and how do you think you'd fare in a rematch?
Daniel Cormier is a great athlete and has great accolades, he’s done great things and if it ever came to be that we would have to rematch I’d be happy to do so. I have a lot of respect for Daniel and his skills.
Facing off against Nikita Krylov at UFC 164 puts you in a similar situation to the fight against Cormier, Krylov is a 14-0 unknown Ukranian prospect who has finished every one of his opponents, how have you prepared for this fight and how do you think his Sambo matches up against your Wrestling and BJJ?
We have worked on everything, my team watched and studied his videos and we worked our training based around what they saw. I’m very well prepared for this fight and I’m ready to give it my absolute all.
What is your toughest fight ever?
Each and every one of them, I respect all of my opponents- they’re all warriors.
Is there anybody that you dislike in MMA?
No, not at all, I’m not that type of person. I respect all the fighters; it takes a lot to do what we do for a living. Not only to step into the cage willingly but also to be able to keep up with all the hours we dedicate to training.
What do you think is the best base for an MMA fighter and why?
Knowing a bit of everything, if there’s one thing you’re really good at then that’s good but I believe you need to be a well rounded fighter to be the best. You need to know enough about all aspects of the MMA game.
What are the best and worst things about being a high level pro MMA fighter?
The feeling you get when you walk out and the crowd is going nuts, that’s a great feeling, and kicking butt every day is pretty great too. The worst thing is the weight cuts and not being able to eat all the KFC and pancakes I want to, ‘cos you know this big boy loves to eat!
How old were you when you began MMA?
It’s been about 12 years; I was about 24 I think. I fell in love with the sport and just wanted to be the best and do it professionally.
If you were to give a young kid just starting out in MMA one piece of advice, what would it be?
Work your ass off, listen to your coach and don’t be afraid you might get knocked down, I sure have but it’s about getting back up. Work, work, work, stay on your hustle all day, every day!
Is there any room for fear in the mind of a professional fighter?
No, I don’t believe there can be any doubting yourself; it will only lead to defeat- so you have to stay positive.
What is your fondest fight memory?
Each time I get to walk out and step foot in the cage. I can honestly I still have that passion for the sport and I cherish every fight that I ever have.
What is the worst part about prepping for a fight?
Cutting weight, I usually walk around at 131kgs and I cut down to 120kgs so that means no KFC, no pancakes and eventually no cheat meals. The hard part is the training and the diet. The easy part is the fight, all the hard work has already been done during the training leading up to it.
If you could fight any person Alive or dead, who would it be?
Myself, because God made me for me. Everyone else is already taken.
Thank you for this opportunity and thank you to my sponsors: Mackboots, Southern Crossfit, Osbourne Park Chrysler Jeep and Dodge, My Urban Swagga, iMINCO, SkinX, Muscle Meals Direct, Topshelf Supplements, Adidas Combat Sports, GreenHOUS, TKL Holdings, Exquisite Dentistry & Innovative Hair Loss Solutions. I would like to thank my family and my team for their support and to all the fans: You’re amazing! Much love, ‘The Hulk’.