If there is one thing that is good about pursuing academic greatness, it’s that, to a degree, everything is written down for you. No matter what the subject, whether it’s math, science or even information technology, there is going to be someone who has discovered, documented and shared their learnings. Everything is in those textbooks that cost students thousands of dollars over the course of a college career.

Mixed martial arts is a different beast altogether. Whilst there have been books written, it’s not often that any two fighters will go into a contest the exact same way. It’s rare that a formula is written for a fighter to follow.

If there was a textbook on a Soa Palelei fight, the first chapter would be titled, “Takedown,” and the second and final chapter would bear the name, “Ground-and-Pound.” Ever since his impressive 11-fight winning streak began in 2011, all of his fights have ended in a very similar fashion. There have been some speed bumps along the way, but for the most part, the fights have all showcased Palelei’s impressive ground game.

Palelei (Twitter)

Palelei (Twitter)

“The ground is like second nature to me,” Palelei exclaimed to The MMA Corner. “No matter where it ends up, it’s going to be an explosive fight. In my last one, I really wanted to showcase my stand-up because that’s what I’d been working on. We didn’t really go into it expecting the fight to hit the ground, that’s just how things happened. Hopefully this time I can show some things while standing. Jared [Rosholt] is a great wrestler and he’s going to be a tough opponent.”

Before he made his return to the UFC, Palelei would enjoy competing every couple of months. The fact is, when you aren’t fighting, you aren’t getting paid. In a little over 12 months, Palelei has graced the Octagon three times, and his bout this weekend at UFC Fight Night 43 against Rosholt will serve as his third fight over a six-month period. Fighting often is certainly something that Palelei enjoys, and his constant work toward bettering himself as a fighter is his top priority.

“Hard work pays off,” Palelei explained. “I am a perfect example of that. I work hard, I train hard and I fight hard. I’m always on the grind, that’s just what I do. I’ve been training really hard for this fight because I know that, every fight, I am fighting to stay in the UFC. Yeah, I might have won a few in a row, but at the end of the day it only takes one loss for that to fall apart. I know that Jared is a great fighter and he’s going to go in there and put the pressure on. I’ve gotta be ready for that.”

With a three-fight winning streak in the UFC since his return to the company, Palelei continues to make waves in the UFC’s heavyweight division. For a time in Palelei’s career, a return to the UFC seemed like a distant hope. Now, being back and better than ever has meant that he has quickly secured his first assignment as a co-headliner.

“I’m truly blessed,” Palelei admitted. “To even be back in the UFC and after three fights be in the co-main event, I’m very lucky. It’s a privilege to be fighting in the co-main event, and it’s definitely something I don’t take lightly. After three fights, to see I’m ranked No. 15, that’s a big deal to me. These are the best fighters in the world, and no matter where they are ranked, they are in the UFC for a reason. Every fighter that I face in the UFC is going to be the toughest opponent of my career, because they are in the UFC for a reason. Someone, whether it’s [UFC President] Dana White or [matchmaker] Joe Silva or whoever, has seen that they deserve to be there, and I need to continue showing that I deserve to be there, too.”

Entering the bout, Palelei’s opponent, Rosholt, is riding a six-fight winning streak of his own and is unbeaten in the UFC. Over the course of his 12 years as a professional competitor, Palelei has yet to see the scorecards. Despite Rosholt’s back-to-back decision victories, that’s a trend that Palelei plans to keep alive.

Soa Palelei (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

Soa Palelei (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

“There is no way this one is going the distance,” Palelei explained. “Either I am going to knock him out or he’s going to knock me out. This is going to be a fight that can end in a flash, and I know that. Going into it, I am not expecting the fight to go a certain way. We have prepared for this to be an anything can happen kinda situation. I just wanna go in, give the fans in New Zealand a hell of a show, and I can’t wait to be fighting again. I love keeping active. I always have [kept active] throughout my career. This is gonna be the fight to watch.”

Although Palelei hopes to be able to showcase some of his other skills inside the Octagon, the formula that he has followed to great success throughout his career is likely to ensue. With a quick turnaround also targeted so that Palelei can be featured on the annual Australian event at the end of the year, you can be sure that both chapter one andchapter two of his textbook-style fight will be on display in Auckland, New Zealand.

Every win is a step up the rankings. That’s the hustle and grind of “The Hulk.” This weekend, Auckland may think that they already know how the story goes when Palelei steps inside the cage, but, like any textbook, there can always be revisions. In fact, Palelei might just add a whole new chapter.

Soa would like to thank R9WA, My Urban Swagga, Southern Crossfit, Auckland City Hotel, Lakes Designer, Limousine Excursions, Muscle Meals Direct, Exquisite Dentistry, Innovative HairLoss Solutions, Peaches Fresh Food, The Paddington Hotel, Star Special Events, Tiasa Electrical Services, Island Protective Services and Sports Food Inc. Follow Palelei on Twitter: @soathehulk

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.