UFC 161: Soa "The Hulk" Palelei Faces Stipe Miocic in UFC Return

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterMarch 5, 2013

Photo credit: Twitter/SoaTheHulk via MMA Kanvas
Photo credit: Twitter/SoaTheHulk via MMA Kanvas

Soa "The Hulk" Palelei will return to the Octagon at UFC 161 after six years in the MMA hinterlands. Welcoming him back will be Croatian-American Stipe Miocic.

The news was first reported by Australian site FightNewsAustralia.com (h/t Bloody Elbow). According to the original report:

Palelei is touted to appear on the UFC 161 card in June with 30 year-old Stipe Miocic (9-1, UFC 3-1) slated as an potential opponent. UFC executives have yet to formally announce the event or the fight.

The 35-year-old Australian heavyweight first fought for the UFC back in 2007 at UFC 79. It was a short-lived tenure, however, as Palelei lost to Eddie Sanchez and was summarily dismissed from the promotion.

But "The Hulk" battled back and has won eight consecutive fights in Australia, most recently over UFC veteran Sean McCorkle. Palelei's claim to fighting fame is the massive power in his fists. His attack is not entirely subtle: He slams his opponents and then pounds them into the mat. Despite his often brutal and brutish attack, though, Palelei is a fairly well-rounded competitor: He holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and is a decorated grappler on the Australian circuit.

Interested in watching "The Hulk" at work? Check out this video of him handling McCorkle back in December by first-round TKO. 

Miocic (9-1) is coming off his first professional loss, a TKO defeat in September to Stefan Struve. Miocic is no stranger to the welcome wagon: He knocked out Shane Del Rosario in the much-hyped Del Rosario's UFC debut back in May.

UFC 161, set to take place June 15 in Winnipeg, Canada, is also tentatively scheduled to feature a light heavyweight bout between Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson, a rematch between Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and a welterweight bout between Tyron Woodley and Jake Shields.

Despite the UFC's recent penchant for making major roster cuts, the addition of Palelei adds needed bench depth to a top-heavy heavyweight division. His only loss since leaving the UFC came in 2010 to eventual Strikeforce champion and current UFC heavyweight Daniel Cormier.