‘The Hulk’ eyes off spot on UFC 221 card after February 11 event announced for Perth Arena


Soa ‘The Hulk’ Palelei, who last fought in the UFC in 2015, says he should know by the end of the week if he will make a return to the octagon and compete at a landmark Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event in Perth in February. Picture: Matthew Stockman.
Soa ‘The Hulk’ Palelei, who last fought in the UFC in 2015, says he should know by the end of the week if he will make a return to the octagon and compete at a landmark Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event in Perth in February. Picture: Matthew Stockman.

PERTH MMA giant Soa ‘The Hulk’ Palelei says he should know by the end of the week if he will make a return to the octagon and compete at a landmark Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event in Perth in February.

The State Government announced today UFC 221 – a pay-per-view event – would be staged at Perth Arena on February 11.

Australian middleweight Robert Whittaker will likely headline the mega promotion’s Perth debut, taking on the winner of this Sunday’s clash between England’s Michael Bisping and Canadian Georges St-Pierre.

Palelei, who has not fought since UFC 190 in 2015, said he would be in discussions this week 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.

It is anticipated more than 15,000 fans will pack Perth Arena for a card featuring local and international mixed martial artists.

The fight is expected to 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.

“Quality events are vital to tourism in WA, an industry that employs more than 109,000 Western Australians.”

UFC president Dana White said he was excited his organisation could host an event in Perth.

“I’ve always loved Australia. The fans and energy are fantastic but most importantly we seem to have some of the greatest fights there,” he said.

“My job is to put on the best fights in the world and this is a place that never disappoints.

“I look forward to our first UFC event in Perth next year and hope to entertain the fans once again.”

Local 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 the winner of Bisping and St Pierre) would be a ridiculously good first fight to be held here in WA,” he said.

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