Soa Palelei will now make his Octagon return on the UFC 164 fight card after being removed from a bout with Stipe Miocic and replaced by Roy Nelson.
MMAJunkie.com reports that UFC newcomer and undefeated Ukranian Nikita Krylov will meet Palelei at the August 31 event in Milwaukee. Competing in Ukraine and Russia, Krylov has already won three times in 2013.
With an 0-1 UFC record, Palelei was removed from his previously scheduled bout with Miocic for a multitude of reasons. After UFC 161 lost its main event bout between Renan Barao and Eddie Wineland, the UFC needed to add a big name to the card, so TUF winner Nelson supplanted the less popular Palelei. In addition to the name value he added, Nelson was owed a fight to fulfill his contract, so the matchup with Miocic helped complete the UFC's obligation.
Since losing to Eddie Sanchez in his only Octagon appearance at UFC 79, Palelei has only lost to Daniel Cormier in 11 bouts. Most recently, Palelei scored a first-round knockout against UFC veteran Sean McCorkle, which caught the attention of the UFC brass.
At 35 years old, it's likely this will be Palelei's final chance to prove himself at the highest level. While he has much more experience against top competition than Krylov, Palelei is 14 years older than the 21-year-old Urkanian. Still, Krylov will be taking a big step up in competition from the opponents he was facing in Gladiators Fighting Championship and M-1 Challenge.
It's tough to say how Krylov will respond against an adversary like Palelei. Because he's not been tested against UFC-level competition thus far in his career, Krylov may be in for a wake-up call against the jiu-jitsu black belt with knockout power.
Following the addition of the heavyweight bout between Palelei and Krylov, here is how the UFC 164 fight card currently looks:
- Frank Mir vs. Josh Barnett
- Chad Mendes vs. Clay Guida
- Erik Koch vs. Dustin Poirier
- Ben Rothwell vs. Brandon Vera
- Soa Palelei vs. Nikita Krylov