This Saturday night (May 10, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweights Soa Palelei and Ruan Potts will face off on the main card of UFC Fight Night 40, airing live at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 from U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Former Australian Fighting Championships (AFC) heavyweight champion Palelei is on a roll, having won his last 10 mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts. "The Hulk" was most recently seen finishing Pat Barry in the first round at UFC Fight Night 33, prompting "HD" to return to kickboxing.
Prior to that, Palelei defeated Nikita Krylov in what was deemed a lackluster affair at UFC 164 back in August 2013. After debuting in UFC with a single 2007 loss to Eddie Sanchez, Palelei has won two straight bouts in UFC.
He'll welcome Potts to the Octagon in Cincinnati.
Former Extreme Fighting Championships (EFC) Africa champion Potts only has one loss on his record. He's finished his opponent in each of his eight other bouts, signifying him as a legit challenger ready for a step up in competition.
In a battle of terrifying nicknames, "Fangzz" will face a surging beast in "The Hulk." Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Palelei vs. Potts:
Record: 20-3 overall, 2-1 UFC
Key Wins: Pat Barry (UFC Fight Night 33), Nikita Krylov (UFC 164)
Key Losses: Daniel Cormier (Xtreme MMA 3)
Record: 8-1 overall, 0-0 UFC
Key Wins: Andrew van Zyl (EFC Africa 26), Ricky Misholas (EFC Africa 24)
Key Losses: Andrew van Zyl (EFC Africa 18)
With 16 knockouts and four submissions, Palelei has never won a decision. He'll be looking to add Potts to his growing list of victims with an early finish, but the South African has never been knocked out.
However, he's also never faced an opponent with striking power like Palelei's. Enjoying a sizeable experience advantage, Palelei will be looing to get inside with a vicious combination of punches. "The Hulk" has to be careful not to get wrapped up in a surprise hold on the ground, as Potts has ended half of his wins via submission.
"Fangzz" has to prove he can deliver on the grand stage of UFC. He's been given no easy task in this first fight, so maintaining a clear focus will be crucial to scoring the huge upset. We've seen many a debuting competitor fight well below their true potential due to Octagon jitters.
Unfortunately for Potts, falling victim to the same fate could easily see him staring up at the lights.
To avoid that, Potts has to be smart on his feet, sticking and moving to stay away from Palelei's thunderous knockout ability. He has four knockouts of his own, but there's no reason to stand and trade with a proven finisher like "The Hulk."
Potts is a confident, up-and-coming young heavyweight, but he'll quickly find out that he's playing in the big leagues. How he responds to that pressure is going to give us our first glimpse of how far he may go in the relatively shallow UFC heavyweight division.
The promising fighter has a golden opportunity to make a huge statement this Saturday. He just has to stop a surging freight train to do it.
With momentum on his side, Soa Palelei is looking to blast his way into the UFC heavyweight Top 10. Can the debuting Ruan Potts somehow put a shocking end to "The Hulk's" impressive run?