MILWAUKEE – A sloppy and lackluster affair between newcomer Nikita Krylov and the returning Soa Palelei came to a merciful end in the third round.

Afterward, Palelei admitted that his wind was taken away by a broken rib suffered the week prior to the fight.

The heavyweight bout was part of today’s UFC 164 event at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center. It streamed on Facebook ahead of additional prelims on FOX Sports 1 and a main card on pay-per-view.

Australia native Palelei, who hadn’t fought in the octagon since a single appearance at UFC 79 in 2007, wasted no time in depositing Krylov to the mat, where his ground and pound was stymied by the newcomer. Still, he managed to achieve mount, but couldn’t finish the fight before Krylov escaped.

That was his last gasp for another nine minutes.

The heavyweights lolled around the octagon in a series of sloppy clinches and white-belt grappling before Palelei, aided by his trainer’s order to suck it up and fight on, opened the third frame with a stiff punch that rocked Krylov.

The Ukranian fighter dove for a takedown but was bowled over by Palelei, who put him on his back and took mount before ending the fight with a series of strikes. The bout’s official stoppage came at the 1:34 mark of the third frame.

“This return is something that I’ve been waiting on for a long time,” Palelei said. “That kid was tough, but I wasn’t going to let that early shot to the rib slow me down and ruin my return to the UFC. Winning makes all the pain go away, anyway.”

Despite his poor performance, Palelei (19-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) can boast his first UFC win after a TKO loss to Eddie Sanchez in 2007. He now boasts nine straight wins, while Krylov (15-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) is 3-3 in his last six bouts.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 164 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC 164, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.

John Morgan contributed to this report on-site in Milwaukee.

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