Contender Series contract winner Punahele Soriano admitted to some nerves ahead of his octagon debut at UFC 245 — but it could not have gone better.
Las Vegas, NV — There’s nothing quite like making a big first impression, and Hawaii’s Punahele Soriano did just that at UFC 245. The Contender Series winner faced off with Oskar Piechota, a former Cage Warriors champ with a fair bit more experience than Soriano himself.
The end came via a first round knockout, a left hook bumping the middleweight to 7-0.
“The day flew by,” Soriano told media outlets including Cageside Press about his debut, while admitting he checked his phone frequently, something that made him “more and more nervous. But now that it’s all said and done, it was so much fun.”
When we spoke to Soriano ahead of the fight, he said he was glad his original debut at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi was cancelled, so his family could attend the fight. He reiterated that backstage Saturday night.
“It’s so much better. I’m so glad I got to make my debut here, because none of my family would have been able to make it to Abu Dhabi,” he said. “I got a bunch of family here. A bunch of people that don’t even know me, but they’re just from Hawaii so they’re here for support. That means a lot to me.”
On opponent Piechota, Soriano said that he was “super tough, man. I hit him, he dropped, I thought I was landing some hard shots on him. But when I tried to make eye contact, look at his eyes, he didn’t look rocked or nothing. He looked fine. He’s tough.”
Soriano eventually realized he needed to conserve some energy. “Once he started fighting back a little more, getting more technical with his legs,” it was a sign that he needed to “just [make] sure he wasn’t going to upkick me or anything.”
Watch the full UFC 245 post-fight press scrum with Punahele Soriano above!