UFC Vegas 47: Nick Maximov Takes Close Split Decision Against Punahele Soriano

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Nick Maximov and Punahele Soriano, UFC Vegas 47
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 05: (L-R) Nick Maximov kicks Punahele Soriano in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Given his status as an honorary Diaz brother of sorts, the hoopla around Nick Maximov was understandable. Even more so, given Maximov, a middleweight, moved up two weight classes when he competed on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2020.

Nick Maximov, frankly, was an athlete not intimidated by any opponent. And in his first co-main event — arriving in just his second UFC fight, at UFC Vegas 47 on Saturday — Maximov was paired up with the always intimidating Punahele Soriano.

Maximov vs. Soriano started out Saturday as something of a wrestling match. They didn’t stay down too long; back on the feet, Maximov landed a kick to the shoulder, but then ate a Soriano knee. Maximov answered with a takedown attempt that was stuffed, but transitioned to the back and climbed onto Soriano while the Hawaiian was still standing.

From there, Soriano had to carry Maximov’s weight; he wisely used to fence to help carry some of the load. Maximov, however, had ample time to work on a choke, though he ultimately slid off. Maximov then went right back to a takedown attempt, taking Soriano’s feet out from under him. When Soriano got back up, Maximov got him down, but Soriano showed some decent defense, pulled free, and landed a few hammer fists as Maximov clung to a leg.

That closed out the round. The second opened with a fun scramble on the ground, both men holding their own through several transitions on the mat. Back on the feet, Soriano took some big swings, which forced Maximov back to takedown mode. Maximov, who had taken some damage in the first, was bleeding, but once again managed to take the back. He couldn’t climb Soriano this time, however. Instead, they traded, with a Soriano body shot forcing Maximov into takedown mode once again. Soriano was able to defend just enough to keep Maximov from doing much more than controlling the position. Little to no damage ensued.

Maximov finished the round with a body lock, controlling from the back, firing a knee. He then took Soriano down at the clapper, with Soriano popping back up just as the buzzer sounded.

Nick Maximov immediately shot for a takedown, and landed it, to open round three. A sequence that appeared to hurt Soriano, potentially causing a leg injury. Punahele scooted back to the fence, but Maximov trapped a leg and peppered him with short punches. Maximov fired a knee as Soriano climbed back up; Maximov would later hoist Soriano up — not an easy feat — and dump him back down. Soriano appeared to struggle to make it back to his feet far more in the third, that apparent leg injury the likely culprit. The first four minutes were essentially all Maximov, with Soriano’s only offense a few elbows. Then, entering the final minute, Soriano fired a few hammer fists while Maximov worked on yet another takedown.

Those were a little too late to win back the round for Punahele Soriano. And it wasn’t enough to win him the fight, which ended in a split decision.

Official Result: Nick Maximov def. Punahele Soriano by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)

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