UFC Vegas 67: Roman Kopylov Harnesses Body Shots to TKO Punahele Soriano

Roman Kopylov and Punahele Soriano, UFC Vegas 57
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 14: (L-R) Roman Kopylov of Russia punches Punahele Soriano in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on January 14, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Hawaiian bruiser Punahele Soriano brought a 3-2 UFC record, with all three wins coming by knockout, into his UFC Vegas 67 bout with Russian prospect Roman Kopylov. Kopylov entered the UFC with an undefeated 8-0 record. He then lost his first two bouts before winning his most recent fight by knockoutt.

This match-up had all the makings of a stand-up banger — and also saw Kopylov fighting out his contract.

Soriano opened up with an overhand left as both fighters are southpaws. He then shot a takedown but Kopylov stuffed it well. Puna was the more aggressive on early on. He connected with a few combinations but Roman’s movement and high guard made it hard to land clean. Kopylov started opening up behind his stiff jab but Puna would counter with big left hands that backed the Russian off. Still, Kopylov’s jab was excellent and started to redden Soriano’s face. Soriano seemed to be looking almost solely for the knockout as he would blitz forward throwing bombs. He shot another takedown with a minute left in the round but abandoned it quickly upon it being defended. Then Kopylov shot a reactive takedown and got Puna to the ground but Soriano was able to get back to his feet quickly before the round ended.

The second round began with the pair trading big shots early on as Kopylov landed a body kick and Puna landed an overhand. Kopylov started to try to work the body while Punahele tried to land uppercuts under the guard. Ninety seconds into the round Roman Kopylov landed a hellacious spinning back kick to the stomach of his opponent, but Soriano was tough and just kept going. Kopylov began to really focus on the body work and Punahele got hurt badly. He almost fell over when Kopylov swarmed him at one point but his toughness was unreal and he kept going. Until, that is, Kopylov landed another body kick which just forced Soriano to turtle up. From there, Roman threw shots until the referee stepped in.

This was perhaps Kopylov’s best performance in the UFC, beating a tough opponent with slick striking and good takedown defense. He has officially righted the ship after a disappointing start to his run in the promotion.

Official Result: Roman Kopylov def. Punahele Soriano by TKO (body kick and punches) Round 2, 3:19