UFC Louisville: Punahele Soriano Overpowers Miguel Baeza in 170lb Debut

Miguel Baeza and Punahele Soriano, UFC Louisville
Miguel Baeza and Punahele Soriano, UFC Louisville weigh-in Credit: Youtube/UFC

Hawaii’s Punahele Soriano made the move to welterweight at UFC Louisville on Saturday, where he welcomed Miguel Baeza back to the octagon.

Baeza, known for thrilling finishes and a war with Santiago Ponzinibbio, had missed all of 2023, leaving the question of ring rust up in the air.

Early on at the KFC Yum! Center, Baeza put Soriano on the fence; later, he’d wrap up a guillotine, though when Soriano pulled free, he was in position to do some damage. Baeza would survive, later locking up a heel hook. Soriano gutted it out, and landed some heavy blows from a seated position, but still Baeza held onto the limb. More heavy blows from Soriano were followed by a roll, with Miguel holding onto the leg. This time, he went after a kneebar, but Soriano survived, then went after Baeza back on the feet, only for the horn to sound.

A crazy first round, with Soriano showing he had clearly held onto his power despite dropping 15 pounds. Round two opened with a Baeza front kick to the body; Soriano answered with a takedown, and nearly took the back, with Baeza rolling. Soriano was able to rip the body and land a few hammer fists to the head; Baeza closed up his guard, for the time being accepting the position. Soriano stayed busy on top while Baeza hunted for an arm-bar. That didn’t happen, and Soriano opened up, dropping bombs until Baeza rolled to his knees out of desperation.

Punahele Soriano was able to control from a three-quarter position, not quite taking the back, pounding away with short punches, not quite able to put Baeza away.

Miguel Baeza needed to switch things up in the third, but instead was immediately taken to the fence, and taken down, by Punahele Soriano. The Hawaiian was having his way with Baeza, and it seemed like the ref was getting ready to make the call. Baeza rolled to his knees, doing just enough to stay in the fight. Soriano, meanwhile, landed punch after thudding punch to the side of Baeza while the pair continued the grappling battle. If Soriano was slowing, meanwhile, Baeza appeared exhausted.

The fight was never close, the outcome never in question as Soriano earned himself a one-sided decision win to open the UFC Louisville main card.

Official Result: Punahele Soriano def. Miguel Baeza by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-27)