Hawaii’s own Punahele Soriano will help break in the final fights of this weekend’s UFC fight night when he takes on Russian fighter Roman Kopylov. The two men are so far set to square off right before Soriano’s fellow islander Dan Ige fights in the co-main event.
Coming off of a KO win over Dalcha Lungiambula in July puts Soriano at 3-2 in his young UFC career. With just 11 fights under his belt, he is very much a fighter who is learning on the job with only five fights before appearing on Dana White’s contender Series. Kopylov, also coming off of a win, last defeated Alessio Di Chirico in September via third-round KO. A win over Soriano would help right the first two losses in his first two UFC fights and put him at 2-2 in the promotion.
Soriano will come in as the betting favorite at -172 over the Russian master of sports.
- Punahele Soriano: -172
- Roman Kopylov: +134
Soriano is a southpaw fighter who is rather patient for someone with so many first-round finishes. While his KO power is evident, he does pick his moments to burst in well, if not the most technically. He stands tall in a bladed stance and a high guard and likes to lead with his jab and reach left cross which he then follows with his feet into a conventional stance, allowing him to follow his opponent to the cage as they retreat. His decision to throw his entire body weight forward behind his cross adds to the power he produces making that particular shot devastating, but it does cause him to wade in on one line and he has a habit of dropping his head at times on entry.
Roman Kopylov is a tall striker, who like Soriano stands in a southpaw stance. He has good distance management and is the better kicker of the two. He likewise likes the straight left, but he is quick with his follow up straights as they come from his shoulders rather than from his entire body, so his combinations come in quicker succession to Soriano but doesn’t carry the same brute force. That being said, based on his career, he still carries more than enough to constantly sting his opponents and find those TKOs. However because he stands so tall and moves so fluidly on his toes, when a straight punch does get through on him, it’s common to see his head snapped back due to his posture.
Kopylov’s best bet is to make use of his kicks, Soriano is dangerous with his punches but he is a bit more one dimensional in the total striking game. Kopylov has a great left high kick and often fills gaps in exchanges with a quick lead low kick. For Soriano, a former division three Collegiate wrestler mixing his wrestling in with his striking is the name of the game. Although, we have become accustomed to seeing Soriano use his wrestling to defend more takedowns than attack them, he has become a master at sprawling and countering level changes to end up on top whether it be by hitting a switch, sprawling and stepping over or beating them to the step around. Soriano needs to look for more aggressive proactive wrestling opportunities, because we have seen Kopylov have difficulties on his back and because we have seen him gas or fall victim to volume in the past.
Prediction and Betting Guide
While Kopylov may be the quicker, more technical striker, he has been criticized in the past for a lack of volume and simply being outworked on the feet. We then saw him up the tempo but begin to fade before he was able to find the KO in his last fight, but the biggest hole in his game is his grappling from bottom position. He has good wrestling and so finding that takedown is no easy task for Soriano but if he can I believe he can ride Kopylov and wear him down, Soriano is durable so he may have to whether a few storms on the feet but his chances of winning become very high the more he makes Kopylov work.
Prediction: Punahele Soriano to win (-172 odds)
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.