Hawaiian-born fighter, Punahele “Story Time” Soriano is 29 years old and 8-1 as a professional. He won his first two UFC fights but lost his most recent bout against Brendan Allen by unanimous decision. Nick Maximov is 24 years old and undefeated as a pro. His UFC debut was a unanimous victory against Cody Brundage.
Soriano is nearly a 2:1 favorite over Maximov before UFC Fight Night 200.
- Soriano: -190
- Maximov: +155
Soriano is a prototypical Hawaiian fighter — tough, powerful, and willing to stand in a tire and trade blows until someone drops. More times than not, the Xtreme Couture fighter is the one left standing. Soriano has good knockout power from either hand and a variety of strikes, but his best finishing punch is a deadly straight left hand. He stands southpaw, with his left hand cocked and ready to fire at a moment’s notice. He often uses his jab to prod his opponent and distract them while he gets closer into range where he can force the fight to be more of a pocket brawl. Once in tight, Soriano has a solid grappling game to fall back on; however, he primarily grapples only if he isn’t winning the exchanges or if he stuns his opponent and looks for a finish. Overall, Soriano is an exciting, scrappy, and powerful boxing-heavy fighter with the cardio and chin to continue coming forward. In this fight, the biggest question is if Soriano can grapple defensively; he has yet to be truly tested in that department.
Soriano won’t want to go to the ground against Maximov, who has a solid jiu-jitsu game and accredited wrestling foundation. Often, I’m frustrated by fighters who have the talent to get submission finishes but don’t have the wrestling or fight IQ needed to get the fight into their world. In Maximov’s case, he has both. In just two UFC fights, Maximov has shot 20 takedowns. While he’s only landed 30% of those shots and has yet to get a submission win, I’ve seen glimpses of real talent. He racked up over 11 minutes of control time in his debut and showed solid ground and pound without sacrificing position. His second fight was much of the same, racking up 9 minutes of control time. Maximov has found success shooting and securing takedowns, but he’ll need to start finding finishes if he wants to impress more.
I like Maximov as a prospect and believe he has a path to victory if he wrestles early and takes some chances on the mat where he has the edge in jiu-jitsu. However, Soriano has the clear advantage where each round starts — on the feet. I would not parlay Soriano with anyone because I think this fight could be closer than the odds suggest, but I see Soriano picking Maximov off on the feet and being able to stuff the takedown attempts throughout. In the end, give me Soriano to win a decision behind his left hand.
Prediction: Soriano to win by decision
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.