IT was another disappointing loss for promising Filipino-American mixed martial artist Punahele Soriano.
The Hawaii-born Soriano with full Filipino roots peppered Dustin Stoltzfus in the main card opener of UFC Fight Night Sunday at the Moody Center in Austin, Texas, but couldn’t land any lethal combinations.
Soriano was winning the exchange of strikes, but Stoltzfus mixed his attacks with kicks and takedowns that the Filipino-American couldn’t parry—Stoltzfus was a Division III All-American in wrestling.
A Stoltzfus takedown and a strong left decked Soriano in the final second of the first round to give the German-American the confidence and the edge with his sheer volume of shots.
The knockdown swung to Stoltzfus’s favor with judges Gino Garcia and Patrick Patlan giving it 10-9 to the German-American with only Mike Beltran giving the nod to Soriano, 10-9.
Round two saw much different body language for both fighters as Soriano was clearly shaken by the knockdown and Stoltzfus grew in confidence—two takedowns saw Stoltzfus take the starch out of Soriano.
Slipping the rear-naked choke, Soriano had no choice but to tap out at the 4:10 mark.
Soriano won his first two fights when he first arrived in the UFC after coming out of Dana White’s Contender Series.
This loss—the fourth in his last five matches—clearly placed Soriano in the dire straits that Stoltzfus found himself coming into this fight.
Stoltzfus had lost four of five matches and desperately needed a win to keep his UFC career alive.
Stoltzfus climbed to 16-5 and was awarded Performance of the Night and the $50,000 bonus. Soriano dropped to 9-4.
The penultimate UFC event for 2023 is set Sunday with Song Yadong taking on Chris Gutierrez in the main event. It will be televised live in the Philippines via the Premier Sports Channel on Skycable and Cignal as well as the Blast TV streaming application.