Preview: UFC on ESPN 27 Prelims

Allen vs. Soriano

By Tom Feely Jul 22, 2021

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A solid main card at UFC on ESPN 27 this Saturday in Las Vegas leads to some strong spillover onto this six-fight preliminary slate, which should provide its share of impressive action. Middleweight knockout artist Punahele Soriano gets his toughest test yet opposite Brendan Allen in the featured prelim, which figures to be an exciting bout no matter how it goes; Ian Heinisch meets Nassourdine Imavov in an important fight for both men; and there is the bantamweight banger between Adrian Yanez and Randy Costa, which has rightfully been hyped in the weeks leading up to this card. Plus, we have the eternal battle of Sijara Eubanks against the flyweight limit, so all in all, this looks like an acceptable undercard for a non-numbered Ultimate Fighting Championship event.

Now to the preview for the UFC on ESPN 27 “Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw” prelims:

Middleweights

NR | Brendan Allen (16-4, 4-1 UFC) vs. NR | Punahele Soriano (8-0, 2-0 UFC)

ODDS: Allen (-112), Soriano (-108)

Soriano is rather quietly one of the more interesting prospects on the UFC’s middleweight roster. That is mostly due to inactivity. After announcing himself with a quick knockout of Oskar Piechota in his UFC debut at the tail end of 2019, the Hawaiian missed all of 2020 before obliterating Dusko Todorovic on the first card of 2021. While Soriano’s knockout power gets the headlines, that is all buoyed by the fact that he comes from a wrestling background—a skill he leaned on in his Dana White’s Contender Series win over Jamie Pickett that earned him a UFC contract. Even just two fights into his UFC career, Soriano looks ready for a big step up in competition, and he gets it here.

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Allen enjoyed a hot start to his UFC career with wins over Kevin Holland, Tom Breese and Kyle Daukaus, all on the back of a messy but aggressive style. He just marches forward and eats damage while looking to grapple with his opponents. That worked to surprising effect in those first three wins—including finishes of Holland and Breese—but Sean Strickland proved to be a hard ceiling for Allen’s approach, stifling his best weapons and laying on a beating for a second-round knockout. To his credit, Allen looked to have a smarter approach against Karl Roberson in April, but Soriano’s set of skills figures to be a much tougher test. Soriano’s power will likely cause plenty of problems, and Allen’s grappling could be shut down by the fact that the Hawaiian appears to be a better wrestler. There is a chance that Allen could take Soriano into the deepest waters of his career and take the advantage in the later rounds, but the path there is going to involve so much danger that it is hard to bet on that happening. The pick is Soriano via first-round knockout.

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