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Punahele Soriano Contemplated Retirement Before UFC Louisville Victory



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Punahele Soriano had a lot on his mind going into his UFC on ESPN 57 clash against Miguel Baeza on Saturday.

Coming off consecutive stoppage losses and 1-4 in his last five bouts overall, Soriano was admittedly feeling the pressure ahead of his welterweight debut. However, “Story Time” grew confident as he entered fight week, which translated quite well into his performance at UFC Louisville. Soriano bounced back in a strong manner, barely falling short of getting the finish in a dominant unanimous decision win over Baeza. The Hawaiian also set records for the most significant ground strikes landed in a single UFC fight (136), the highest total strike differential in a three-round UFC fight (+309) and the largest significant strike differential (+137) in a single UFC bout at welterweight.

“It’s crazy. The whole camp, I felt so much pressure. Just every day contemplating whether I could still do this, whether if this is for me, if I can deal with it,” Soriano said in a backstage interview with the UFC. “And fight week, for whatever reason, I was ultimately confident, supremely confident, no added pressure and I believed in myself… I thought I was Khabib. I thought I had a big afro on my head. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna come out speaking Dagestan or whatever they speak. I wasn’t sure who I was anymore.”

Soriano was also contemplating retirement going into UFC Louisville and credits Micah Schnurstein, the mental health coach at the UFC Performance Institute, for helping him battle those thoughts.

“I have said this a few times, but I was contemplating retirement on the backstage and thanks to my man Micah at the PI, I just let go of that balloon and tried to focus onto something I cared about,” Soriano said. “I was thinking about my wife, my dogs, anything that I love, ultimately reminding myself that I love this sport and love what I do.”
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