HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - After a self-proclaimed “disappointing” performance Tuesday night in Dana White’s Contender Series, Punahele Soriano earned a contract with the UFC.
“It's unbelievable,” Soriano said. “You may have seen, I was shattered, I was so sad, I was really disappointed in my performance, but I ended up getting the contract luckily and i was just so grateful, overcome with complete happiness.”
The Kahuku graduate defeated Jamie Pickett by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26), becoming the newest fighter with Hawaii ties to join the UFC.
“I’m just excited to start the new journey,” Soriano said. “The goal is to be the best, I want to show them why I was disappointed, what more I can bring to the table.”
Following his Tuesday night victory, the Waialua native was visually displeased, personally, with his performance in the octagon, despite going a perfect 6-0 after this fight.
“I'm kind of embarrassed now that I look back,” Soriano said. “Like why did i cry? I don't know it just came over me, as I left the cage, I kept seeing people were so happy for me that i did good but i knew deep inside that it wasn't what I wanted it to be, I felt that I let each person down.”
The crowd did not share the feeling, as his friends and family cheered him on in the stands, even getting cheers from fellow local boy and the usually quiet Brad Tavares.
“It’s always nice,” Soriano said. “I’ve had Dan (Ige) since day one, day one high school, but the crazy thing is -- Brad Tavares -- emotionally he’s kind of to himself, he’s a tough guy, he’s the gym bully -- to see him kind of put it out there for me and cheered for me, it felt really good.”
The former D-III All American wrestler is the newest face in the pipeline of Professional fighters from the islands, hoping to build off of those who have come before him.
“Everyone in Hawaii feeds off of each others energy and just try to grow,” Soriano said. “I feel there’s no animosity between anyone among the Hawaiian fighters, everyone’s trying to build off of each other.”
No details have been released yet on Soriano’s contract or his debut, but expect to see him in the octagon very soon.