UFC on ESPN+ 58: Maximov vs Punahele - Prediction & Analysis - 02/05/22
Nick Maximov vs Punahele Soriano
Punahele Soriano (8-1) defeated Jamie Picket back in 2019 on Contender Series to ink a UFC contract. He started out hot by blasting through Oskar Piechota and Duško Todorović, both in the first rounds. Brendan Allen proved a tougher test, snapping the Hawaiian’s undefeated streak during his last trip to the cage. “Puna” will look to get back in the win column this Saturday against Nick Maximov.
Nick Maximov (7-0) largely outgrappled and controlled Cody Brundage in his most recent UFC contest to extend his undefeated streak to 7. The Diaz protege will look to ride the momentum into this one which promises to be a fun scrap between two southpaws. Maximov will hold a 4 inch reach advantage and 2 inches of height over Soriano.
How They Match Up
Soriano came out firing against Allen during his last fight, landing crisp shots and moving very well. He then sort of gassed out and allowed Allen to piece him up for the remaining two rounds. Knocking his two previous opponents out in the first round can sometimes do that to you. Combined with Allen’s style of making it a high volume war plus landing repeatedly to the body, Soriano just quickly faded. When he’s fresh though, he’s incredibly quick, technical, and noticeably powerful.
On the opposite end of the spectrum we have Nick Maximov, who’s a bit more of a grinder. He used this strategy to outwrestle his previous opponents with relentlessness. What I really like about his game is he makes so many good decisions when trying to get it to the mat. And when he’s successful, he balances keeping position with administrating damage. Once you get back up, that’s fine, it won’t be long before he’s back in on a single. His striking leaves plenty to be desired however. Shelling up and then jumping forward with an overhand left seems to be his go-to. I don’t see that technique having much success here but it’s pretty much just a shell game for what he really wants to do.
If Soriano hasn’t fixed his gas tank issue, he’s in for a very tiring night cause even if he stuffs a couple take downs, Maximov is going to continue to grind him. But every second this stays on the feet, Soriano is going to eat him alive. Pretty standard striker vs grappler match really. With only 1 loss between both combatants, it’s tough to determine how they react to adversity but I’ll at least go out on a limb and say both guys seem very durable (ultra tough Hawaiian and Diaz Academy). At 23 years of age, Maximov will have that fearlessness mixed with that Diaz mean streak which I think will serve him well. The last thing I should mention here is we haven’t really seen Soriano’s wrestling defense tested as no one has tried to take him down; and he’s generally always gotten the fight he’s wanted (other than Allen turning up da riddum on him). Give me Maximov to grind out a workmanlike decision here.