UFC Sophomore Punahele Soriano ignited 2021 and what turned out to be a dynamite main card with a first-round TKO when the powerhouse promotion returned to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. Of course, most would have expected the twenty-eight-year-old Hawaiian with a boyish grin to meet the media backstage and cheerfully relive every glorious detail of his victory while the memories were still warm—which he did, for the most part. Although Soriano couldn’t be happier with where he currently stood in the new year, his 2020 nearly transformed him into someone he, nor his girlfriend, recognized.
While much of the world continues its recovery from the rollercoaster ride known as 2020—with many more bumps to come—Soriano spent all of last year on the sidelines nursing injuries. While confined at home with his loving girlfriend due to the pandemic and unable to be locked inside the Octagon, the spirit of Greg Hardy summoned itself into the middleweight. As Soriano shared with the media, he was inches away from bettering his undefeated streak from the comfort of his own living room. “Being on the sidelines really hurt,” Soriano said. “You can ask my girlfriend; there were a lot of times I just snapped at her. Maybe we’re watching fights, or maybe I was just on the couch in pain and can’t move. I’d just look at her…(insert loud roar)…ya know, get mad for no reason.”
Greg Hardy, a UFC heavyweight who always finds a way to squeeze his massive frame onto the main card of a marquee event, has not been widely accepted by the MMA audience. Marked as damaged goods during a stint in the NFL for receiving domestic violence charges, which were later expunged, the negative image has remained a blight on Hardy, even after slipping out of a costume resembling the Michelin Man and capturing glimpses of success in his underwear and four-ounce gloves.
For demonstrating such restraint in emotionally taxing times, Soriano should be a hard-hitting commodity always featured on the main card while Hardy, on the other hand, should be forced to make his significant other a sandwich and get bumped onto the prelims.
Being branded with the nickname “Story Time,” we here at MMA Storytime are pulling for Soriano’s continued development, both as a lover and a fighter.