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Punahele Soriano contemplated retirement prior to UFC on ESPN 57 win: ‘I felt so much pressure’

Although Punahele Soriano made it look easy on Saturday night, it was everything but an easy road to get to the octagon.

Soriano (10-4 MMA, 4-4 UFC) had a dominant and successful welterweight debut at UFC on ESPN 57, defeating Baeza (10-4 MMA, 3-4 UFC) in a clean, unanimous decision win. After the fight, Soriano opened up about the struggled he had to deal with in preparation.

“The whole camp, I felt so much pressure,” Soriano told the UFC after the fight. “Every day, I was contemplating whether I could still do this, whether if this is for me and if I could deal with this. Fight week, for whatever reason, I had the ultimate confidence. I was supremely confident, no added pressure and I believed in myself.”

On a two-fight skid and 1-4 in his past five outings, the doubts crept back the day of the fight. Backstage, warming up for his bout, Soriano had to battle those same demons.

“I said this a few times, but I was contemplating retirement backstage and thanks to my man Mike at the (UFC Performance Institute), I just let go of that balloon and started thinking about something I cared about – like my wife and my dogs, anything that I loved,” Soriano said. “(I was) ultimately reminding myself that I love this sport and love what I do.”

In the end, Soriano is happy with the way things turned out. He’s proud of his performance and that he got to show his wrestling skills.

“I thought I was Khabib,” Soriano said. “I thought I had a big afro on my head, and I was going to come out speaking Dagestan or whatever they speak. I wasn’t sure who I was anymore.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 57.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie