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Punahele Soriano recalls health scare ahead of UFC Vegas 67: ‘This could be the night I don’t wake up’

UFC Fight Night: Soriano v Lungiambula Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Punahele Soriano nearly didn’t make it to UFC Vegas 67 this weekend (Sat., Jan. 14, 2023).

At just age 30, Soriano hoped to get back in action sooner than he is now, but a pair of sicknesses put him down for the temporary count.

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 68 On ESPN+

TOP-RANKED HEAVYWEIGHT HEADLINERS! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., Feb. 4, 2023, headlined by a hard-hitting main event between No. 7-ranked Heavyweight contender, Derrick Lewis, finally locking horns with No. 12-seeded Serghei Spivac. In UFC Vegas 68’s co-main event, Light Heavyweight hopefuls Da-Un Jung and Devin Clark hook ‘em up on ESPN+. Please note: UFC Vegas 68 start time for the main card is scheduled for 1 a.m. ET.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

“I got super, super sick. I think I almost died,” Soriano said at UFC Vegas 67 media day (h/t MMA Junkie). “I had like shingles that turned into cellulitis on my face and under my heart (laughs). It was funny, I ended up going to the ER (emergency room) and they had to give me antibiotics and all that crap. But the night before, I remember just laying on the couch and it felt like I was in a chokehold and I was like, ‘This could be the night I don’t wake up,’ and I was just like, ‘Oh, I hope I wake up,’ and I went to bed (laughs). I woke up.”

Soriano has been one of the more entertaining prospects on the rise at 185 pounds since arriving on the UFC scene in Dec. 2019 after winning on Dana White’s Contender Series. In July 2022, Soriano scored a wicked knockout over Dalcha Lungiambula (watch highlights) and looks to get back on a winning streak against Roman Kopylov at the UFC APEX.

While the Hawaii native survived his brief health scare, he was left with constant reminders.

“It was just bacteria that got under the skin or something,” Soriano said. “I got some crazy scars that you can kind of see on my face from where it was and under my chest there’s a nice little scar from it. So, that’s cool.”


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 67 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 67: “Strickland vs. Imavov” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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