Former UFC featherweight Sean Soriano isn’t happy with where his fighting career is, but he hopes to change all of that starting Friday night at CES MMA 44.
Sean Soriano’s mixed martial arts career has been a rocky road over the past few years, but he’s ready to get back on track.
Soriano made his UFC debut in January 2014, and after three straight losses, was released just over a year later. He picked up a quick knockout win immediately following his three-fight Octagon stint, but is now riding a two-fight skid a year and a half later.
Dealing with the up-and-down nature of his career has mentally been a “constant battle” for the Providence, RI native but he’s managed to stay positive and confident and hasn’t given up. Soriano said that he’s kept going and remained adamant he’ll eventually find consistency mostly because he has an ego and a strong support system.
“I’m hard headed,” Soriano told BloodyElbow.com’s The MMA Circus. “If I believe I’m gonna do something, I’m gonna do it. The fact that I’ve always told myself what I’m gonna do in this sport and how I’m gonna do it, that’s where the ego comes into play. Kind of like, I’m not done yet. I know people have been calling me out and it’s been a roller coaster of a ride, but the ego’s still there. That little pride of mine in my little last name, it doesn’t allow me to quit.
“[My coaches, friends, and family] have been supportive and they kind of just pick me up when I need those little pick ups. Trust me: anyone that goes on a couple-fight losing streak and tells you they don’t think about hanging it up is lying to you. This is very taxing on the mind. A lot goes into a fight that people don’t see — two months to prepare for one night that maybe can go wrong in 30 seconds.”
Hungry for success, Soriano said he’s “trying to look at fighting a little differently now.” The 27-year-old was once too concerned about what his opponent planned on doing. Now, Soriano plans on focusing and worrying about his game; nothing else.
“I know a lot of fighters might tell you that usually when they lose, it’s more mental for them, but that’s definitely one of the cases for me,” he said. “When I flow and I fight freely, people see great performances.
“People come in solely with a strict game plan against me. They’re not really going in there and letting the fight go where it goes. ‘The way to beat Sean is get him to the ground, this and that.’ Instead of me going in there and just stressing things, like, ‘OK, you know he’s going to shoot, you know he’s going to shoot,’ I’m gonna go in there and make it my fight. If I make it my fight, good things happen.”
As a striker, Soriano was given the opposite of a favorable matchup in all three of his UFC fights. He fought three grapplers — Tatsuya Kawajiri, Chas Skelly, and Charles Rosa — and was mostly grinded down in all three showings. Therefore, Soriano doesn’t think he was able to show his full potential inside the Octagon.
“None of my losses have been me getting beat up,” he said. “Nobody has really dominated me, besides Chas Skelly, who was dominant on top. But even in that, I didn’t take no damage. Most of them are just trying to hold me or submit me.
“People just look at it and see the L. I gotta accept that and I gotta make my changes,” he said. “Everyone has their own time. Everyone’s on a different journey, a different path. When it’s someone’s time, it’s someone’s time. I just gotta maybe accept that it wasn’t my time. Maybe it was just a little learning thing.
Soriano knows what it feels like to compete for the UFC, and he wants to experience that feeling again. In order to make it back to the big leagues, he needs to get his career back on track, starting Friday evening at CES MMA 44, where he fights Jacob Bohn in a featherweight contest.
And surrounded by a plethora of UFC fighters at South Florida’s Combat Club, where he’s trained since the Blackzilians split, Soriano is more motivated to earn a second crack at UFC glory than ever before.
“None of my teammates look at me as a washed-up fighter, and I appreciate that big time,” he said. “A lot of them have moved on and gone on to the UFC and are doing their own thing, but if you ever hear them talk, they will always mention my name.
“The level of fighting I have is up to par with everybody in the gym. Now it’s just making it count inside the ring.”
One of the biggest reasons Soriano knows he will eventually re-sign with the UFC, no matter what it takes, is his youth. He’s been a professional for nearly nine years, but he’s still two and a half years away from 30 years old. He arguably has yet to even reach his physical and athletic prime.
“I’m still the baby,” he said. “And people don’t understand I didn’t have an amateur career. I went straight into pro, and then I went 8-0. My first losses are on the big stage. My first (UFC) fight was Kawajiri in Singapore, co-main event.
“I do guarantee that I will be back in the UFC. I don’t know when, but that is a guarantee; I gotta join the party with my friends.”