Miguel Baeza vs. Punahele Soriano prediction, pick, start time, odds for UFC on ESPN 57

Miguel Baeza and Punahele Soriano meet Saturday in the main card opener of UFC on ESPN 57 from KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. Check out this quick breakdown of the matchup from MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom.

Miguel Baeza vs. Punahele Soriano UFC on ESPN 57 preview

Baeza (10-3 MMA, 3-3 UFC) entered the UFC on a tear after his Dana White’s Contender Series appearance. His first three fights resulted in second-round stoppage victories over Hector Aldana, Matt Brown and Takashi Sato. However, he has since struggled. Baeza is currently on a three-fight skid, including back-to-back stoppage losses to bring his UFC run to .500. … Soriano (9-4 MMA, 3-4 UFC) will be looking to get back to that .500 mark. Soriano also came out of the gates hot after his DWCS signning. He stopped Oskar Piechota and Dusko Todorovic in the first round, but has since gone 1-4 over his last five.

Miguel Baeza vs. Punahele Soriano UFC on ESPN 57 expert pick, prediction

Continuing their anti-Joe Silva card formatting trend, the UFC matchmakers not-so-surprisingly open the card with a welterweight bout between Soriano and Baeza.

In Mick Maynard and Sean Shelby’s defense, these two are both exciting fighters who could produce a potential welterweight war.

Baeza, who is coming off north of a two-year layoff, will be attempting to stop the bleeding of a three-fight losing skid opposite southpaw Soriano.

Although Baeza officially stands 1-0 opposite UFC-level southpaws (Takashi Sato), he’s never faced one as imposing and dangerous as “Puna.”

A former middleweight fighter and collegiate wrestler, Soriano has largely made his money by punishing opponents with his crushing power on the feet. The Hawaiian has underperformed in his recent string of losses, so expect Soriano to come out with something to prove this Saturday.

Despite my admitted bias for Soriano and his team at Xtreme Couture, I believe that Baeza – who is the deserved favorite – is a dangerous fighter to back as a favorite due to his suspect chin. For that reason, I’ll side with Soriano to score a semi-surprising knockout via a check right hook in Round 2.

Miguel Baeza vs. Punahele Soriano UFC on ESPN 57 odds

The oddsmakers and the public are favoring the fighter from Florida, listing Baeza (-184) and Soriano (+142) via FanDuel.

Miguel Baeza vs. Punahele Soriano UFC on ESPN 57 start time, how to watch

As the main card opening bout, Baeza and Soriano are expected to make their walks to the octagon at approximately 8:05 p.m. ET. The fight broadcasts live on ESPN and streams on ESPN+.

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

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie