Brendan Loughnane: Manchester PFL champion on building his MMA legacy and defending his featherweight title

Brendan Loughnane is looking to establish his legacy in the sport of MMA and in Manchester after winning the PFL featherweight belt and $1m dollars last year.

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Manchester MMA champion Brendan Loughnane says he is currently fighting in his “legacy season” as he battles to defend the belt and title he won last year.

Brendan became the first Mancunian to bring a top-level MMA championship back to the city when he was crowned the 2022 featherweight champion in the Professional Fighters League (PFL). He is now looking to keep hold of the belt in the PFL’s 2023 season and is preparing to fight Jesus Pinedo and follow up his campaign-opening victory against Brazilian Marlon Moraes.

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Brendan spoke about how he is approaching fighting in the PFL cage as the defending champion and what he wants his legacy to look like.

When is Brendan Loughnane fighting in the PFL next?

Brendan’s campaign to defend the belt he won in New York last year got off to the ideal start with a second-round technical knock out (TKO) win over former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) competitor Moraes. That gave Brendan five points and put him top of the PFL’s featherweight league table following the opening round of bouts.

Next up is an 8 June meeting in Atlanta in the USA against Peruvian fighter Pinedo, who opened his regular season account with a split decision loss to Gabriel Alves Braga. Despite that, Brendan says he is thoroughly preparing for him while training in Thailand and is well aware of the threat he poses.

Brendan Loughnane in the PFL cage for his fight against Marlon Moraes. Photo: PFLBrendan Loughnane in the PFL cage for his fight against Marlon Moraes. Photo: PFL
Brendan Loughnane in the PFL cage for his fight against Marlon Moraes. Photo: PFL

Brendan said: “He poses certain problems. He’s a southpaw, he’s unorthodox, he’s tall and big for the weight. We’re six weeks out and we’re just preparing like we usually do, diligently. We will leave no stone unturned, as always.”

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Brendan was delighted with how his opening fight against Moraes, which ended when a powerful kick to the leg left the Brazilian on the canvas and unable to continue, went. He said: “It was great, it went exactly as I planned and exactly as we worked for. It was a great start to the season and now it’s all systems go, we’ve just got to keep it going.”

Fans who want to watch Brendan in action in his second fight of the season will be able to tune in on DAZN.

What has Brendan said about defending his PFL featherweight belt this season?

Brendan wrote his name in British MMA history last November when he took the PFL featherweight crown by defeating Bubba Jenkins at Madison Square Garden, picking up a cheque for $1m in the process.

He is now the name to beat in the 145lb division of the PFL but says defending his belt is no more nerve-racking to the other high-profile fights he has faced in his MMA career.

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Brendan said: “I don’t think there’s any more pressure than fighting for $1m with all the world watching, or fighting Chris Wade in front of 6,000 people in England. Pressure doesn’t get more than that, I feel like I’m really used to it now.”

Brendan says he is enjoying life as the PFL champion, seeing it as the reward for the years of work in mixed martial arts which has seen him build up a record of 27-4 and make his way to the summit of the PFL.

However, he also revealed that his title defence is being built around training and preparing as though he is not the name to beat but still the fighter looking to make his way up and make his name.

PFL featherweight champion Brendan LoughnanePFL featherweight champion Brendan Loughnane
PFL featherweight champion Brendan Loughnane

Brendan, 33, said: “Being the champion is amazing, it’s a place I deserve to be. I worked hard to be in this position and I’m finally getting the accolades I deserve.

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“People look at you differently and I feel I’ve got some validation for the all the hard work I’ve done, as well as a nice metal belt to show for it. I feel I have to keep building.

“It’s hard to get to the top but it’s even harder to stay at the top. I’m training like I’m the underdog, the hungry one, like I’m the one chasing the belt. I have to find a way to do that because the last thing you want to do in my position is get complacent and let them all catch you up. That’s not going to happen.

“I’m in Thailand training about six hours a day and then resting on a Sunday. I’m here up to the fight, then I will fly staight to Atlanta and fight. After that I will go home for a week and have a week off with the family and then I will do the same circle again.”

What does a legacy season look like for Brendan?

Brendan describes the 2023 campaign as the defending featherweight champion as his “legacy season” and explained what that means for him, particularly when it comes to recognition of his achievements in sport in his home city.

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He said: “The plan is to have two belts on two shoulders, millions of dollars and my name in lights all over Manchester. This is my legacy season. My goal is for any time anybody mentions the words mixed martial arts in Manchester for my name to pop up, to be that guy, the one everybody knows is the man. That’s the plan and we’re well on track for it.”

Brendan Loughnane entering the PFL cageBrendan Loughnane entering the PFL cage
Brendan Loughnane entering the PFL cage

Brendan says he is currently looking no further than his meeting in the cage with Pinedo on 8 June, but after beating Moraes suggested in his interview that he was particularly keen to face Dagestani fighter Movlid Khaybulaev, who was the 2021 PFL featherweight champion and who won his 2023 opener.

Brendan said: “He is my only loss in the last four years. Obviously I want to fight him again. There were lots of mitigating circumstances in that fight but I feel if I fought him at 100% then I would wipe the floor with him. At the moment, though, it’s all about Pinedo in six weeks. We will then deal with the next guy after that, one at a time.”

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