Flyweight standout Brandon Royval is gearing up for his first shot at UFC gold this December.
On Wednesday, Dana White made a series of blockbuster announcements, including the reveal that Alexandre Pantoja would defend his flyweight title for the first time as the promotion closes out its pay-per-view schedule with UFC 296. Meeting Pantoja in the co-main event of the evening will be the No. 4 ranked contender, Brandon Royval.
Following the big announcement, Royval spoke with James Lynch in a MiddleEasy exclusive interview to discuss his impending title tilt against the newly crowned 125-pound king.
During their conversation, Royval revealed that he was admittedly concerned that he might be passed up for a title opportunity in favor of ex-champion Brandon Moreno. Asked if he ever felt like streaking standout Amir Albazi could have snuck in and stolen the shot from him, Royval made it clear that Albazi, despite his impressive run thus far, was never considered for the UFC 296 slot.
“No, I wasn’t worried that he was going to get the shot,” Royval said. “I was worried that [Brandon] Moreno was going to get the shot. I know Albazi wasn’t even part of the conversation, to be honest. No offense to him, but I knew from what Jason was telling me and what other people were telling me that Amir Albazi wasn’t even being considered. It was just between Moreno and I.”
Brandon Royval is Excited to Share the Spotlight with Some of the Sports’ Biggest Names
In the UFC 296 headliner, reigning welterweight champion Leon Edwards will return to put his title on the line against division gatekeeper Colby Covington. Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson has also suggested that his fight with the undefeated Shavkat Rakhmonov could be added to the card as well, making the promotion’s return to T-Mobile Arena a star-studded spectacular.
Sharing his excitement over being featured on such a loaded card, Royval said:
“Straight up, I was just hoping to see as many big names as possible on that card,” Royval revealed. “I was pretty positive… I knew I was going to get the title shot like a month ago. I was pretty positive it was going to be me. I just wanted the date to be at the T-Mobile Arena and I wanted as many big names as possible because I feel like Pantoja and I don’t have the biggest following, to be honest, but we’re two of the most exciting fighters in the UFC.
“Once you guys get eyes on us and see how we fight and what we do, then the following is bound to happen. I just want as many big names as possible. I was hoping Conor McGregor would be on the card, or O’Malley was on the card. I could even be third down, fourth down. I didn’t give a sh*t. I just wanted to be on that card and have eyes on me.”
🚨 HUGE FIGHT NEWS 🚨
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Brandon Royval’s scrap with Alexandre Pantoja will serve as both a flyweight title fight and a rematch as the two previously competed at a Fight Night event in August 2021. On that night, Pantoja came out on top, scoring a second-round submission victory.
Detailing the improvements he’s made in the years since, Royval suggested that his mindset as both a man and a fighter has matured, making him much smarter and thus more dangerous inside the Octagon.
“I think what I’ve improved in general and all-around is my mindset as a man,” Royval said. “I feel like when I was younger and I’d walk into the cage, I’d rush into everything. If you’d seen that first Pantoja fight, you see me walk out for the second round and you think,’ This fight’s over. Brandon Royval’s got this sh*t,’ and in my head, I was like, ‘I have this sh*t won.'”
He continued, “Once you get to the top tier, to be smart is one of the best things and I felt like when I was younger, my best attribute was that I would bring it. Not only do I bring it, but I’m super intelligent when it comes to it and I’m one of the more skilled fighters in the UFC. As soon as I win this fight, I want to prove that. I want to be on that pound-for-pound list and all of the above.”
As for his prediction, Royval has every intention of adding another highlight-reel-worthy finish to his record whilst taking home the gold.
“I’m gonna knock him out. I want to knock him out or I want to drop him and submit him. One of the two,” Royval added.
A Win at UFC 296 Would Make Royval the First UFC Champion from Factory X
If Royval’s prediction comes to fruition and he leaves Sin City with a UFC title wrapped around his waist, he will be the first fighter from Factory X to do so.
“For the last couple of years, I’ve had that in my head that I’m going to be the first Factory X champion and I feel like the moment that happens, it’s going to open up so many doors for so many other fighters,” Royval said. “I see Moreno gets on a card and three of his teammates get signed to the UFC because he’s on that same card. I want that same thing with me.”
Brandon Royval goes into his first UFC title opportunity boasting a 15-6 overall record. 5-2 under the UFC banner, Royval is currently riding a three-fight win streak that includes back-to-back finishes against Matt Schnell and Matheus Nicolau.
Watch the full interview below: