Exclusive: Brandon Royval Doesn’t Count First Brandon Moreno Loss, Regrets Not Taking ‘Enough Risk’ vs. Alexandre Pantoja

Royval revisits his past fights with the flyweight division's finest.

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Brandon Royval gets real on his past losses.

The former title challenger has had quite the run since joining the UFC roster back in 2020. On the road to the top, Royval’s fought some of the best flyweights in the world, some of them even more than once like current champion Alexandre Pantoja

Royval Says He Was ‘Severely Compromised’ Before First Moreno Fight

In yet another rematch, the #3 ranked Royval steps up on short notice to meet former champ Brandon Moreno in the main event of UFC Mexico City on Feb. 24. ‘Raw Dawg’ previously ran into Moreno at UFC 255, where he lost by TKO after suffering a gnarly shoulder injury.

Royval is on the prowl to avenge his first UFC defeat nearly four years later.

“I feel like me and him hit just massive growth,” Royval told Middle Easy. “I think even back then, I don’t know what I was ranked, but I know he was the number one contender. It was also a short notice fight for me, too. So, there’s a couple similarities there. That being said I was just severely compromised going into that fight.

“My right shoulder was so bad that I didn’t really get to train for the fight. So, it’d be cool just kinda having a training camp and then just being able to use my best weapon, which I think is the jab. So, it’ll be cool kind of going in there and just not having to worry about any of that stuff.”

‘In My Head, I Do Not Count That A Loss’

Reflecting on his first fight with Moreno, Royval refuses to see it as a loss on his record due to the unlucky nature of the stoppage. 

“In my head, I do not count that as a loss,” Royval said of fighting Moreno at UFC 255. “Like, that shit’s crazy. It was like not a doctor stoppage or whatever it was. The fact that my shoulder happened… like I get it, if he had me in a kimura and busted my shoulder open, that’s him winning.

“But, I was literally on top of the guy like punching him in the face when my shoulder dislocated. I don’t necessarily like have as many bitter feelings as I still do with Pantoja.”

‘The Cannibal’ Pantoja picked up a rather lopsided victory over Royval at UFC 296. A month removed from his last fight, the title loss still bothers the Colorado-native to this day.

“Pantoja has all the headspace in in me for some reason. But with Moreno it’s just like, I don’t know. I feel like it was really cool to see him go on and win a belt and then do all the cool things that he’s done. There’s never been any like real bitter, bitter feelings that I have necessarily in that right.”

Royval Revisits Last Fight With Pantoja

While he did make it to the distance against the champ, Royval doesn’t seem happy with his performance, at all. ‘Raw Dawg’ reveals what exactly went wrong for him at UFC 296.

“Makes me sick to my stomach,” Royval said of the loss to Pantoja. “I like hate watching the fight. It’s something you need to do, but it’s just one of those things that’s like, I don’t know. I know it happened, too. Pantoja is such a danger and like where he’s good at is the back and it’s like in my eyes, I didn’t take enough risk. I should have took so much more risk.

“In my head I was like, I can wait here and I can kind of like get out of this intelligently and not take too much risk where I could possibly give up my back and get finished and or have him win the round like he did with Brandon Moreno, where lot of what he did was just backpacking him. I was just so afraid to get backpacked that I didn’t take that much risk.”

‘I Just Did Not Take Enough Risks’

Royval was reminded of his very first encounter with Pantoja in 2021, where he lost by submission instead of a decision. It’s a recurring theme fighting Pantoja, just ask Brandon Moreno who has lost three times to the reigning champion.

“I feel like I just did not take enough risks in that fight where it was like the first fight I had, even though I lost, it was like he never really got good back control. Anytime he went for, I was scrambling my ass off and was moving and it also caused me to give up my back. But it was just one of those like, I don’t know, I feel like I didn’t take enough risks and he also was just in there with a solid game plan. Pantoja is strong and he’s a really great grappler and he does so many great things.

“I feel like the two combined together of me game planning not to get my back taking and just try to avoid where he’s good at. Then, him game planning on just putting me on my ass and then controlling a lot and just giving what I giving what he can get out of me.”

Getting Back In The Title Conversation After ‘A Boring Fight’

The former title challenger apologizes for a lackluster showing his last time out in Las Vegas and looks to bounce back against another Brandon south of the border.

“It all tied to a boring fight. I take full on credit for that,” Royval continued. “Should have done way more. I thought that was my fight to win and I just hate it. I hate it for sure. It just sucks and I definitely just need to try to get that taste outta my mouth, get away back there. I feel like even taking a fast Moreno, even though it’s like a month and a half, two months later, it’s just like, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime and it’s something that would’ve jumped all over in any situation.

“It’s cool that I kind of can just get right back into the talk and maybe fight one or two more times before I can get back into that title shot.”

Published on January 18, 2024 at 1:49 pm
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