Interview with Brendan Loughnane
Brendan Loughnane has been known in MMA circles for a long time. First making his name known on The Ultimate Fighter, then his rise as a top fighter on the European and Russian scene. Lately he’s been making waves on American soil, becoming the most controversial decision in Contender Series history and now, signing with the Professional Fighter’s League (PFL).
For Loughnane, though the Contender Series didn’t end ideally, he did get the platform he needed to show off his skills.
“This Contender thing, platform it got me the chance for everyone to see my skills and that’s all I needed. And as soon as I got that, all eyes were on me and now it got to continue and the only way to do that is world class performances and that’s what I plan on doing again.”
He will have that chance with PFL as they promised him up to seven fights in 12 months depending on his success. He already fought Matt Wagy in a showcase fight, earning a unanimous decision victory and will face David Valente in another showcase fight on December 31 at the PFL Championships.
The relationship between Brendan Loughnane and the PFL has actually been forged over the past two years as he almost signed with them multiple times.
“I nearly signed for the first season, this was on the table and I didn’t really know too much on the organization, it was brand new. Then I sat and watched it the first season, didn’t take part obviously. I was like wow, I like this show. So it was an easy decision after the Contender (Series) really. It was even a massive toss up to go on the Contender (Series) to be honest, I was going to come here. The path was chosen that way, it led me back here so it was perfect. This was choice one but I’ve got management, I’ve got a coach so we decided to go that road but it didn’t work out so this where we are now and I’m more than happy.”
It’s also a place where Loughnane will truly have to prove he is as good as he believes he is. The PFL has been upgrading its talent level each season and has promised an even deeper roster next year. But for Loughnane, that is exactly what he is looking for.
“This place is littered with amazing fighters, the featherweight division is stacked. I know its not going to be an easy year next year, I don’t want it to be an easy year next year. I plan to fight the best guys there and I heard they are changing up the roster they are getting all new fighters again. Its going to be full of killers and at the end of the day its what I got in this sport for. It’s the level where I’m at, I’m training at Alliance with some of the best featherweights in the world, I know where I’m at and where I need to be.”
But Loughnane won’t go in as a complete unknown, with the PFL building him up in showcase fights, other fighters will surely take notice. Starting with his current opponent David Valente.
“I’ve got a massive target on my back. They are saying they are guaranteeing me a spot in next season but I’ve got to win these fights. David is trying to make a name. Just like the last guy, I’ve got to go out there and show my skills, all around MMA. Cause next year, especially when you have to fight twice in one night, it’s a whole different ball game to any other promotion. So its great to get two fights in with quick succession, that’s something I’m not used to. Next year there’s going to be five back to back, it’s all new stuff to me. Guys like Lance Palmer, I do respect, he’s won nine fights in it, that’s not easy to do it in short succession. People have nine over five years, six years and he’s done nine over two years. He’s the man to beat.”
Loughnane is looking at Palmer as an example of what he would like to accomplish. With a 19-3 record built upon solid veterans of the sport, he had a hard time getting fights.
“I did a full year without getting a fight. The thing is, I’m 19-3 now and if we look at these three losses, they’re very debatable, all three of them. It would be a whole different ball game now if we were talking 22-0. These losses are against my name. And when my name gets brought across to people, they all say I’ll fight this guy and then they look at the losses and they are like nope. There’s a lot to lose considering that I’ve lost three fights. Never been knocked out, never been submitted. That’s in 12 years of competition, even amateur I was undefeated. I’m a season veteran even though I just turned 30. I’ve been around the world, fought the top names, at 155 and 145. I was looking at the sheet yesterday, I’m on of the most experienced on there, top 2, top 3 experienced fighters. So, ACB, Bellator, UFC and now PFL.”
Loughnane actually tried to fight Palmer this year when Palmer’s original opponent Daniel Pineda tested positive for a banned substance after his last fight, but the fight went to the alternate, Alex Gilpin.
“I nearly slid in on that fight, I tried my best when Pineda popped. Called my manager and was like “get me this fight please!” I was very close to getting it, but Gilpin got it. Obviously I didn’t deserve it but I was screaming for it.”
But he will remain focused on getting those fights so he can continue to prove his worth and get rid of old stigma’s such as the British can’t wrestle.
“The thing that is attached to me is that the British can’t wrestle. I want to see these guys wrestle me. The whole reason I’m not in the UFC is cause I wrestled and I can wrestle, so let’s not go there. I’d like to see these guys try to wrestle me, I’m ready wrestle any of them. I grew up in wrestling, I grew up luckily at a young age I found some Iranian friends, ended up with them and been wrestling with them for ten years. I got myself to a really high level and won the British a few years ago. And that’s the stigma that’s attached to us. Bisping was the only one who really kinda started stopping the takedowns and now Brendan is stopping the takedowns. Like I said, this place is absolutely littered with wrestlers and because I don’t have the collegiate background and haven’t fought these wrestlers in America yet, I’m ready to do it.”
Not only has Brendan Loughnane wrestled alongside his Iranian friends, but also his elite teammates at Alliance MMA. After five years of training there, Loughnane has proved his worth daily against the likes of Jeremy Stephens and Darion Caldwell. He has even built a strong relationship with former UFC champion Dominick Cruz who has become not only a mentor but a good friend…as long as he cleans his dishes (the two are roommates).
“The biggest thing I’ve learned from Dominick is wash your dishes or get your ass kicked,” joked Loughnane.
“The way he is about MMA on commentary that’s how he is in day to day life on everything. So he is just a good guy not just in MMA but in general. I’d say we’ve built a great friendship, we’ve been to Thailand, been to a few places together, he’s a good guy. He’s taken time and money to fly to New York on New Year’s Eve to corner me, nothing but love and respect.”
However, Loughnane isn’t looking at Valente with much love as he looks to end the year with a finish. Though tapology has Loughnane with eight career finishes, finishes have eluded him in his past two fights. But now that he is signed long term and his earning potential isn’t based on finishing bonuses or building hype, he believes he can start fighting freely and the finishes will present themselves.
“I was mad at myself and I shouldn’t have been for not finishing the last guy, I was pissed. I’ve lost that in this camp, I’ve lost that stigma. Cause that’s when the finishes don’t come, when you’re over looking for them. I’m going back to being Brendan, the finish will present itself and that’s exactly how I’m looking at this fight.”
“They want fireworks in the garden and that’s what they’ll get it.”
Brendan Loughnane will fight David Valente on New Year’s Eve at Madison Square Garden. The fights will air on ESPN 2 at 7 PM EST.