UK MMA fans got a new fighter to support on Wednesday night as 22-year-old lightweight Brendan Loughnane made his first appearance on the TUF Smashes series. Loughnane (record) replaced injured Team UK fighter Michael Pastou, who sustained a torn bicep in the opening episode of the series.
“I couldn’t believe it when I got the call up,” says Loughnane (an Irish surname pronounced ‘loff-nane’). “I had been put on the reserve list and the UFC told me to be ready on standby so I was still training twice a day and staying in peak condition, but it was still a surprise to get the call telling me to get on a plane to Australia.
Loughnane was relaxing after a training session when he received a phone call telling him that Pastou was injured and that he was wanted as a replacement. In 48 hours he was on the other side of the world shaking hands with his new teammates and taking his place in the Team UK line-up.
Naturally he is prohibited from revealing any details regarding his participation in the season, which is currently airing on FX in Australia and on ESPN UK in the United Kingdom. But he does reveal that he was happy with his performances in the show and he thinks the fans will find it to be one of the more entertaining TUF seasons.
“There are some great fights on this season, some absolute wars. Ross Pearson was a really good coach and we had a great team spirit. He really doesn’t like George Sotiropoulos one bit - and I don’t think many of the Australian team did either,” he says.
“Things got very, very heated between members of the two sides on more than one occasion. And you know what Brits and Aussies are like - its not all posing and jumping around, they don’t do that. Thirty seconds after exchanging words you’re going to be rolling round on the floor with someone. I can’t give too much away but if you watch the season you are going to see people from both sides genuinely losing their tempers with each other. Which is exactly what you want to see, really.”
Loughnane fights out of the SBG Mainline team in central Manchester, north-west England and trains under head coach and BJJ black belt Karl Tanswell. This week he will travel to Nottingham for the UFC on FUEL 5 event to cheer on Gunnar Nelson in his UFC debut.
Nelson hails from Iceland and his gym Mjolnir - named after Thor’s hammer - is part of the international SBG network. Nelson has spent time on the Manchester mats with Tanswell and over at SBG Dublin with John Kavanagh and the two coaches will form his corner team for this weekend’s fight against DaMarques Johnson.
“Brendan is a great lad and a talented fighter. We were delighted when he got called up as a reserve for The Smashes. He’s a real character and he likes to put a show on, so I’m sure he will have some memorable moments in the season. He’s certainly not someone you forget easily if you’re stuck in a house with him for a day, let alone six weeks,” says Tanswell.
“He will be coming to Nottingham with us this week to support Gunni, who is a huge talent and really deserves this UFC call-up. He is very well known in the jiu-jitsu world, especially after beating Jeff Monson in ADCC, and he has a very bright future. Myself and John Kavanagh are excited to be cornering him in such a landmark moment for his career.”