England’s Brendan Loughnane produced the performance of his career to finish Bubba Jenkins and capture the 2022 PFL featherweight world championship after a thrilling scrap in New York.
Loughnane showcased his full arsenal of strikes while demonstrating flawless takedown defense as he stuffed each and every one of former NCAA Division I champion Jenkins’ takedown attempts throughout the matchup, before finishing him with a barrage of strikes to claim the 145-pound title and the $1 million prize at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden.
An action-packed first round saw Jenkins try on multiple occasions to take Loughnane to the mat without success while, in the stand-up exchanges, Loughnane hammered the American’s lead leg with a succession of powerful low kicks that were clearly affecting Jenkins by the end of the round. In boxing range, both men found a home for their shots, but neither looked in any trouble in the opening five minutes.
Loughnane sustained a cut on his nose in the early stages of Round 2, but started to put his shots together, mixing up snapping punches with leg kicks, while Jenkins tried to load up in search of a one-shot KO. Loughnane settled into his groove and outstruck Jenkins throughout the round until a body kick strayed low to give “The Bad Man” some respite at the end of the round.
Jenkins came out swinging at the start of the third round and started to find his range with his hands. But Loughnane continued to punish the American with leg kicks, while scoring with sharp punches of his own. Another takedown attempt from Jenkins was stuffed by the Brit, who then responded on the feet with sharp combinations and yet more leg kicks.
By the final minute of the round, Jenkins was starting to slow, and Loughnane unloaded a vicious salvo of punches and knees on the former Brave CF champion, who was forced to cover up against the fence as the Brit let fly with his best work of the fight.
Jenkins loaded up again at the start of Round 4 before shooting in deep for a takedown. But, once again, Loughnane was able to stuff the attempt and keep the fight on the feet. The Englishman started to put his shots together beautifully, mixing punches with low kicks to keep Jenkins off balance. Then, mid-way through the round, Loughnane hit the jackpot.
A ramrod straight right badly hurt Jenkins, who staggered backward and fell to the mat. Loughnane immediately closed in and unloaded a barrage of ground strikes to force the finish and spark wild scenes of celebration, both in the cage and in the stands, where a boisterous contingent of English fans were in attendance.
Loughnane’s victory meant that he became only the fourth British fighter to capture a major global MMA world title, following in the footsteps of Liam McGeary, Michael Bisping and Leon Edwards to join an elite group of British MMA world champions.