After Brendan Loughnane agonizingly missed out on a place in the 2021 PFL featherweight final, he made himself a promise. Now he’s one win away from making good on his word.
“I come from a real gritty place in Manchester where it’s fighting – real fighting,” he said.
“I left with a goal, though. I left the United Kingdom with a goal, and said I’m gonna come back a world champion and a millionaire. I’m not going back until that happens.
“I got on a plane, went to Thailand, and I’ve been out there for two and a half months.”
Loughnane enjoyed a strong debut season for the Professional Fighters League last year, but lost out via split decision to eventual featherweight champion Movlid Khaybulaev in the 2021 playoffs.
The Mancunian vowed to atone for that semi-final defeat and headed east to Thailand to immerse himself in an intense training camp to sharpen his full MMA arsenal ahead of his 2022 run.
“I went to Thailand for training partners and world-class sparring, that’s where I’ve just come from now. It’s a bit hotter than here, but we don’t complain,” he said.
“My coach was like, ‘Listen, Brendan. Go away, do 90 percent wrestling. We need to get you strong, because these guys are just going to wrestle the life out of you.’ So that’s what I did.
“Every corner of martial arts in the world has got a corner at Tiger Muay Thai. We all get together, we exchange ideas on martial arts and I feel like that’s made me grow massively being around all the different styles so much.”
After a steady start to his 2022 regular season campaign, Loughnane hit form heading into the playoffs.
His unanimous decision victory over last season’s runner-up Chris Wade in the 2022 semi-finals was arguably his best performance inside the PFL SmartCage, as he comprehensively outstruck the American, while also shutting down Wade’s bread and butter, his wrestling.
It means that Loughnane is in top form heading into his featherweight final clash with American Bubba Jenkins, a former junior world champion wrestler, and NCAA Division I champion who transferred his skills to the cage and captured the Brave CF featherweight title in 2018.
Both Loughnane and Jenkins were blessed with the gift of the gab, and the pair have enjoyed a respectful, if at times feisty, rivalry, with both men seemingly enjoying having a verbal sparring partner ahead of their $1 million matchup.
“I love going back and forth with Bubba,” Loughnane admitted.
“I love getting into banter, as they call it in the UK. It’s two guys, one from America, one from the UK and they don’t mind talking, don’t mind saying what they’re going to do in the cage.”
Like Loughnane, Jenkins also lost out in the semi-finals in 2021, meaning the stakes, and motivations, heading into the bout are similar for both men.
But Loughnane is adamant that his time is now, and that he will prevail over Jenkins and become only the third English fighter to capture a major MMA world title.
“My main goal was to be the first born and bred Mancunian MMA world champion,” he said.
“Bringing that belt home and sitting in Manchester will mean much more than everything.
“This is mine. This is mine to lose. PFL champ, 2022. Let’s go! You’re gonna have to throw bricks at me, bro.
“I’m here to win this whole thing. It’s gonna take more than an eye, a hand, an arm, anything, I’m here. He is going to have to kill me in there. It is get rich or die trying.”
The 2022 PFL World Championship takes place at the Hulu Theater, Madison Square Garden, New York on Friday, November 25, live on ESPN+ pay-per-view.