Saturday’s UFC Struggle Evening card from UFC Apex in Las Vegas is headlined by middleweights Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum. And that struggle is okay because the nominal primary occasion.
However the “folks’s primary occasion” — the one numerous the hardcore MMA followers simply know goes to be hearth within the octagon — is a flyweight showdown with potential title implications between Brandon Royval and Alexandre Pantoja.
Royval (12-5, 11 finishes) couldn’t agree extra, and he’s feeling slighted that his bout isn’t even the co-headliner of the night, as a substitute slotted early within the six-bout primary card.
“I truthfully really feel a bit bit disrespected by all of it,” Royval lately instructed The Submit, “as a result of I believe we ought to be the co-main occasion of the [night] on the very least.”
Utilizing the UFC’s promotional contender rankings to again it up — he’s ranked No. 6, three slots behind Pantoja (23-5, 16 finishes) — Royval is aware of the winner of the bout may very well be subsequent in line to face champion Brandon Moreno.
Royval isn’t involved about the results of his most up-to-date outing holding him again, regardless of it being a TKO loss to Moreno final November in one of many wildest one-round fights of 2020. It was throughout that struggle that Royval suffered a torn labrum that got here with what he known as “a bunch of chipped bones,” dislocating the shoulder throughout the windup of a punch, much like a baseball pitcher happening with the identical damage.
That saved the sometimes energetic Royval on the shelf longer than normal. The Pantoja struggle is simply concerning the earliest he may have come again after shoulder surgical procedure. And Moreno has talked about in media appearances that the winner of Saturday’s struggle may very well be his first title challenger, which is on no account misplaced on Royval.
“I believe he is aware of the importance of this struggle is I’m preventing No. 3 on the planet, [who] holds two wins over the present champion,” Royval says of Moreno, who was submitted in 2016 by Pantoja on “The Final Fighter” and later misplaced a call within the 2018 rematch. “I believe he is aware of, one, the hazard of Pantoja, clearly. He’s been unsuccessful preventing him twice. After which additionally, if I am going on the market and run a quantity on Pantoja, that undoubtedly, for my part, offers me the title shot.”
If it seems like Royval is in a rush to succeed in the highest, particularly since he solely made his UFC debut 15 months in the past, that’s simply the way in which he rolls. Within the cage, he’s a quick and livid flyweight who received 4 consecutive fights between 2019 and 2020 through submission. 4 of his 12 profession victories have come inside a minute.
Plus, Royval doesn’t count on he’ll be competing within the sport a complete lot longer. It’s not essentially age; he turned 29 earlier this month. However the miles MMA has placed on his physique already are carrying on him.
“I wish to get the belt. I wish to show I’m the very best flyweight on the time period that I’m right here,” Royval says. “However I put rather a lot into this sport. I like this sport, and it’s like, this sport’s executed a quantity on my physique. … I wish to see my teammates succeed. I’ve a bunch of flyweights up-and-coming that I work with. I need them to take over. I need that subsequent era to succeed.”