Brendan Loughnane relishes challenge of fighting Marlon Moraes to open season at 2023 PFL 1
Given that reigning PFL featherweight champion Brendan Loughnane is looking for “name value” fights, the start to his 2023 season can’t be more appealing than having to face Marlon Moraes.
Is he surprised to draw the former UFC title challenger right off the bat?
“Not really, no,” Loughnane told MMA Junkie Radio. “They’re probably paying him a lot of money. They want to get the value out of Marlon, too, right?”
Loughnane (26-4) and Moraes (23-11-1) meet in Saturday’s ESPN-televised PFL 1 headliner at The Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas. Moraes announced his retirement last April on the heels of a four-fight losing streak, but then he unretired less than six months later to sign with the PFL.
Moraes was one of a few splash signings late last year, and he made his promotional debut in November at the PFL Championships event where he suffered a third-round TKO to Sheymon Moraes to push his losing streak to five after a fight that Marlon was winning until the finish.
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Even though it’s been a rough stretch for Moraes since 2020, Loughnane recognizes that he’s still a fighter who holds wins over current UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling (first-round knockout) and former UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo (split decision). Loughnane sees him as a challenge and appreciates the matchup as opposed to someone who otherwise might be considered a no-name.
“Imagine you get this guy and then everybody in the U.K. tuning in, and they’re like, ‘Oh, who’s this guy?’ Nobody knows. But then they go, ‘Oh, Marlon?’ Loughnane said. “Everyone knows he’s the guy that knocked out Sterling. He’s the guy that beat Aldo not too long ago. He’s been on a bit of a skid, but he was beating Sheymon comfortably. …
“Everyone’s gonna tune in to watch Brendan and Marlon, two strikers going at it. You’ve got the aggressive guy, you’ve got the thinker, you’ve got the ’45er, you’ve got the ’35er that’s coming up and not depleting himself anymore. This is one that the fan’s win on.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for 2023 PFL 1.