After winning the featherweight championship and $1 million prize in 2022, Loughnane (26-4) kept his momentum going in the main event at The Theatre at Virgin Hotels with a second-round TKO of former UFC title challenger Marlon Moraes (23-12-1).
With his winning streak now at five fights, Loughnane wants recognition alongside the top names at his weight – regardless of promotion.
“I’m on a roll,” Loughnane told MMA Junkie and other reporters post-fight at 2023 PFL 1. “It’s hard to doubt me. Put me in the conversation for the best ’45ers on the planet right now. How could you not? I know Marlon’s been on a bit of a skid, but look at the precise work that I put in.”
Loughnane’s work against Marlon was indeed nearly flawless. He used a kick-heavy assault to damage the legs of his Brazilian foe, badly compromising Moraes toward the of the opening round. In the second frame, Loughnane went right back to the legs, and it wasn’t long before Moraes collapsed to the canvas and the bout was waved off.
Brendan Loughnane def. Marlon Moraes at 2023 PFL 1: Best photos
“That’s the game plan for every fight,” Loughnane said. “Good luck defending them. Anyone can get them kicks. … I’m going to keep using them. Learn how to stop them. They were bad. They were really bad. They were exceptionally bad ones, and fair play to Marlon for coming out and giving it a go in the second (round).”
Loughnane was one of the few bright spots at an event that was loaded with decisions and dull bouts. He was the only fighter in the 145-pound division to finish his opponent, which gives him the top spot in the standings.
When surveying his upcoming competition as he pushes for back-to-back season wins, Loughnane said he wasn’t impressed.
“They bored the life out of me,” Loughnane said. “They really did. I’m not even havinf a dig at anyone – well I’m having a dig at everyone. It was boring, man. … I swear, I was falling asleep in the back.”
There is one name in the division who is firmly on Loughnane’s radar, though. The Brit’s only loss in nearly six years came against Movlid Khaybulaev in August 2021, and the split decision result is one Loughnane is keen to avenge.
Loughnane was not excited by Khaybulaev’s (20-0-1) unanimous decision win over Ryoji Kudo on the main card of Saturday’s event, and he said the rematch – whenever it happens – will be different.
“I’m coming for Movlid,” Loughnane said. “Call it a callout. Call it what you want. Me and him are the best two guys in this. I’m on a roll. His performances, it’s the same thing. Who would you rather watch, win, lose or draw? Let’s be honest.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for 2023 PFL 1.