Brendan Loughnane just can’t catch his break

Tuesday night was another opportunity for Brendan Loughnane to prove to the UFC that he is the world-class calibre combatant they seek to employ – a claim that was backed up righteously in a unanimous decision victory over the 12-3 featherweight Bill Algeo. Somehow, some way, after a stormer of a bout between the two, Loughnane was overlooked as the latest recipient of a UFC contract.

In a brief statement, president Dana White mentioned that a takedown in the final ten seconds of a fight, rather than choosing to brawl, isn’t really what the UFC are after on such an opportunistic evening, while stating he does feel he’ll see Brendan in the Octagon at some point in the future.

The thing is, though, that should be next. Brendan has proven time and again which lights he deserves to compete under. After another blazing fight and tremendous victory for the Mancunian, it’s another setback that really feels unfair. Then again, the career of Loughnane has never been direct.

Back when he was the youngster on The Ultimate Fighter’s ‘The Smashes’ series, he came up short in the finale – in another barnburner, might I add – in which he arguably won. Again, Loughnane took it on the chin and kept improving. Only twenty two years of age, time was in his favour.

In 2017, Loughnane took on his biggest challenge yet at ACB 65 in the tough UFC veteran Pat Healy – a fight in which, should Brendan win, he should definitely be on the UFC’s radar. This time around, the story was the same. Despite taking on the challenge against the larger adversary in a bout where an overwhelming amount of viewers expected the nod to go to Brendan, Healy was given the decision.

Probably the most infamous and most controversial moment of Brendan’s career came after his BAMMA world featherweight title scrap with reigning highlight reel champion Tom Duquesnoy. In fear of repetition, what happened in the outcome of his bout with Pat Healy was echoed in this title clash.

You could go on and on with the amount of times Brendan has received setbacks, stayed quiet and continued to work – but how much longer can he be denied? If a takedown towards the end of the fight, which if anything would only solidify his superiority further, is what costs the 17-3 English battler his next chapter, then there has to be more to this than what meets the eye because, simply put, that’s not a valid excuse in MMA in 2019.

The period of ‘just bleed’ fans is one that has faded as quickly as the sport has evolved, but it isn’t an outlook that you need from the president of the company. It goes without saying, but MMA is more than just a punching and kicking sport and you’d expect the frontrunner of global mixed martial arts to recognise this. When 2-0 former NFL players are smashing tomato cans and former professional wrestlers without as much as an amateur contest under their belt are signing on the dotted line, what argument can you have against Loughnane, his exciting style and resume? Is Dana’s ability to sought out exciting potential superstars over negative cross-sport athletes fading?

Sure, if you’re on the Contender Series, a finish is arguably the necessity. Everybody wants the finish, especially the UFC in order to market you as one to watch, but it can’t and won’t always go that way.  

In this day and age, gone are the times where a British fighter entering the UFC will be a one trick pony with pour all-round skills. Brendan’s notion that he should be the new British fighter the UFC want holds a lot of value to it. We’re seeing more and more UK fighters climb in to the top ten such as Darren Till and Leon Edwards, establishing themselves are threats to their division. New faces should be brought in just as well as that fan base continues to grow.

It’s worth noting from Irish journalist Niall McGrath who asked Brendan if their was any issues with UFC brass, in which he answered “No, I just hope they don’t remember me as the little boy who used to be in there.” Maybe they do still have that view. When you see the package played before his bout, today’s Loughnane is better in every dynamic than the display seen in 2012.

As a fellow Mancunian myself, I’ve seen Brendan fight in the UK for ten years now, long before an amateur path was even established and in recent years there hasn’t been another battler out there deserving of the success awaiting them – unless, y’know, something silly like a takedown prevents it.

Regardless, Brendan’s stock goes up. Fighting is a young man’s game and at twenty-nine years old, time is more valuable than ever for Loughnane’s fighting future and whatever may come, I don’t know what more you could ask of Brendan at this point.