Brandon Royval says UFC Mexico rematch vs. Brandon Moreno needed to ‘get me back out of my funk’

MEXICO CITY – Brandon Royval appreciates the opportunity in front of him, as a win in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 237 main event would shift his career into a more positive light.

After getting dominated by flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja in their UFC 296 title fight in December, Royval (15-7 MMA, 5-3 UFC) admits he was dealing with a bit of a post-loss hangover. He felt somewhat directionless, but then the phone rang, and he was offered the position of a backup for Saturday’s headliner, which was originally set as Brandon Moreno vs. Amir Albazi.

“I’m sitting at home, this is three weeks after the Pantoja fight, maybe four weeks after the Pantoja fight,” Royval told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 237 media day. “The holidays happened. I’m a little fat. I get a call and they’re like, ‘Do you want to be the backup fighter?’ I’m like, ‘There’s no way somebody is going to pull out oft that fight. Free vacation to Mexico City? For sure I want that.’ I took the fight.”

Less than one day passed before Royval’s phone rang again, and next thing he knew, he was in against Moreno (21-7-2 MMA, 9-3-2 UFC) in a rematch of their November 2020 fight from UFC 255, which Moreno won by first-round TKO.

“Within 18 hours later, I got another call and they’re like, ‘All right, you’re in. You’re fighting Moreno in Mexico City,'” Royval said. “I was like, ‘Oh sh*t, cool.’ … I’m really glad they gave me this fight. I’m glad I got this opportunity, because I definitely needed this. I definitely needed something to motivate me to get the sour taste out of my mouth and get me back out of my funk.”

Royval, 31, said there was “so much to take away” from his loss to Pantoja that he already feels he’s implemented into his preparation. It’s not tough to get motivated for this one, either, because Royval thinks the way in which his first fight ended against Moreno was unjust.

A dislocated shoulder in the first round of the bout compromised Royval and made it difficult to defend himself, which allowed Moreno to capitalize and get the fight into a position to pound away for a TKO. It didn’t feel like a true fight or loss, Royval said, but it still exists on his record.

It’s a chance to show his growth, though, and Royval wants to deliver a clean performance this time.

“I just want to show the world what I can do, and I feel like I’ve yet to do that,” Moreno said. “That Pantoja fight, I’m like, ‘This is it. This time I’m going to show the world what I can actually do and my actual skillset.’ It just did not happen. I feel like this is another great opportunity against a fighter who is going to bring it at all costs.”

The stakes of this main event are largely unclear. Reigning champ Pantoja (27-5 MMA, 11-3 UFC) has said he wants to schedule his next title defense for UFC 301 on May 4 in Rio de Janeiro, but there is no perfectly logical challenger.

Royval is of the belief that the UFC brass will try to push Moreno into another title shot with a win. But if that’s not the case, he can’t speak so confidently about himself.

“I’m actually not sure what happens with me,” Royval said. “I’m pretty sure Brandon Moreno, if he wins, even though we both lost to the same person in our last loss, I’m pretty sure he’s getting a title shot. I’m not sure that’s the same position for me. I know if I go out there and style on him and I go out there and do some cool things, it’s going to be hard to be denied.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 237.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie