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Brendan Loughnane on six-year road back to UFC: ‘It’s been a long time coming’

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European MMA fans breathed a sigh of relief when Brendan’s Loughnane’s upcoming bout with Bill Algeo was confirmed for the season premiere of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series on June 16 during Saturday’s UFC 237 broadcast.

For years, fans and media alike have been shouting from the hilltops about Loughnane’s skill set. The Mancunian has been at the top of the list in terms of unsigned MMA talent since his sole trip to the Octagon in 2012, where a decision loss to countryman Mike Wilkinson ruled him out of the running for a UFC contract following his time on TUF: Smashes.

The All Powers fighter will become the first Englishman to compete on DWTNCS when he faces Algeo next month. Despite some opportunities to compete with other organizations falling by the wayside ahead of his call-up, Loughnane is elated at the fact he will get a chance to directly compete for a UFC contract.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Loughnane told told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.

“There have been a few opportunities missed with the PFL. I was going to jump in on short notice and give up 20 or 30 pounds, but I stuck by my guns and waited for the right opportunity to present itself in the end. I’m just glad that I did wait. I’ve got an opportunity at my own weight, with my own camp and that’s all I really needed. The rest will be history.”

After his 2012 loss to Wilkinson, Loughnane put together a five-fight win streak. He was promised a UFC contract if he got passed Tom Duquesnoy at BAMMA 22 in 2015, but a split decision loss that is debated to this day cost him the opportunity. Again, he pushed on to compile a four-fight win streak before he moved up to lightweight to suffer another split decision defeat to Pat Healy.

Loughnane has claimed another two stoppage wins since returning to his usual featherweight stomping ground, but admitted that he struggled to to find the motivation to stay the course with his career at times.

“To be honest, there was one time [I considered retiring] and that was after the Duquesnoy fight because I knew there was a [UFC] contract waiting for me if I won that fight. That one did my head in because I did enough to win that fight, I was like, ‘Wow, I’ve been robbed here, I’m going to have to start again’. Then I got all the way to Healy and I had to start again. It was Mike [Wilkinson], it was Tom [Duquesnoy] and it was [Pat] Healy, it was the same story—getting to the top of the hill and starting again,” he said.

“Honestly, it was getting so old that I thought, ‘F*ck, this is my last run now.’”

There are many who feel as though Loughnane should not have to take the DWTNCS route to the UFC, but Loughnane sees it as an opportunity rather than a hinderance after a conversation with close friend and training partner, Dominick Cruz.

“I could’ve probably waited out for another opportunity on a prelim, but me and Dom sat down and talked about it,” he explained. “He said, ‘Look Brendan, this show gets aired and watched by a lot of people. It’s a big show, you’ve already got your U.K. audience; this is a big show in America and it’s a good chance to build your audience straightaway.’

“Everyone believes in me, it’s not going to matter who they put in front of me until we start looking at top 15 guys really. This guy, Bill Algeo, I feel like I can just go through these guys, so I don’t even feel like I’m fighting for a contract; I feel like I’ve got the contract already and I haven’t even had my first fight.”

Given the retirements of U.K. UFC mainstays Michael Bisping and Ross Pearson, Loughnane is confident he can become the face of U.K. MMA if he delivers with a spectacular performance in Las Vegas.

“If I feel like I can be the next poster boy for the UK when I get in there,” Loughnane said.

“I want to go in and make a spectacle against [Algeo] and move on from there. I’ll build my American audience, I’ll have Dominick Cruz in my corner…I think the stars have just aligned for me on this one. With Michael Bisping and Ross Pearson retiring, the U.K. market is opening up. I really feel like now is my time,” he added.

Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Brendan Loughnane interview begins at 1:15:30.