Like most fans of high action fights, Brandon Royval is excited to test his skills against a man many believe is the top contender at 125 pounds.
Royval looks to continue his impressive rookie campaign when he meets Brandon Moreno this Saturday at UFC 255. The flyweight matchup headlined the preliminary card which will air on ESPN2, and stream on ESPN+.
“Raw Dawg,” a former LFA flyweight champion, has finished his last four fights—including submission victories in his first two octagon appearances over Tim Elliott and Kai Kara-France.
After his “Fight of the Night” win over Kara-France at UFC 253 in September, it didn’t take long for him to find out his next move after the originally scheduled headliner for the flyweight title between Deiveson Figueiredo and Cody Garbrandt (who suffered a torn bicep) was in jeopardy.
“(I found out) the day after the Kai Kara-France fight,” Royval told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “We were on the beach and I had caught wind about what was going on with Cody Garbrandt and that Perez got the title shot. I turned to my manager Jason House and I was like, ‘Yo, can you put my name in for the Brandon Moreno fight?’ That’s kind of how it happened and I pretty much knew right off the bat that it was a go.
“I was a little anxious (when it was official) because I was stuck on Fight Island and then you go from being there, partying a little bit, I was eating a sh*t ton and I wasn’t with my team. I just had that anxiety of an immediate fight and the best way to get rid of that is to train and get going. I’m in shape and I’ve been back with my team. We’re good now.”
Currently, Royval is ranked No. 6 in the UFC’s flyweight rankings as he prepares to face the No. 2-ranked Moreno, who is unbeaten in his last four. While many believe that the winner of this matchup will be in a prime position to fight for the title, Royval isn’t looking at it like that.
“I don’t really have that on the forefront of my mind,” Royval said. “I don’t think that’s necessarily the route for me. If Moreno beats me, his next fight is a title shot. I don’t necessarily believe that mine is because I’m really new to the UFC and I’m jumping on these opportunities, people pulling out of fights and people not wanting to take fights during the quarantine.
“I’ve been able to capitalize on this stuff but I don’t want to get it in my mind and put pressure on myself. What gets me out of bed anyways is just fighting Brandon Moreno. He’s a stud, he’s such a gamer and a dangerous opponent. That’s on my mind right now, not a title shot.”
After a short stint outside of the UFC, Moreno returned in September 2019 and fought Askar Askarov to a draw—a fight 12 out of 13 media members on MMA Decisions scored for Moreno. “The Assassin Baby” went on to pick up impressive unanimous decision wins over Kara-France and Jussier Formiga to put him in title contention.
In terms of the stylistic matchup, Royval understands that Moreno brings something different to the table that could pose some threats.
“When I fight a wrestler, I don’t give a sh*t what’s gonna happen. I’m either gonna f*ck this dude up bad, or I’m gonna get wrestled for 15 minutes. It doesn’t matter. When you’re fighting somebody that’s gonna drop you and knock your head off, perspective changes,” Royval explained.
“You’re like, ‘I can’t get away with that with this mother f*cker.’ If I don’t keep my chin tucked, there’s consequences to it. It’s funny the different thought process I have heading into this fight because he’s gonna try and finish me every second, and same goes for me.”
It seemed that the matchup between Moreno and Royval would be a perfect main card appetizer for the two 125-pound title fights—Figueiredo vs. Perez, and Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jennifer Maia—but with the addition of Cynthia Calvillo taking on Katlyn Chookagian, it is now on the prelims.
While some fighters might be upset about that, Royval couldn’t be more happy with the result. In fact, the Factory X standout believes fight fans could save themselves some money by watching the prelims and getting, what he feels, is the true main event of the evening.
“Honestly, I could not care any less,” Royval stated about being on the prelims. “I think this is better. One, I think I’m gonna go steal the f*ckin show for the flyweights. Me and Brandon Moreno are the flyweight fight to watch. I don’t give a sh*t who is main eventing. I like Alex Perez a lot and I think he’s exciting, or whatever, but f*ck that. The girl flyweight fights, they’re awesome, but me and Moreno is the fight to watch.
“We’re not gonna get eyes on that PPV fight. Nobody’s gonna buy that PPV. F*ck being on that PPV, I’d rather be on the prelim main event. Me and Brandon Moreno are the main event. There’s gonna be more eyes on this fight than the PPV so I don’t give a sh*t.
“I think [the fans] should tune into my fight and then do whatever the f*ck they want. Now I’m gonna get fired from the UFC (laughs). But that PPV and see who I’m gonna fight next.”
While he doesn’t believe a title shot could be in his future with a win, Royval is ready to go out there and give Moreno a rough night at the office this Saturday night in Las Vegas.
“I think it’s the difference of MMA IQ that’s gonna win me this fight,” Royval said. “It’s gonna be tactician vs. brawler and I think if it does go to a bit of a brawl, I’m gonna beat the sh*t out of him there, too. I’m longer and have the faster hands and, I don’t know, I think it plays right into my hands no matter where it goes.
“I’m stoked about it. I think I have him beat jiu-jitsu wise, and striking wise. I think he’s stronger than me and is a better wrestler, but I don’t give a sh*t about any of that.”