Loughnane faced Wade in a grudge match bout at PFL Playoffs 2, to earn a spot in the 2022 PFL Finals. Despite being the underdog, the English fighter was able to control much of the action, claiming the finals berth with a unanimous decision victory. The win was the biggest of Loughnane’s career and according to him, the biggest moment of his life thus far.
“I put it as the best weekend of my whole life, nevermind career,” Loughnane told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “Just because like you were saying, I had so much doubt coming in. I’ve got Chris Wade, who has been knocking everyone out, stopping everyone, 5-2 in the UFC. Don’t get me wrong, when he’s listing off his accolades, I’m like, ‘S***. This guy’s legit. He’s for real. If that Brendan Loughnane shows up that showed up in the first two fights, I’m going to get embarrassed in front of my home town, my mom there, all my people that are close to me.’ So the pressure was so insane on me, and I’m just glad I came through the way I did.”
Loughnane believes he was able to come perform as well as he did, in part, because he worked with a mind coach during his preparation.
“I actually saw a mind coach for this fight, and the mind coach literally said to me, ‘Brendan, you’re going to walk in that cage that night, you’re going to feel it, you’re going to own it, the guy’s going to be slow, you’re going to be fast,’” Loughnane said. “He walked me through exactly how I would feel in there and I actually felt that in there. So shout out to Vinny Shoreman.
“I saw him five years ago, and then obviously in this camp I was looking for any kind of anything. So I was seeing different people, I went back with my old coaches and I messaged Vinny on the off-chance like, ‘Hey, can we do something again?’ And he was like, ‘Sure, I’ve been waiting to work with you again.’ Listen, I’m not just solely putting it down to that, because I worked my ass off in the camp, but after, I spoke to my coach and he said, ‘I really do think that had a massive effect on the way you performed tonight.’ So shoutout to Vinny and I’ll be back seeing him soon.”
Though he had seen Shoreman before, Loughnane said he normally wouldn’t have looked into something like a mind coach before, however, the English fighter admits that during the lead up to the fight, he was starting to have doubts that he wanted to address.
“I was overthinking everything, especially the face-to-faces. The stuff that Chris was saying was right! ‘You’ve been s*** in your first two fights, all this hype, it’s not even real, you’re not even that good.’ It was all creeping in one ear, and although it goes out the other, some of it stays in there, I’m going to be real. Then I was looking at the comments, I was a 3-1 underdog, everyone was like, ‘Chris Wade’s going to walk through Brendan Loughnane,’ and all that s*** is creeping in my ear. Like, f***, maybe everybody’s right. It had an effect on me, but it motivated me if anything, clearly.”
In recent years, more top fighters have begun seeing mind coaches or sports psychologists to help them during their fight preparation. Georges St-Pierre famously started seeing a sports psychologist after his loss to Matt Serra and Paul Craig recently discussed how seeing a sports psychologist led to a career resurgence. Loughnane only saw Shoreman once before fighting Wade, but during that session, he got hypnotized, which seems to have had a major effect on him.
“As a fighter you just look for any edge,” Loughnane said. “I’ve never really been into mind coaches and things like that, but I just thought with this Chris Wade fight, he’s that good that I’m going to take any advantage that I can. I brought in great sparring partners and I thought, let me just give Vinny a message. And he was so welcoming. He said, ‘Come down to my office tomorrow,’ and he hypnotized me! Seriously.
“I know many fighters have used him, and when I went down and did it, even when they’re talking to you and he said, ‘You’re going to own the moment, the guy’s going to be slow, you’re going to be fast,’ and that’s exactly how I felt in there. It was crazy.
“[It was a] wild experience. It was my second time, and literally, you’ll put your two hands in front of you [holds up his index fingers two inches apart] and he’ll go, ‘Imagine there are two magnets on your hands now,’ and I don’t really want to start [touching my fingers] because I don’t want to bulls*** you, but literally I was looking at my fingers and I couldn’t stop them going together. Like, what is happening?!”
Whatever did happen, the results for Loughnane are undeniable. After losing to Movlid Khaybulaev in the featherweight semifinals in 2021, Loughnane now finds himself one win away from the 145-pound championship and $1 million. He will face Bubba Jenkins in the featherweight finals at the PFL Championships on Nov. 25.