In 2019, Brendan Loughnane looked rightfully flabbergasted when UFC president Dana White decided he was unworthy of a UFC contract. On Friday, November 25, Loughnane captured the PFL MMA (Professional Fighter’s League) featherweight title and claimed $1 million in prize money in the process.
Loughnane, who had a cup of coffee with the UFC in 2012—losing a decision to Mike Wilkinson in his one fight with the promotion—went 11-2 over the next five years. During that time, he lost split decisions to Tom Duquesnoy and Pat Healy while avenging his loss to Wilkinson via knockout in 2017. In 2019, he and Bill Algeo had a spirited bout on a DWCS (Dana White Contender Series) card that saw Loughnane win a clear 30-27 decision. Despite landing 63 percent of his significant strikes and chewing up Algeo’s legs with heavy kicks, White did not offer Loughnane a deal. Loughnane’s sin? He shot for a takedown late in the fight.
“Great fight,” White said of the Loughnane vs. Algeo fight. “Both durable, tough guys banging it out. I have to give Brendan credit—he fought a guy who’s been a champion in two different (promotions). But, let me tell you what you don’t do: you don’t come here, you don’t fight that type of fight, and you don’t go for the double leg with 10 seconds left in the fight.”
In the aftermath of missing out on a UFC contract, a nonplussed Loughnane told Bloody Elbow, “There has to be more to the story. Come on. There has to be more to it than just that takedown. There has to be.
“Seeing how the other guy who fought on the card took a guy down for three rounds and then got a contract, it was like, ‘Wow, I took a 10-second takedown and didn’t get one, but you signed a guy that took one for three rounds.’ It’s a bit crazy, a bit of a contradiction.”
White, perhaps stinging a bit from the criticism he heard about his reasoning for passing on Loughnane, stood his ground. “If I’m wrong, he’s a free agent,” White told ESPN. “Somebody else can pick him up, and according to the people who are complaining about it, it must be a big score. So, go for it.”
A month after he defeated Algeo at the UFC Apex, the Manchester-based talent signed with the PFL. Loughnane fell short of the PFL championship in 2021, losing a decision to eventual champion Movlid Khaybulaev in the semifinal round of the playoffs. But in this latest season he claimed the featherweight tournament title with a fourth-round knockout win over Bubba Jenkins.
After scoring the belt that eluded him the previous year, Loughnane addressed his career path that low point on the Contender Series in 2019.
“From the Dana White thing and the disappointment there, PFL picked me up at a time where my career was in the balance. I’m 8-1 in PFL now, with one split decision (loss) to the former world champ. I’ve had an incredible run,” said Loughnane.
As for the comments that White made after he passed on Loughnane in 2019, those words obviously stuck with the English fighter.
“I remember an interview that was done like, ‘If I’m wrong about this kid, then show me.’ There you go. There you go,” Loughnane said. “What more can I say on that?”