Brandon Royval made a huge statement at the UFC Kansas City event last April on ESPN, knocking out budding flyweight contender Matheus Nicolau in the very first round. The performance was strong enough to land “Raw Dog” the backup spot for the 125-pound title fight between Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja at UFC 290 this July in Las Vegas.
That may be the only way Royval gets his hands on gold for the foreseeable future.
UFC President Dana White recently told reporters “there’s no guarantees that anybody’s next,” including Royval, after Amir Albazi defeated Top 5 contender Kai Kara-France in controversial fashion in the UFC Vegas 74 headliner last weekend in “Sin City.”
To make matters worse, the UFC rankings panel launched Albazi four rungs up the flyweight rankings ladder to No. 3, one spot above Royval, while also sending Kara-France down two places to No. 5 and likely out of title contention for the foreseeable future.
Not surprisingly, Royval was “pissed.”
“I was just f*cking pissed, heartbroken,” Royval told MMA Underground (transcribed by MMA News). “I’m not trying to say anybody’s trying to take anything away from me, but it just seems like I’m not even closer. I thought at the very least, even if Albazi won, it was not deserving of a title (shot) and it’s not deserving to jump me in the rankings. I thought that immediately, I thought, ‘Cool, he ain’t gonna beat me in the rankings and he’s not gonna take that title shot.’ I was pretty stoked. Then I saw Dana White’s interview and I was like, ‘What the f*ck?’”
Royval (15-6) is the winner of three straight and previously submitted Kara-France by rear-naked choke at UFC 253 back in late 2020. Working against “Raw Dog” is consecutive losses to Moreno (UFC 255) and Pantoja (UFC Vegas 34) whereas Albazi remains unbeaten in five trips to the Octagon.
“If they’re really gonna (have Albazi) jump me over that performance, that’s f*cking crazy,” Royval continued. “I’m not even trying to say just over my winning over Kai Kara-France, that was a sh*tty fight. That was definitely not him (Albazi) winning. It was a very underwhelming performance. Then if you compare performance versus performance and we go to the resumé that Matheus Nicolau had compared to Amir Albazi, it’s like, ‘There’s no way he’s gonna jump me in the rankings.’”
Don’t expect much sympathy from Albazi.
“I got the win against the No. 3 in the world,” Albazi said during the UFC Vegas 74 post-fight press conference. “Who else is it? Who else is above him? It’s Pantoja, Moreno, and I don’t know what’s going on with Deiveson Figueiredo. It seems like he doesn’t want to fight at flyweight. I’m the next one for the title. Brandon Royval, we were booked, and he pulled out of the fight. I don’t know what really happened. So it doesn’t make sense he goes before me and gets a title shot.”
Royval vs. Albazi would be the easiest way to settle this debate but with “Raw Dog” scheduled for the backup role at UFC 290, we may not get any many (if any) answers on the flyweight title picture until after Moreno and Pantoja settle their score in July.