This past September in his bout versus Kai Kara-France at UFC 253, flyweight Brandon Royval experienced something he doesn’t think he had in his previous seven years as a fighter: a sense of pure fun in a fight.
While going at it toe to toe with Kara-France might not have been what his coaches wanted 100%, Royval was able to control the action enough that they let him have at it until he was able to finish the bout via submission under a minute into Round 2.
“It was definitely a fun fight,” Royval told MMAWeekly.com. “I don’t think I’ve ever said that before in the middle of the fight that I was having fun and enjoying the moment. It was kind of a back and forth brawl, and it was the first time I’ve ever really had fun in a fight.
“That fight meant a lot to me to like getting that ranking, where I was on the card, and I knew it was all about making a statement about myself, and I felt like I did that.”
Having spent his career fighting stateside, to travel to UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi was something a bit different for Royval, but not too uncommon for the kind of schedule he kept prior to fighting fulltime.
“I think the fight was like at 4 a.m. in the morning Abu Dhabi time or something, so I was just staying up at opposite times and all that stuff,” said Royval. “It was like olden times back when I was working and stuff.
“It’s not a hassle (to travel and go through Covid-19 protocol). None of this stuff is a hassle. It’s like a dream come true. I was excited to do all the stuff that I’m sure other fighters don’t like, because it means the world for me to be here. The fact that I can be a part of this is so great.”
On Saturday in Las Vegas, Royval (12-4) will go for his third straight UFC win when he takes on Brandon Moreno 17-5-1) in a 125-pound preliminary bout at UFC 255.
“I just have to be myself with Moreno,” Royval said. “Maybe a little more strategic than I was in my last fight. In the last fight I got caught up in a brawl. It was fun to scrap with somebody, but I think I’ll be a little bit more calculated with this fight.
“I think it will be a little bit more strategic for me, and a lot more of my MMA IQ out there is what I will show off.”
For Royval, closing out his year with a big win would be a big boost for the coming year, no matter where or when the UFC puts him back into action.
“I’m going to try to make a statement in this fight and hopefully that will set me up for a good spot for 2021,” said Royval. “Maybe I don’t have to set a roadmap or try to get anywhere, maybe I’ll land on (something), who knows.”
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