Brandon Royval wants to defeat Askar Askarov and rematch Alexandre Pantoja. Brandon Royval is working on being “undeniable” as a potential flyweight champion. This Saturday at UFC Vegas 62, Royval will compete against Askar Askarov in a flyweight main event.
With Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno set to unify the flyweight titles at UFC 283, Royval plans to deliver a performance that earns him a No. 1 contender matchup against Alexandre Pantoja on the same card.
Askarov and Royval currently hold the No. 4 and No. 5 spots in the UFC’s flyweight rankings, respectively.
Speaking With Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Royval Said
Royval told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, “That’s my aim, to go out there and be unmistakable.” Make a statement in the world.
In my opinion, I ought to be fighting Pantoja on that championship fight night if I travel to Brazil and make a statement about Askar Askarov.
Take the lead in the competition. Because Alexandre Pantoja is already the backup for that bout, I may as well prepare to face him and win the rematch.
Pantoja had beaten Royval before, by submission in August of this year, and, as Royval pointed out, he is already scheduled to act as the backup for the flyweight championship bout in Brazil.
However, Royval thinks the MMA math might swing in his favor if he were to win against Askarov, who currently has a unanimous decision victory over Pantoja. Not anything I sought out, but it just happened, as Royval put it.
If I go out there and finish Askarov, it will be like I never lost to Pantoja in the UFC in the first place since Askorov defeated Pantoja. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I think I can go out and do it.
Pantoja Would Be Devastated
This may be a dream, but if it comes true, it would be a terrible setback for Pantoja. The No. 2 flyweight is on a three-fight winning run and was widely considered to be next in line for a crack at the championship, but a current logjam at the top of the category has made him temporarily expendable.
Royval acknowledges that forcing Pantoja into another battle would be a significant change for the character, yet he persists in working toward that end.
I would have liked it more if they had chosen Pantoja; it would have given me a chance to square off against Moreno. What Royval meant by saying, “I don’t believe the interim title shot made any sense to me at all,” was that he didn’t see the point.
Deiveson wasn’t gone for very long, thus I don’t see why there was a transitional role. Pantoja proved his mettle by sweeping my partner Kai Kara-France and myself, as well as Moreno for a second time.
I’m not sure I follow, but I’ll do what I can to get things up so I can be there. But it depends on Royval defeating Askarov, which is far from a given.
Askarov has a 14-1-1 record in his professional career, including victories against Pantoja, Tim Elliott, and Joseph Benavidez, and is presently a -245-betting favorite (implying a victory probability of 71 percent).
As with the flyweight championship scenario, beating him will be difficult, but Royval has a strategy.
Royval said that “Kai Kara-France was able to push a high tempo and able to sort of tire him out a little bit,” and that he was similarly able to “set a high pace and overpower” his opponent during their fight.
It’s possible that the inspiration for this battle came from the famous racing car driver Steve Prefontaine. What has been running through my mind is how Steve Prefontaine, who was known to run at a furious pace and take on the competition like a fighter, would run a race.
I want him to feel pain, both from the thrashing he is receiving and from my wounds. I want to be exhausted, to have my lungs burn, and to test my boundaries to the max, and I want him to experience that with me.
And if I’m feeling it, I know he’s feeling it, and that’s when I know I’ll be able to take control of the battle. You should go at a Prefontaine-like pace, get filthy, and see if you can beat him.