Brandon Royval expects quick changes in UFC’s flyweight division in 2022, plans to make it year of ‘Raw Dawg’
Brandon Royval knows what it’s like to make quick steps forward in the UFC’s flyweight division – and what it’s like to slide back a bit, too. But moving forward, he hopes to use that volatility to his advantage.
“The division is super small right now, and I think the division’s, like, starting to explode,” Royval told MMA Junkie Radio. “I think you see quick changes, and I think I’m probably one of the best examples of that, of just having being a nobody at all and now I think I’m No. 5 on the road, so it’s just crazy to what one year really did in my life.”
Royval exploded on to the UFC scene with back-to-back “Fight of the Night” victories over Tim Elliott and Kai Kara-France. However, he’s since suffered consecutive losses to Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja and was able to fight just once in 2021 while recovering from shoulder surgery.
“With the Brandon Moreno one, … I knew that my shoulder was compromised in that fight, so that sucked,” Royval said. “I obviously made mistakes and stuff that I could learn in that fight and things I could take away, of course, but that surgery was needed. That surgery needed to happen, and as far as that Pantoja fight, I feel like I’m just growing mentally in general is really what the big takeaway and what I’ve learned and grown from that.”
Royval (12-6 MMA, 2-2 UFC) returns to action at Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 32 event, where he takes on Brazilian contender Rogerio Bonterin (17-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC). It’s a key matchup in the division, with Royval sitting at No. 9 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie flyweight rankings, and Bontorin checking in just behind at No. 12.
Royval knows he’s not getting a title shot with a win, but he does feel like he’ll be moving in the right direction.
“The conversation we’re having is like, stay at the top of the mountain,” Royval said. “If you think about my career and where I’ve been so far as like, I haven’t even fought in front of a crowd. I’ve never walked out like a proper UFC walkout or any of that stuff, so it’s like, I think for me is I want at least two fights before I get that title shot, and I think that’s more what’s needed on it.
“I wish I could take the title shot this week, but what’s needed is I probably need to win this fight and then another title contention fight, and then I’ll probably be right in the picture for a title match or something like to that point.”
Regardless of how many fights he’ll need to get to the top of the division, Royval said he’s committed to reaching the pinnacle and remaining there for some time. It all starts with Saturday, though, and Royval believes it’s time for a big rebound from his recent setbacks.
“I want to have a really big 2022, and I want my next performance to be even bigger,” Royval said. “I want to think that this is just like a performance, you know? I’m going out there, and I want to go out there and put on a performance.
“I want my next performance to be bigger, bigger than my last, man. I want 2022 to be the year the ‘Dawg.’ You know what I’m saying? It’s going to be the year of the ‘Raw Dawg,’ and I want to take over that division.”
To hear the full interview with Royval, check out the video below.