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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Thomas George

'I've paid off mum's mortgage': Meet Brendan Loughnane - Manchester's newest millionaire

When Brendan Loughnane set out to chase his dream of becoming a professional cage fighter, people looked at him as though he 'was an alien'.

After leaving North Trafford College, he decided to shun the 'safe option' of a career in mechanical engineering and pursue his passion for MMA.

Now, after more than a decade of sweat and toil, the boy from south Manchester is a millionaire world title holder, having won the Professional Fighters League World Championship featherweight title.

Hundreds of Mancs flew out to New York to cheer on the 32-year-old as he knocked out the American Bubba Jenkins on November 25.


It's been a long journey to the top for Brendan, who dreams of following in the footsteps of his hero Ricky Hatton and becoming a 'Manc legend'.

Brendan grew up in Withington, attending The Barlow RC High School in Didsbury as a boisterous, athletic, football-loving teenager.

A neighbour introduced him to mixed martial arts (MMA), taking him along to the gym where he trained.

Brendan never looked back. He landed his first amateur fight at the age of 18 after just three months of training. At the time, he was 'over the moon' at earning £150 for the fight, splashing his winnings in a local casino with his friends.

A young Brendan Loughnane (Brendan Loughnane)

He went on to win his first five amateur fights before turning professional in 2010. Although he had recently completed a BTEC in mechanical engineering at North Trafford College, the decision to turn pro was a no-brainer.

"We got to a crossroads where it was like 'you can't do both'", said Brendan. "It was just a case of 'do I pursue that or do I chase this wild dream?' That's what I did.

"Back then, MMA wasn't even a thing. Realistically, the safe option was to be a mechanical engineer and earn your 60 grand a year and grow old.

"I was like 'nah, I'm going to follow my passion'. I was running away with this career that had no goal and no one was making any money out of it.

"I just loved it and ran with it and turned it into something. Passion will always win."

Brendan Loughnane celebrates winning the Professional Fighters League World Championship (Cooper Neill/PFL)

After turning professional in 2010, Brendan used a football cage at Platt Fields Park in Fallowfield as a makeshift gym, drawing curious looks from passers-by.

"We didn't have our own gym so we just made it work outdoors," he says.

"MMA wasn't even a thing back then. It was very frowned upon, like 'what? You fight in cages?'

"I've watched the ascendancy of it to a massive, mainstream sport. Back then, telling people you were a cage fighter in 2008, people looked as you like were an alien."

Having been a mainstay of the UK scene for years, Brendan joined the PFL in 2019 after he was controversially snubbed for a UFC contract despite winning his fight on the Contender series.

The PFL deal included a considerable signing bonus, which Brendan immediately used to pay off the mortgage on his mother's home.

Brendan Loughnane celebrates his win over Tyler Diamond in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in June 2021 (Getty Images)

"In my eyes, that's what every man should do when they get their first big pay cheque," he said. "That was my first priority. My next priority is actually finding my own house."

Describing his fighting style, he says he likes to 'get stuck in' and 'doesn't hold anything back'.

It was an approach on display during his momentous victory over Bubba Jenkins at Madison Square Garden's Hulu Theatre on November 25.

Brendan had a phenomenal run on his road to the title, winning hard-fought decisions against Ryoji Kudo and Ago Huskic before qualifying for the final of the World Championships with a flawless win against bitter rival Chris Wade in August.

Victory was all the sweeter after Brendan came up short in last year's competition, losing to eventual winner Movlid Khaybulaev in the semi-finals.

Brendan Loughnane lands a blow on opponent Bubba Jenkins during their bout in New York (Cooper Neill/PFL)

During his post-fight interview, an emotional Brendan was joined in the cage by his mother.

"This woman here is my rock," he said. "She spurred me on when we didn't have a pound in the back and now look at what we've got," said Loughnane. "That's why I'm crying. I'm emotional."

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News ahead of the fight, he said: "This is what I've worked towards since I was 16 years old.

"It's been a lifetime of ups, downs, loads of positives, loads of negatives, but it's made me the man and fighter that I am.

"I genuinely believe I'm going to wipe the floor with Bubba Jenkins and bring a big, shiny belt back to Manchester."

Brendan Loughnane celebrates winning the Professional Fighters League World Championship featherweight title (Cooper Neill/PFL)

The victory saw Brendan championed by one of MMA's biggest names. Following the fight, Conor McGregor took to Twitter as he called on the UFC to sign Brendan.

He tweeted: "UFC, sign Brendan Loughnane. Exciting fighter. A back story with the company. And of the European side. A money in the bank uk/Europe signing. Congrats on the win @BrendanMMA.”

Brendan now has a professional MMA record of 26 wins and four losses and has never been knocked out or submitted.

As well as signing for UFC, another of Brendan’s ambitions is to become a household name in his home city.

"I want to be etched amongst the Ricky Hattons and Anthony Crollas," he said. "I've looked up to them my whole life. To be even mentioned in the same breath would be a blessing.

Brendan Loughnane receives a cheque for $1 million (Cooper Neill/PFL)

"I believe that I can be. I'm just ticking stuff off day by day, it's bananas. Sometimes I have to pinch myself."

Now with a world title under his belt, Brendan hopes his success will inspire the next generation of young Mancs.

"I'm just a kid from Withington who had a burning passion and never gave up," he said. "I didn't get given anything. I wasn't overly talented at anything, I just worked hard. I still do work hard, I'm non-stop.

"That's why it's all starting to pay off. I do believe that what is done in the dark will always come to light. I don't take time off. I take my career very seriously and I think that's why I am where I am."

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