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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
and Danny Segura

UFC Mexico headliner Brandon Moreno frustrated by winless record in home country

MEXICO CITY – Brandon Moreno is grateful for a third chance to achieve a win in his home country Saturday at UFC Fight Night 237.

Moreno (21-7-2 MMA, 9-3-2 UFC) meets Brandon Royval (15-7 MMA, 5-3 UFC) in the flyweight headliner at Mexico City Arena (ESPN+) in what will be his third UFC bout in the country. He fought to a draw and suffered a loss in his previous two fights in Mexico, and the fact he hasn’t been able to win there eats him up inside.

Although he’s not obsessing about the situation, Moreno, 30, has every intention of making the third time the charm.

“I feel a little bit frustrated, because obviously I want to put that on my legacy,” Moreno told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 237 media day. “Raise my hand in front of my people, in front of my Mexican flag. That’s it. It’s something that happened in the past, and I just try to turn the page. It’s frustrating, but I’ve been living with a lot of pressure since 2020, fighting for championships and rematches and the trilogies.

“I’m just trying to have fun in this one. At the same time, I understand the importance this fight has to my record right now. I’m focusing on Brandon Royval. I’m focusing on the challenge in front, and I’m ready.”

The odds this time around are in Moreno’s favor to accomplish his goal. Not only is he the betting favorite, but he already has a win over Royval on his resume.

Moreno defeated Royval by first-round TKO at UFC 255 in November, but the stoppage came after Royval sustained a shoulder injury that compromised his performance and prevented him from properly defending while he absorbed ground-and-pound en route to the stoppage.

Royval argued during his media day appearance that the first encounter was meaningless and he doesn’t look at it as a real loss. Moreno wouldn’t go as far as to fully agree, but he understands Royval’s mentality.

“It was a really quick fight – just one round,” Moreno said. “The only thoughts I have is that I was winning. He was throwing a lot. He was making a lot of distance. I wanted to take him down, and I was controlling him. That’s the only thing, but I understand his frustration. He really believes he can beat me. But I don’t care. I’m just ready to fight.”

UFC Fight Night 237 will represent Moreno’s first non-title bout since the first encounter with Royval more than three years ago. A win could potentially set him up for a title shot, as reigning champ Alexandre Pantoja is looking for an opponent for UFC 301 on May 4 in Rio de Janeiro.

Moreno said he’s not thinking about whether a win this weekend puts him in that spot and said it would be a big mistake to overlook Royval.

“Maybe (I’ll get a title shot),” Moreno said. “I don’t even know. I just want to be focused on Royval. A lot of people right now are asking me about Pantoja. I know it’s (media’s) job to ask about that and the future. But right now I’m very focused on Brandon Royval.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 237.

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