Brendan Loughnane and Sheymon Moraes face off in a blockbuster fight that has been dubbed the ‘People’s Main Event’ of PFL 1: 2021.
There has recently been a huge amount of hype and success surrounding a number of fighters from the UK. Leon Edwards, Arnold Allen, Paddy Pimblett, and Jack Shore are all prime examples. However, Brendan Loughnane is no different. The Mancunian picked up a decisive unanimous decision victory on Dana White’s Contenders Series but was bizarrely overlooked for a UFC contract. However, he nows plies his trade in the PFL, where he is currently 2-0.
Loughnane is a high-level striker, and a proud utiliser of one of MMA’s more recent breakout weapons, the low calf kick. In his most recent fight, against David Valente, Loughnane built his whole game plan around the calf kick. By repeatedly landing it in the first round, he was able to limit Valente’s mobility early on. From there he was able to start opening up with his punch combinations and high kicks. It is also worth noting that Loughnane actually finished Amaury Junior with leg kicks back in 2018.
Loughnane is a pressure fighter and truly excels when his opponent is on the backfoot. If he does not receive pushback, Loughnane will piece his opponent up. We have seen fighters such as Matt Wagy attempt to clinch up with Loughnane, in order to neutralize this striking threat. However, Loughnane has repeatedly shown strong counter wrestling to block these attempts.
A former bantamweight turned featherweight, Sheymon Moraes has already faced some of the world’s best in both divisions. A run in the UFC between 2017 and 2019 saw Moraes compete against the like of Zabit Magomedsharipov, Andre Fili, and Sodiq Yusuff. Unfortunately for Moraes, he went 2-3 with the UFC and was subsequently cut after being brutally KO’d by Fili in 2019. He has been inactive ever since but is now looking to bounce back with a big win at a new organization.
Moraes is a big hitter with real power in his hands and legs. In his last win, against Julio Arce, it took less than 1 minute to floor his opponent with a vicious right hook. However, following that knockdown, Moraes was unable to capitalize, and in fact, ended up on the wrong end of multiple grappling exchanges for the rest of that round. He clipped Arce early in the second round with the same strike, but then once again was tied up with clinch wrestling.
However, whilst the lack of finishing instinct may be a slightly worrying factor for Moraes fans, he is still an excellent striker. One of the ways he generates so much power in his strikes is by setting up well-timed counters. However, he also makes great use of intercepting strikes, often jabbing to the body as his opponent steps towards him. Against Matt Sayles, Moraes continually backed away, only to step in with either a jab, tap or roundhouse to the body as Sayles chased him.
Both fighters are excellent strikers and tend to struggle most against wrestlers. Thus we may well see an all-out war between these two men. Whilst Moraes has shown glimpses of pressure fighting before, such as the early exchanges with Arce, it will likely be Loughnane who takes the center of the octagon initially. This may well play into Moraes’ game, however, where the Brazilians habit of using intercepting and counter strikes can come into play.
Despite this, Moraes has seemed susceptible to being leg kicked in the past, which as mentioned above is one of Loughnan’s specialties. If Loughnane is able to compromise one of Moraes’ legs, it will become increasingly hard for him to continue to implement his game. If Moraes’ striking game is weakened, he will likely be in deep trouble as Loughnane will be able to take control of the fight, already having an advantage in the grappling department.
Loughnane is yet to be knocked out, with his only three losses coming by way of decision. However, Moraes does have real KO power and if he is able to clip Loughnane early he may be able to cause an upset. Should he be unable to cause some real damage early on, expect Loughnane to steadily impose his game over Moraes for either a late finish or decision victory.
The PFL’s first event of 2021 takes place on Friday 23rd. It is set to be headlined by new signing Anthony Pettis who takes on Clay Collard who has spent his past few years on the boxing circuit. Brendan Loughnane will off course take on Shaymon Moraes as the ESPN main event, whilst Lance Palmer, Bubba Jenkins, and Taylor Diamond will all also feature.