One of the best fights scheduled for UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Allen was a potential No. 1 contender between Brandon Royval and Matheus Nicolau. Ranked at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, the winner could have moved a little closer to a championship opportunity against reigning UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno (or Alexandre Pantoja, pending the results of their upcoming fight at UFC 290).
However, despite its implications, Royval vs. Nicolau was featured on the preliminary portion of the event this past Saturday. And ‘Raw Dawg’ wanted an answer for why that was.
“I was wondering that same thing, too,” said Royval at his media day on Wednesday (video provided by MMA Junkie). “With all the fights on the card, I have a lot of teammates that are on there and they all deserve that spot and they’re all going to make statements, so it’s cool to see that. It’s cool to be like, ‘Okay, I get to fight and then watch them fight.’ I’m really stoked about that.
“That being said, I think we’re the second highest-ranked people on this whole entire card,” continued Royval. “If we’re trying to build up the flyweight division, I think putting us in the limelight would be a good idea. Especially given how much title implications this fight does have. I thought that was a little weird.”
Royval went on to say that regardless of his fight getting scheduled on the prelims, he was going to show why he was ‘the most exciting fighter’ in the flyweight division. And he did exactly that with this recent performance.
Brandon Royval finishes Matheus Nicolau
The Factory X product finished Nicolau with a knee to the chin and a series of elbows for the first-round KO. Fresh off yet another $50k awarded finish, Brandon Royval revisited the question he wanted an answer to a few days earlier: ‘Why was I on a prelim?’
“I should never be on a f—king prelim again,” said Royval in his post-fight press conference (video provided by MMA Junkie). “I’m top five in the world. I’ve been fighting top-five [fighters] since I been in the UFC — top-ten since I’ve been in the UFC. I haven’t fought anybody not in the top ten since I’ve been in the UFC and I’ve been making statements and finishing all these people in the UFC. I have all finishes.
“It is what it is, but why am I on a prelim?,” continued Royval. “Why am I on any of these prelims? I got ‘Fight of the Night’ in every single one of my fights — a bonus in every single one of my fights. And it’s like, why am I on a prelim? I’m top five in the division. I’m the second highest ranked [fighter] on this whole entire card.”
Dana White admits Brandon Royval was right
UFC president Dana White admitted the promotion was wrong for having Royval vs. Nicolau on the prelims.
“He’s not wrong,” said White at his post-fight press conference. “Listen, we’re really good at what we do, but we f—k up sometimes. We do. I literally said, ‘we f—red this up’. The kid should’ve opened the show tonight. He’s right.”
As far as his next fight is concerned, White also confirmed that Royval is the backup fighter for Moreno vs. Pantoja II at International Fight Week.
“Yeah, he looked good tonight, man,“ said White. “I’m always impressed when that kid fights. He’s incredible, and I knew that fight was going to be good. You just know.“
About the author