Brandon Royval explains how 2021 loss to Alexandre Pantoja made him stop ‘fighting like an a**hole’

UFC flyweight contender Brandon Royval has felt like a new man since the last he tasted defeat.

Royval is currently on a three-fight winning streak after getting submitted by Alexandre Pantoja in August 2021. The defeat to the Brazilian stung, but it left Royval (15-6 MMA, 5-2 UFC) with a valuable lesson: Fight smarter.

“I feel like Alexandre Pantoja woke me up to that,” Royval told Morning Kombat. “I need to change the way I’m going about things because I’m out here doing all these film studies for no reason.

“I’m watching fights every damn day of my life. I’m watching boxing matches every day of my life but then going out there and fighting like an asshole. I just needed to change my ways for sure.”

Royval returns to the cage Dec. 16 as he looks to avenge his loss to Pantoja (26-5 MMA, 10-3 UFC), who now holds the UFC flyweight title. The 125-pound championship bout serves as the co-main event of  UFC 296.

Royval feels like he’s the most technical fighter in the division but was fighting in a way that tried to match his opponents on a physical toughness level rather than using his abilities.

“To be completely honest about how I feel now, I’m strategically better,” Royval said. “… I feel like I’m a complete fighter. A lot of these dudes like Moreno, and I’m not trying to sh*t on anybody, but he’s primarily a boxer. He’ll throw kicks once in a while, but I think if it goes down to the basics, I think I beat these guys in boxing matches, taekwondo matches. I’ll probably get out wrestled by every single one of them, but in a jiu-jitsu match I feel like I beat them. I feel like I’m more of a compleundefinedte martial artist.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 296.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie