Brendan Loughnane is the PFL 3 fighter to watch

Brendan Loughnane returns with revenge on his mind in 2024.
2023 PFL 1
2023 PFL 1 / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Brendan Loughnane was a big fish in a small pond in the PFL's featherweight division just two years ago. Entering the 2024 season, and following the roster merger with Bellator, Loughnane is fighting to prove he remains amongst the elite.

Loughnane kicks off his 2024 PFL season against Pedro Carvalho on April 19 in Chicago. He returns after getting knocked out by the eventual featherweight championship winner, Jesus Pinedo, in his 2023 finale. After finishing Marlon Moraes with a leg kick in the 2023 opener, many felt it was a foregone conclusion that Loughnane would repeat as champion. But, he fell short of that goal and failed to make the postseason tournament.

Loughnane is fighting with a lot to prove in the 2024 PFL 3 co-main event. He'll face an experienced featherweight in Carvalho and will look to get back in the win column after a year of reflecting on the loss to Pinedo.

Brendan Loughnane looks to return to championship form after 2023 struggles

But, Loughnane is no stranger to bouncing back from disappointing losses. After a split decision loss to Movlid Khaybulaev in the 2021 PFL semifinals, he won four fights in just seven months in 2022, including the featherweight title against Bubba Jenkins. Loughnane has never lost back-to-back fights in his professional MMA career. During the PFL offseason, he worked extensively with UFC superstar Conor McGregor ahead of McGregor's Octagon comeback.

Loughnane's steep ascent to PFL stardom has featured significant leaps he's made in his overall skillset. At the beginning of his career, he was known mostly as a boxer, but he'd developed impressive wrestling in the PFL. Loughnane's return to the featherweight season format brings new challenges. In addition to returning featherweights like Loughnane and Gabriel Braga, former Bellator standouts like Timur Khizriev and Adam Borics join the title discussions.

The crowded PFL featherweight division means it's essential for Loughnane to get off to an optimal start in his 2024 return. A win, particularly a finish, could go a long way in determining whether or not he'll return to the postseason. Loughnane has always flourished after suffering disappointing setbacks in his career. When he enters the PFL SmartCage on April 19, he'll look to reclaim the magic that made him a household name and a PFL titleholder.

Brendan Loughnane career highlights

Loughnane captured the 2022 PFL featherweight title by finishing Bubba Jenkins. The victory capped off a run of four wins in seven months for the UK star. Loughnane overcame some early trouble against Jenkins to push the pace and utilize his pressure in the championship rounds.

Loughnane finished former UFC bantamweight title challenger Marlon Moraes with a leg kick during the 2023 PFL season. It was his fifth consecutive win in his first fight since winning the 2022 PFL featherweight title.