The co-headliner at Friday’s PFL 2022 World Championship at the Hulu Theater in New York, NY saw fan-fave Brendan Loughnane up against Bubba Jenkins.
A lot was on the line in the fight, quite literally: the win, bragging rights following a bit of bad blood, the featherweight championship, and oh, just the little matter of one million dollars in prize money.
Perhaps most of all, however — if you buy into such storylines — redemption was on the line. For Loughnane, a win would prove all the naysayers long, including UFC President Dana White, who years ago failed to reward the Brit with a UFC contract despite a strong showing on the Contender Series.
For Jenkins, a former Bellator MMA athlete, it would likewise be his first major title, and proof that falling short to Chris Wade in the semifinals a year ago was but a blip.
Early in the fight, Jenkins showed stance switches and leg kicks, but was stymied on his early takedown attempts — a good sign for Loughnane, given Jenkins’ wrestling prowess. A right hand landing flush, however, paved the way for a Jenkins entry, as he shot on a takedown, only for Loughnane to show superb balance in staying upright.
Jenkins poured on a second attempt, grabbing a leg and forcing Loughnane to defend while on one foot, which he did, successfully. A boost in confidence for Loughnane, perhaps, who moments later fired some whip-like kicks to Jenkin’s lead leg. It was Jenkins, however, catching Loughnane with a punch at the end of the opening stanza, perhaps the most significant strike of the round.
Brendan Loughnane entered the second round bloodied as a result of that final exchange in round one. He went after Jenkins’ lead leg once again, trailing it with a jab. Jenkins continued to walk forward, but those leg kicks were likely adding up. When Jenkins moved in for a takedown, Loughnane fought him off once again; the pair went back to exchanging at center. Loughnane added a front kick, following by a couple of punches upstairs. Jenkins, active as well, landed a kick to the body. A left hand connected for Bubba.
Just as the round was winding down, a Loughnane kicked strayed low, leaving Jenkins in pain and in need of recovery time. Loughnane protested, hollering “let’s go.” Back underway, he fired a kick to the body just prior to the bell sounding.
Round three found both men working their jab. Jenkins pushed the action, but Loughnane fired back with a combo capped off by another excruciating leg kick. Jenkins was switching stances just to keep his legs out of harms way, seemingly. His jab snapped Loughnane’s head back, but the British featherweight attacked Jenkins’ good leg — which, were that to continue, might not remain “good” for long. But Jenkins hit home with a right hand, then another. A third followed. Loughnane was bleeding a bit more. Jenkins changed levels for a takedown, but the attempt was transparent, and ultimately futile.
On the other hand, Loughnane opened up towards the end of the third. Seemingly everything he threw hit the mark. Lefts, rights, uppercuts, knees. Jenkins retreated, covered up, but gutted it out and survived the round.
We go to the Championship Rounds for the 2nd time tonight!
— PFL (@PFLMMA) November 26, 2022
Despite the damage Bubba Jenkins’ lead leg had accrued, he was more than willing to kick with it early in round four. He also shot in on a takedown, perhaps a tad more explosively than some of his more recent attempts. The result was the same; Loughnane’s takedown defense had clearly improved, and he pulled free before long. At range, a leg kick was followed with a right and a left. All three landed for Loughnane. A right hand then hurt Jenkins, and Loughnane poured it on. Jenkins scrambled to the fence but was under fire, and the ref waved it off!
From Contender Series reject to world champion in just a few years, and a millionaire as well — it’s been a wild ride for Brendan Loughnane.
Official Result: Brendan Loughnane def. Bubba Jenkins by TKO, Round 4, 2:38