Coming into 2020, flyweight Brandon Royval knew it could be a big year for him, having entered the year with back to back wins and the prospect of fighting on the Contender Series on the table. While the year has delivered on its promise for Royval, it didn’t quite go as he had expected.
Rather than fight on the Contender Series, Royval was called on to face veteran Tim Elliott at UFC Fight Night in May, and ended up coming away with a second-round submission victory.
“The Tim Elliott fight was good. It was a great experience,” Royval told MMAWeekly.com. “I got to face a little bit of adversity and overcome it, and to have the experience of being in there with a top ranked opponent in Tim Elliott is great.
“There was a point that I didn’t even know if the UFC was going to be an option. It’s been a lifelong dream, and this was an opportunity to make a lifelong dream come true. It was just perfect how it worked fighting Tim Elliott and put myself as the #10 (ranked flyweight) in the world right away.”
While it had been a half a year since he had previously fought before facing Elliott, Royval knew it could be a while before he got into the cage, so bide his time in a way so that he wouldn’t be out of sorts when the call came to fight again.
“The fact that I had a spot in the Contender Series (prior to getting the call to go to the UFC) it was a smarter move to make sure I was okay for this fight,” said Royval. “I didn’t feel rusty or anything, but I would have liked to have had a fight before then. It worked out because I got called up to the UFC without having to fight on the Contender Series.”
On Saturday on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, Royval (11-4) will look to pick up his third straight victory when he faces Kai Kara-France (21-8) in a UFC 253 flyweight main card bout.
“I think there’s a big difference in our ground games,” Royval said. “I think my ground game is strides ahead of (Kara-France’s). It always plays to my advantage to hit the mat.
“I think he’s very A-B-C-type of striking. It’s pretty typical. That’s kind of his key to success. Shutting him down there and bringing it to my game, and keep it creative, and not fight an A-B-C kickboxing match with him. I want to go out there and make him uncomfortable and let’s see what happens from there.”
For Royval, facing tough opposition means he can’t really look past his upcoming fight, so he’s just going to focus on one thing at a time and see what comes after September 26.
“I don’t know what happens after this fight,” said Royval. “I want to go out there make a statement, show my hard work, and show what I put out there. We’ll go from there.
“I definitely want a quick turnaround, but I’m fighting Kai Kara-France, and who knows what could happen. It could be a war. It’s going to be an exciting fight, and exciting fights don’t end up in quick turnarounds, so we’ll see.”
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