Brendan Loughnane hopes to cross paths with Movlid Khaybulaev in 2023 PFL finals

Brendan Loughnane hopes his road to another PFL title goes through Movlid Khaybulaev.

Khaybulaev (20-0-1-1) is the only fighter to beat Loughnane (27-4) in the PFL, edging him out by split decision in the 2021 PFL semifinals. He went on to beat Chris Wade in the finals to win the season and featherweight title.

With Khaybulaev missing last year, Loughnane didn’t get a chance to cross paths with him en route to winning the featherweight title himself. But Loughnane would love the stars to align for a finals showdown with Khaybulaev this year.

“I’m just hoping that the standings for the semis are gonna lie where I actually get him in the final,” Loughnane told MMA Junkie Radio. “I would rather fight him over five rounds this time. I’m a five-round fighter. I just feel like I’ve got massive advantages in the fourth and fifth. So, I’m hoping that I get him over five, but if I have to do it over three, I’m not mad at that either.”

Both Loughnane and Khaybulaev were successful to kick off their 2023 PFL campaign. Loughnane stopped former UFC title challenger Marlon Moraes by TKO at PFL 1, and Khaybulaev scored a unanimous decision over Ryoji Kudo on the same night.

But it wasn’t Khaybulaev who impressed Loughnane in the season opener.

“The only person that stood out to me was Bubba Jenkins,” Loughnane said. “He looked really good against Chris Wade. Apart from that, not really, no. And that’s just being honest.”

Their campaign continues at 2023 PFL 4 on June 8 in Atlanta, where Loughnane is scheduled to face Jesus Pinedo, and Khaybulaev is booked against Daniel Torres.

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie