UFC Fight Night: Brandon Royval avenges loss to Brandon Moreno, Ortega submits Rodríguez

Photo Courtesy: UFC

Brandon Royval avenged his 2020 loss to former flyweight champion Brandon Moreno as the UFC returned to Mexico for the first time in nearly five years.

The flyweights took the main event spotlight and put forth a five-round performance with a close fight, resulting in a split decision nod for Royval.

The two previously fought in November 2020 where Moreno scored a last-second TKO in the opening round, which catapulted him to a title fight three weeks later.

This time, Royval used his endurance to pull forward in the final three rounds and saw a massive output. The 31-year-old Royval threw 556 strikes over five rounds, although only connected on 28 percent of his output. Those numbers were in contrast to Moreno landing 119 total strikes out of 219 thrown with a 53 percent connection rate, per UFC stats.

Moreno had the edge in the first two rounds especially in the second frame through the utilization of his right hand and capitalizing on Royval’s inability to exit on his combinations and be prone to counterstrikes.

However, Royval turned up the intensity in the second half of the fight. After landing 12 and 18 significant strikes respectively in the opening two rounds, those figures escalated to 25, 49, and 41 in the final three.  

Judges Michael Bell and Chris Lee scored the fight 48-47 for Royval, although had differing rounds for Royval. Junichiro Kamijo was the dissenting scorecard for Moreno with a 49-46 tally.

All three judges agreed on the final two rounds with the fourth for Royval and the fifth round for Moreno.

Royval was a replacement in this fight after contender Amir Albazi withdrew due to injury. Royval has two losses to current flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja including a title fight last December and remains to be seen if Royval will be in title contention so close after his defeat at UFC 296. Pantoja was in attendance and Royval directed his post-fight speech at the champion to seek a third attempt to hand Pantoja a loss.

Moreno falls to 21-8-2 with his second loss in a row with this fight marking his seventh fight in a row that was scheduled for five rounds.

In the co-feature, Brian Ortega scored a massive submission win against Yair Rodríguez in the third round to stay afloat in the upper mix in the featherweight division.

After overcoming a big round by Rodríguez in the first where he was outstruck by a margin of 45-6, he rebounded to win the second round and even the scorecards heading into the third.

Ortega had top position when he locked on a tight arm triangle and forced Rodríguez to submit less than a minute into the round.

Since challenging for the featherweight title in December 2018, Ortega (16-3, 1 NC) has only competed four times and this marks the 33-year-old’s first victory since October 2020.

This was a rematch from July of 2022 when Ortega sustained a shoulder injury in the opening round which led to Rodriguez earning a TKO win.

It marks the first time in the career of Rodríguez (15-5, 1 NC) that he has lost two fights in a row following a TKO loss to former champion Alexander Volkanovski last July at UFC 290.

After the card, Fight of the Night honors were handed out to lightweights Daniel Zellhuber and Francisco Prado for their three-round contest.

The Performance of the Night bonuses went to Brian Ortega and Manuel Torres.

The card lost a bantamweight fight at the last minute when Raul Rosas Jr. fell ill and his fight against Ricky Turcios was pulled from the main card but is now set to take place next weekend at the UFC Fight Night card at the Apex in Las Vegas.

*Brandon Royval def. Brandon Moreno by split decision (48-47, 46-49, 48-47)
*Brian Ortega over Yair Rodríguez by arm-triangle choke at 0:58 of Round 3
*Daniel Zellhuber def. Francisco Prado by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
*Yazmin Jauregui def. Sam Hughes by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Manuel Torres def. Chris Duncan by rear-naked choke at 1:46 of Round 1
*Raoni Barcelos def. Cristian Quiñonez by rear-naked choke at 2:04 of Round 3
*Jesús Santos Aguilar def. Mateus Mendonça by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
*Edgar Chairez def. Daniel Lacerda by triangle choke at 2:17 of Round 1
*Farès Ziam def. Claudio Puelles by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
*Ronaldo Rodríguez def. Denys Bondar by rear-naked choke at 4:59 of Round 2
*Felipe dos Santos def. Victor Altamirano by split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
*Muhammad Naimov def. Erik Silva by TKO (leg injury) at 0:44 of Round 1

About John Pollock 5522 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.