Written By Dylan Knostman
While the term “action fighter” is typically not commonly used for fighters in the Flyweight division, Brandon Royval can draw even the most technical and strategic fighters into a fast-paced and exciting firefight. Training out of Factory X in Denver, Colorado, and holding a record of 14-6 with 12 of his 14 wins coming by knockout or submission, when Royval steps in the octagon, the judges are rarely needed. Adept on both the ground and the feet, Brandon Royval does a tremendous job of blending his techniques into a chaotic, yet effective style. He generally will draw his opponents out of their game plan into a wild brawl, which typically results in his opponent making a mistake and Royval capitalizing on that error. He faces #5 Matheus Nicolau on April 15th, 2023 at UFC Fight Night: Kansas City.
Brandon Royval is a mixed martial artist competing in the UFC’s flyweight division. Born, raised, and still training out of Denver, Colorado, Royval began training Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the age of 15. Just a few short years later at the age of 18, Royval made his amateur debut and fought at this level for 2 years, compiling a record of 5-0 before making his pro debut in 2012. Fighting primarily for Legacy Fighting Alliance, Royval began his career with a record of 8-3, which earned him the opportunity to fight for the Interim Flyweight title against fellow future UFC fighter Casey Kenney. Despite losing this fight by unanimous decision, just a short while after Kenney signed with the UFC, Royval captured the belt with a first round submission over Nate Williams in his home state of Colorado. The “Raw Dog” got his UFC contract after this win and made his promotional debut vs Tim Elliott on May 30th, 2020. To many people’s surprise, Royval overwhelmed the veteran Elliott and submitted him via arm triangle choke in this second round. Since his debut, Royval has wins over Kai Kara France, Rogerio Bontorin, and Matt Schnell, with his only two losses coming to the current two title contenders Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja, who will face off for the UFC Flyweight title in July 2023. This resume shows Royval is a top contender who has faced nothing but the best competition since joining the world’s most prestigious promotion. With a win over Nicolau in Kansas city, Brandon Royval could easily make a case for the next title shot. In addition to his fighting career, he is a Jiu Jitsu coach at Factory X in Denver, Colorado.
Brandon “Raw Dog” Royval holds a record of 14-6 with 12 of his 14 wins coming by knockout or submission.
Words simply cannot do justice to the sheer ferocity and pace Royval brings to the cage. Very few fighters are able to keep up, which forces his opponents to operate outside of their gameplan. His fight with Kai Kara France is a tremendous example of this. France is a measured but explosive striker, but Royval’s aggressiveness made it difficult for Kai to find his rhythm, resulting in the “Raw Dog” snatching up a second round guillotine choke. There is risk to this as well, which was evident against both Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja. Both of these fighters were able to weather the storm, stay safe, and essentially let Royval outpace himself, resulting in a submission loss to Pantoja and knockout loss to Moreno in these fights. From a technical standpoint, Royval is very adept both on the ground and on the feet. In terms of striking, he uses a wide variety of feints and never stays in one place, perpetually moving and creating angles. He sets up most of his strikes and takedowns with a sharp jab and straight right. He also utilizes his kicks well, oftentimes going high and aiming for the head. The left high kick is an effective weapon for pressure fighters, as it forces your opponent to block, which typically results in his opponent pausing their offense and therefore forcing an interruption in offense and timing. Typically when a fighter is defending a kick as well, their weight shifts to the backfoot, also interrupting forward movement. When Royval is able to chase his opponent down, he becomes very dangerous. Brandon tends to throw one or two strikes at a time, until his opponent is cornered or in trouble then he will lay it on. As previously mentioned, his feint game and movement makes it feel like he is constantly putting out offense, as he will feint three or four times in between most strikes. When the fight does hit the canvas, Royval is one of the most elite scramblers in the UFC. Almost never stuck, Royval uses a variety of Jiu Jitsu guards both defensively and to attempt submissions. He is extremely active off of his back, with both submissions and strikes. His favorite submission seems to be armbars, as he has 3 wins by this method but Royval also owns an incredible guillotine choke, which he used to finish both Matt Schnell and Kai Kara France. At just 30 years old, the argument is to be made that Royval is just now entering his prime and it will be interesting to see what techniques he adds to his repertoire.
As previously mentioned, Royval fights with an absolute breakneck pace, generally forcing his opponents to make both mental and physical errors. While this can be extremely effective, there are times when Royval’s opponents are able to make their reads, avoid danger early in the fight and capitalize when Royval is either tired or hurt. Pantoja gave the game plan to winning on the ground, as he maintained position over submission early and waited until Brandon's own pace caught up to him. In the stand up, the key to avoiding Royval’s pressure is to force him to chase instead of walk down, and then use counter striking and well timed level changes to interrupt his constant flow of offense. Otherwise the Raw Dog will build momentum until he finds his opportunity to overwhelm the opponent and finish the fight. His next opponent, Matheus Nicolau, is a great example of a dangerous opponent for Royval, Extremely measured and patient on the feet, Nicolau will wait until he sees his opening and pounce, meaning Royval must stay aggressive but patient himself, and do not fall victim to any unforced errors. Finishing Royval is a challenge, and he has had the most difficulty in his career winning on the scorecards.
One of the most exciting fighters the UFC has to offer, Brandon Royval’s fights are a must see spectacle. Few athletes are able to fight at the pace that he does, and the diversity of attacks and techniques that Royval uses can keep even the most veteran of fighters guessing. While pace and aggressiveness are his keys to success, Royval must stay semi-measured and not allow himself to be defeated by his own mistakes. With a win on April 15th, we could very well see Royval challenging for the title sooner rather than later.