A fighter’s reputation is often heavily based on their accomplishments inside the cage. The amount of silverware, the names on their record, the depth of their bank account, in many ways mixed martial arts is a pretty egocentric sport.
But for Manchester’s Brendan Loughnane, he believes his long-lasting legacy depends more on what he is able to give back to MMA, rather than his own personal success.
From his experiences in San Diego, California training with UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz, to his coaching at All Power’s Gym in Stockport, over the past 18 months Loughnane has truly embraced his role in developing others.
Speaking exclusively to MMA PLUS, the former Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes cast member explained his selfless approach.
“You should always, when you reach a certain point in your life, try and give back. This is my way of giving back,” said Loughnane.
He went on to elaborate: “I’m not a selfish person in general, I don’t understand why coaches do hold things back. If you want your fighter to do well and be the best they can be then you should be telling them everything you know. That’s my philosophy on it and I’m really thankful for how well I’ve been able to do so far. I’m even more happier now that I’m able to pass my knowledge on and watch other guys succeed.”
Much akin to other sports, a good MMA coach isn’t required to be majorly accomplished in their own career, although it may help. A lot of the elite coaches in MMA often come from specific sporting backgrounds in wrestling, boxing, jiu-jitsu among others, but very few have successfully made the transition from an active position at the pinnacle of mixed martial arts.
The 26-year-old believes that although not a ‘significant disadvantage’, a coach’s inexperience to understand what their fighters are going through could be the definitive line between winning and losing in a high pressure match-up.
“I don’t think there’s too many off the top of my head, who are successful in the fighting and successful in the coaching,” claimed Loughnane. “It is hard to balance both, I’ve kind of found a happy medium with it.
“I definitely feel like, as a coach, if you’ve never competed at a high level, you can’t really tell the students what it feels like or what works and what doesn’t in there. Seeing as I’ve been there and done it, I know what works and what doesn’t work. I feel that’s what gives me the edge in my coaching.
“It’s not a significant disadvantage, I just think that, as a coach, when I’m stood in the back and I’m watching my guys warm up and I know where they are at in their head, I’ve been through this thing as many times myself and I know how to deal with many emotions on the day.“
The eighth ranked Lightweight in the UK and Ireland, he recalled his last fight at Full Contact Contender 15 where he fought and beat David Lee. It was the first time Brendan had simultaneously competed and cornered; an experience he has little urgency to do again anytime soon.
“Last time I fought on FCC when I fought David Lee, that’s the first time I’ve ever fought and had fighters on the card. I didn’t really enjoy that too much, I actually said to myself that I wasn’t going to be in the arena when the guys fought and let the other coaches take over, but I remember being sat in my house and I couldn’t do it.”
It’s evident that both fighting and coaching are eternally different in their preparation and execution. So much so, that Loughnane actually believes cornering is much more draining than fighting. One fight, followed by another, maybe more after that, having to go through that emotional process with people close to you would take an emotional toll on even the most steely-hearted of people.
Five months since he last stepped foot inside a cage, Loughnane will make his homecoming against Eden Newton on Saturday, August 13 at the inaugural Tanko Fighting Championships event. The event takes place in Loughnane’s backyard, the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester.
It’s been a turbulent period of inactivity for the FCC 155lb champion in recent months, he himself admitted that. Now with an opponent in his sights, a prime Loughnane – who is rumoured to have signed with Bellator MMA – believes he is fully equipped to test himself against the best talent from across the globe.
“The thing is, I’m 100% healthy, I’m ready to fight, I’m training my arse off, as I have done my whole life and I just feel like when you get to this top end of the rankings, people like to dodge each other and run around. I don’t know what’s going on. I’m out here, I’m willing to fight and I don’t know if half of the UKMMA scene are in the same boat.
“I’m 26 now, I’m not getting any younger and I feel like I’m in my prime and I hate sitting on the side-lines because you’ve only got a short window in MMA.
“I’m ready for that level, I’ve been there and trained with them guys [at Alliance MMA], I’ve been around the world, I’ve fought these guys. I did beat Tom Duquesnoy despite what happened and you’ve seen he’s pound-for-pound all over the world now, so come on, let’s have it right, I’m ready for that level.”
Also featuring on the Tanko FC card will be the return of Ultimate Fighter 22 competitor Saul Rogers, who takes on UKMMA veteran Andre Winner.
More information about next weekend’s Tanko event can be found here.