Brendan Loughnane has his sights set on PFL featherweight champion Lance Palmer.
The Manchester featherweight will face former UFC fighter Sheymon Moraes on Friday night at PFL 1 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Loughnane, 31, signed with the Professional Fighters League in 2019 after competing on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series for the second time.
When Daniel Pineda pulled out of his title fight with Palmer after testing positive for a banned substance, the PFL were left searching for a new opponent, and Loughnane threw his name into the mix as a potential replacement to step up and face Palmer.
Ultimately, the PFL chose Alex Gilpin instead, and Palmer won a unanimous decision over Gilpin to win the PFL's 2019 featherweight championship and the $1 million prize that came with it.
But that did little to stop the two from engaging in a war of words in the pre-fight build-up over the past few month prior to the PFL's upcoming 2021 season.
Asked to share some thoughts on the two-time world champion, Loughnane exclusively told GIVEMESPORT: "There's no beef, it's just that all my English mates keep terrorising his Instagram. But it's just a fight that I really want.
"Why wouldn't I want to fight the champion? What else was the point of entering the competition?
"I actually think he's got a tough fight with Bubba Jenkins. He's got a really hard first fight in this tournament. So let's see if he even gets through that one first."
Loughnane is currently 19-3 in his mixed martial arts career, having made a name for himself on the regional circuit. That being said, he's easily one of, if not the best British fighters outside of the UFC right now that some fans possibly may not have heard of.
If you're a diehard MMA fan, then you should definitely know who he is, but for all of the casual fans out there, you may recognise a couple of his childhood friends...
"Jesse grew up on the road next to me, me and his brother and his dad are extremely close," he continued. "I was at their house every day playing football and chilling, and then I'm really close to Marcus's brothers, Dane and Dwayne, they're really good friends of mine.
"And you know, they all look out for me, I'm always supporting them. You've probably seen the videos of them watching my fight on the Contender Series going crazy and like that, you know, they just look after their own. We're all from the same place. We're all trying to push forward in sport.
"I was sponsored by Jesse's brand for a year, we still keep in regular contact, and the guys are killing it. I'm so happy for Jesse right now. He's had a new lease of life at West Ham, I'm so happy for him."
Loughnane also revealed that he will train with Conor McGregor ahead of the former UFC lightweight champion's trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier at UFC 264.
The 32-year-old Irishman is currently training at the UFC Performance Institute in Abu Dhabi. "The Notorious" hasn't fought since his shock defeat to Poirier at the start of the year.
But Loughnane says he has been speaking to McGregor, who himself is only a couple of months away from a return to the Octagon, about training together in Las Vegas - even teasing that he will mimic Poirier's fighting style.
"We're probably going to be training together for the next fight with [Dustin] Poirier with a bit of luck. So that's probably what's going to happen next.
"I don't know. I don't know. I'm hoping so. I mean, we've been in a bit of contact about training very recently. So I'll be going out there. That would be ideal to train in [Las] Vegas, all my fights are in the States this year as well.
"So hopefully, we'll cross paths in training. That'd be amazing for me, and, you know, I'm sure I can give them a good look for Poirier as well."News Now - Sport News