Caolan Loughran outlines his 2024 UFC plans as he aims to comeback from first loss

Last year saw a resurgence of Irish MMA fighters in the UFC, with one man from Tyrone standing out at 135 pounds.

It has been a turbulent 12 months for Caolan Loughran, who became the Cage Warriors bantamweight champion back in May, before being signed by the UFC.

For someone who loves the chaos that comes with fighting, his UFC debut was against French opposition in Paris, where he suffered his first professional loss to Taylor Lapilus.

Now preparing to face Angel Pacheco in Atlantic City on March 30th, Loughran spoke to Breakingnews about how preparations are going for the fight, and how his first loss affected him.

“It is going absolutely phenomenal, I was in Phoinex Arizona for the whole month of January. I was training with Henry Cejudo, who is fighting this weekend.

“He put me in an apartment out there, just up the road from his gym. I was training with those guys for three and a half weeks, just to mix it up with new guys, and get a feel with elite level UFC Bantamweights. I took a lot from that technically, but more so just confidence, to show where I am at and a great start to the camp.

“They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. I went training with Henry Cejudo, someone I looked up to big time, but I wasn’t going there to make friends. I was going there for myself.

“In my opinion, I have the best coaches in the world. Tom Aspinall, who won a UFC title, took him from amateur. Darren Till who was in the UFC, took him from amateur.

“Over here in Liverpool, it just flicks a switch in my head for some reason. I just associate it with hard work and high-level MMA. When I am in camp, I am on it.


The confidence Loughran has is clear for all to see. Not being content with just being in the UFC, he is aiming to be successful in one of the toughest divisions in the sport.

Despite his success, Loughran knows what he is capable of, but is also grateful for how his career has turned out.

“I would say I am halfway off what I have dreamed of. If I didn’t think I was going to make it to the UFC, I swear on my life I wouldn’t have pursued this career. If I didn’t think I could be UFC champion I wouldn’t have continued it.

“Even on a loss, I genuinely believe I can beat anyone. The last year has been class. I am now 27, but I worked a full-time job when I was from 17 to 21. I worked on a building site, then in an engineering firm in a office.

“For me to be waking up on a Monday morning in preparation for  UFC fight, I’m so grateful. It’s been a great year, but I expect 2024 to be a completely different ball game.”

Bouncing back

For the first time in his career, Loughran is preparing for a bout after a defeat.

The Tyrone man holds himself to high standards, and admitted even in victory, he hasn’t been happy with his performances.

However, in taking inspiration from UFC champions he looks up to, Loughran knows setbacks are part of the journey to becoming champion.

“It was very close, I don’t dispute the decision, I wasn’t salty. I know this sport, I know this happens to every single person. There is literally three bantamweights in my division who haven’t lost in the UFC.

“Regardless of the outcomes, even when I won the Cage Warriors title, I can’t watch that back. I was really unhappy with that performance. You have to treat them as losses the whole way up I feel.

“If you are not evolving in this game, you are dead really, because the guy is going to be studying your last fight, you have to add to your skill set.

“Mentality wise, I am probably back to when I was 18 or 19, feeling like I have something to prove. I’m an ultra winner, I hate losing anything. I have been a winner since I was a kid. Going into the UFC I never lost a round.

“Probably for a month or so, I wasn’t myself, just floating about.”

“Two of my favourite fighters in the UFC are Dustin Poirier, I don’t know how many times he talks about the journey, he has lost seven times. Alexander Volkanovski, he lost twice last year.

Irish in MMA

Loughran outlined his plans for what could be a special 2024 for not just him, but a number of Irish fighters.

Also on the Atlantic City card is fellow Irish fighter Rhys McKee. With Ian Machado Garry set to fight in UFC 298, and Shauna Bannon also set to fight this year, should results go the right way, it could become very difficult for the UFC to ignore a Dublin card later this year, something the Tyrone fighter would be thrilled to be part of.

“I have to take it one fight at a time. My goal this year is to go three fights in the UFC and get three wins. I don’t care about names too much, because if I get three wins in the UFC, I know I will be sitting myself up big time.

“It will be special to be part of UFC Dublin. I was in school for McGregor v Brandao, I couldn’t afford a ticket but wanted to go. I remember watching it like it was yesterday.

“If you were to tell me back then that I was going to be part of the next batch of guys to be in UFC Dublin, that would literally be a dream come true.

“The participation levels in the sport still aren’t particularly high, but the fandom is, it’s really, really big. If I go through Belfast, MMA is huge, I’m sure it’s even bigger in Dublin.”


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