Brandon Royval, a professional fighter, has high praise for his fellow bantamweight Youssef Zalal. He believes Zalal is one of the best fighters at Factory X, despite not getting the recognition he deserves.
Royval, with a record of 15-6, is preparing to face Alexandre Pantoja in the co-main event at UFC 296. This event is set to take place on December 16 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Known as “Raw Dawg,” Royval has been training with top bantamweight contenders like Chris Gutierrez and Jonathan Martinez. They all train at the Factory X gym in Colorado. However, Royval insists that Youssef Zalal, a former UFC fighter, is likely the best among them.
Royval credits his success to training with the best bantamweights, including Zalal. He says, “Being on the rise with some of these guys is – like I genuinely don’t think I’d be where I’m at without having the best 135ers around me. And that’s including Youssef Zalal. Youssef Zalal is probably better than all of us, it’s just that he’s not getting his opportunity yet.”
Zalal was let go by the UFC after a streak of 0-3-1. This streak began with a decision loss against featherweight contender Ilia Topuria. Topuria is scheduled to face Alexander Volkanovski for the title at UFC 298 on February 17.
Despite his release, Zalal has made a comeback with three consecutive first-round stoppage wins under the Sparta Combat League banner. Both Royval and Zalal believe that the 27-year-old will be re-signed by the UFC. Royval also thinks that Zalal, who fought at 145 pounds for most of his UFC career, is better suited as a bantamweight. He expects Zalal to make an impact in that division when he returns to the Las Vegas-based promotion.
Royval recalls cornering Zalal in his fight against Topuria, where Zalal managed to win a round. He says, “I know, he won a round against [Topuria] for sure, f—ing wobbled him. Yeah, I was cornering him for that fight. But that being said, that kid’s super talented and I can’t wait to see when he gets back in the UFC and he gets put in the bantamweight division, he’s gonna take that division by storm quick.”