Braden Pagaoa planning for a grimy fight at LFA 158

The theme so far in 2023 for Bradon Pagaoa has been a lack of activity.

Having been nine months since the last time Pagaoa has stepped into the cage, he’s eager to get back to action and start the ball rolling on his year.

“Had a little bit of a slow start to the year,” Pagaoa told “I haven’t fought since August, but I’ve been in camps, getting after it, and doing what I always do. I’ve been trying to better myself in all aspects of the game.”

If the time off has had any positive effect it’s been that Pagaoa has been able to work on his game and become a more fully developed fighter for his return to action this year.

“I think it’s clear to everyone where my holes are, and that would be the grappling department, but I’ve been working really hard on that and focusing on putting it all together,” said Pagaoa. “I’ve not just been focusing on grappling or striking, but being a (full-fledged) mixed martial artist.”

This Friday in Chandler, Arizona, Pagaoa (3-1) kicks off his 2023 versus Humberto Duarte (5-2) in a flyweight main card bout at LFA 158.

“I think in every fight I’m trying to make a statement,” Pagaoa said. “I want to put a stamp on it. I want to leave no doubt. I want to show something new. Every fight is the biggest fight of my life.

“(Duarte’s) a tough guy. He finishes people. It seems like he likes to stand and bang, which is what I like to do. I feel like I have to get in his face and make it ugly a little bit. I know I’m a very slick and moving striker, but I think he will be the mover this fight, so I’ll have to pressure a little bit more and make it grimy.”

The main thing moving forward for Pagaoa is not only to stay active to have the time to develop his game so that when he makes steps up in his career he is ready for them.

“I kind of like to take it as it comes,” said Pagaoa. “Being that I’m so young in the game, and just young period, I really like to take the time to develop between fights. I don’t want to be the same guy like in previous fights.

“I don’t mind short layoffs – I can’t be doing year-long layoffs or something like that – but short layoffs to fine-tune skills and get better in places I’m all for that.”