UFC 301: Pantoja Clinches Bloody Victory Over Erceg

"Pantoja Defends Title in a Gritty Showdown"

Epic Showdown in Rio

Flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja successfully defended his title against challenger Steve Erceg in a grueling five-round battle at UFC 301 in Rio de Janeiro. Pantoja, performing before his home crowd, faced tough competition from the Australian contender. From the onset, Pantoja established a furious pace, with Erceg proving his ability to match the intensity, despite his relatively short tenure in the UFC.

A Fight Marked by Blood and Strategy

The match saw its first blood when Erceg started bleeding due to an unintentional headbutt, a fact confirmed by instant replay. Despite the injury, Pantoja kept pushing aggressively, but Erceg began to time his elbows effectively by the third round, one of which opened a significant wound on Pantoja’s head. The champion bled profusely but remained relentless in his offensive.

Momentum Shifts

As the fight progressed, Erceg’s confidence surged with his striking skills appearing to edge out Pantoja’s. In the later rounds, Erceg took the lead, appearing fresher and more aggressive. However, some critical grappling errors allowed Pantoja to regain his foothold and swing the momentum back in his favor.

Decisive Final Round

The fifth round was crucial, with both fighters having potential claims to victory. Despite bleeding more as the fight continued, Pantoja exploited Erceg’s grappling mistakes again and finished the match in a dominant top position. His ability to control the mat played a pivotal role in swaying the judges, who awarded him the victory by unanimous decision after five intense rounds. Pantoja extended his win streak to six consecutive victories, including three title defenses.


Full Fight Card Results

  • Flyweight Title Match: Alexandre Pantoja def. Steve Erceg by unanimous decision (48–47, 48–47, 49–46)
  • Bantamweight: José Aldo def. Jonathan Martinez by unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 30–27)
  • Light Heavyweight: Anthony Smith def. Vitor Petrino by submission (guillotine) Round 1, 5:00 PM
  • Middleweight: Michel Pereira def. Ihor Potieria by submission (guillotine) – Round 1, 5:54 PM
  • Middleweight: Caio Borralho def. Paul Craig by KO (punch) – Round 2, 7:10 PM
  • Featherweight: Joanderson Brito def. Jack Shore by TKO (doctor stoppage) – Round 2, 8:35 PM
  • Women’s Strawweight: Iasmin Lucindo def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 30–27)
  • Lightweight: Myktybek Orolbai def. Elves Brener by unanimous decision (29–27, 29–27, 29–27)
  • Lightweight: Drakkar Klose def. Joaquim Silva by unanimous decision (29–28, 29–28, 29–28)
  • Early Prelims
  • Lightweight: Maurício Ruffy def. Jamie Mullarkey by TKO (punch) – Round 1, 9:42 PM
  • Women’s Flyweight: Dione Barbosa def. Ernesta Kareckaite by unanimous decision (29–28, 29–28, 29–28)
  • Lightweight: Ismael Bonfim def. Vinc Pichel by unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 30–27)
  • Flyweight: Alessandro Costa def. Kevin Borjas by TKO (punch) – Round 2, 6:35 PM

This victory not only solidifies Pantoja’s status as a formidable flyweight champion but also highlights his resilience and tactical acumen in overcoming adversity, securing his place among the elite in the UFC.

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