Alexandre Pantoja survives unusual Steve Erceg test in UFC 301 main event

Fighting on home soil, the Brazilian outpointed 10th-ranked Erceg, who had received a surprise title shot

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Monday 06 May 2024 17:41 BST
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Alexandre Pantoja retained his flyweight title against Steve Erceg at UFC 301 on Saturday, beating the surprise challenger via unanimous decision.

Tenth-ranked Erceg was a shock pick to challenge Pantoja, but the Australian pushed the Brazilian close on the latter’s home soil, with two of the scorecards reading 48-47. The final card was 49-46.

Erceg, 27, outstruck Pantoja in spells, but the challenger was also out-grappled for much of the fight.

With the result, 34-year-old Pantoja won a second straight title defence, having taken the belt from Brandon Moreno in July and retained it against Brandon Royval in December.

Meanwhile, the result marked the first loss of Erceg’s short UFC career. The Australian made his promotional debut in June and went 3-0 prior to fighting Pantoja, outpointing David Dvorak and Alessandro Costa then knocking out Matt Schnell.

In Saturday’s co-main event in Rio de Janeiro, featherweight legend Jose Aldo emerged from retirement to beat Jonathan Martinez on points at 135lbs.

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