In the co-main event of UFC 290, the flyweight title was on the line. Current flyweight champion Brandon Moreno (21-6-2) was looking to defend his title as he takes on a familiar foe in Alexandre Pantoja (25-5).
Brandon Moreno has spent the better part of the last three years in a war with Deiveson Figueiredo for the flyweight title. One interim title win over Kai Kara-France thrown in the middle there. In their series which concluded back in January, Moreno went 2-1-1 in four fights.
While he’s finally done with Figgy, tonight, he faced another Brazilian who he has a ton of history against. Alexandre Pantoja and Brandon Moreno first fought on The Ultimate Fighter with Pantoja submitting and eliminating Moreno. They then fought back in 2018 with Pantoja winning a dominant decision which led to Moreno being cut by the UFC because the promotion was thinning the flyweight division.
Now, in 2023, they fight again. Pantoja has won three fights in a row including finishes over Brandon Royval and Alex Perez to earn this shot against Moreno.
UFC 290 Recap
The UFC 290 flyweight title fight kicks off with a touch of the gloves. Pantoja immediately pushes forward with a big combination. Moreno gets a body lock and pushes Pantoja up against the fence. Heavy cage pressure here from Moreno and he lands a nice knee to the thigh.
Pantoja looks for the underhooks but Moreno is doing a great job of just controlling him here. Pantoja explodes out of the clinch and lands a knee. Left hook for Moreno. Huge 1-2 for Moreno. Lead uppercut now from Moreno. Straight jab now from Pantoja and Moreno answers with a combination.
Huge left hook from Pantoja drops Moreno. Brief crucifix on the ground by Pantoja and he lands a nasty elbow that opens him up. Pantoja moving through the guard here and Moreno is trying to get back to his feet. Moreno is back up and there’s 90 seconds left.
1-2 now from the champ and an uppercut. Huge left hook lands for Pantoja and that stood the champion up. Left hook now from Moreno and these two are going after it. Moreno looks hurt here. Head kick attempt from Pantoja and after a scramble he gets the back of Moreno against the fence. The round ends and it’s 1-0 Pantoja at UFC 290.
Moreno needs to get some respect back as the second round begins here at UFC 290. Pantoja plots forward to start the second. Huge combinations from Pantoja and he’s throwing everything into these shots. Moreno staying composed and now he lands his own 1-2.
Long jab from Moreno snaps Pantoja’s head back. Pantoja is not fighting smart right now he’s going to gas himself out. Moreno is starting to land more here and Pantoja is already slowing down. Big right hand now from Pantoja but Moreno lands a huge jab. Big counter left for the champion.
Left hook for Moreno and now Moreno gets the back of Pantoja. Pantoja is dragged to the ground by Moreno and he has his back looking for the choke. Three minutes left to work in a dominant spot for Brandon Moreno. Pantoja scrambles but Moreno stays on top just no longer on the back.
Another scramble and they’re back on the feet. Huge left hand for Moreno and Pantoja looks wobbly. Not sure if he’s hurt or if he’s just exhausted. 90 seconds left and Moreno is just stalking him here. Two straight lefts now from Moreno. Front kick up the middle just misses for Pantoja. Massive sequence at the end where both men land big shots. The UFC champion gets that round.
Entering the third at UFC 290 and it’s all square but Moreno definitely looks like the fresher fighter. Pantoja tries to explode and start strong but lands a knee to the cup which pauses the action briefly. Back at it and Pantoja is holding the center.
Pantoja gets a body lock and they are on the ground. Pantoja gets his back and Moreno tries to scramble but Pantoja locks in the body triangle. Four minutes to work and a very dominant position for the challenger to start the third round. Moreno is doing a good job of hand fighting as Pantoja looks for the choke.
Moreno scrambles and now he gets on top of Pantoja. He steps back and lets Pantoja back up to his feet. Pantoja has a nasty gash over his eye now. Three straight lefts land for Moreno. Now a massive left for Pantoja. Uppercut for Pantoja and a head kick from Moreno.
Big combination from Moreno and his speed is a huge advantage here. Another head kick from Moreno and a left wobbles Pantoja. Pantoja goes for a takedown with 90 seconds left in the round. Moreno shrugs him off but Pantoja goes right back in and gets a big takedown.
Another scramble and now Moreno gets top position. Pantoja scrambles and they are back on the feet with 30 seconds left. Uppercut now for Pantoja. Both men trade left hooks. Combination from Pantoja and the round ends. Pantoja might’ve won that one with the takedowns, but that could’ve gone either way.
Entering the championship rounds at UFC 290 and this is an absolute war. Both men trade jabs to start things out. Three straight lefts land for the champion. Both men trade big left hooks in the center. These two are still going after it. Uppercut for Pantoja and now Moreno lands a combination.
Uppercut and a leg kick lands for Pantoja. Big combinations from both men and Moreno might’ve gotten hurt there. Huge elbow now from Moreno and Pantoja gets a takedown. Moreno scrambles and now he’s up but Pantoja is still holding him against the fence with three minutes left in the round.
Heavy cage pressure from Pantoja. Moreno tries to break free but Pantoja drags him back to the ground. Pantoja is in side control here and Moreno forces another scramble. Moreno gets back up, but Pantoja jumps on his back. Moreno shrugs him off, but Pantoja is still holding back control. 90 seconds left in the round and Pantoja is in control here.
Pantoja drags him back to the ground and he’s trying to attack an arm triangle. However, Moreno gets the top position. They scramble and Moreno gets back up. Big elbow from Moreno as the round ends. I have it 3-1 Pantoja at UFC 290 but it could easily by 2-2.
Entering the final round and Moreno might need a finish or a massive round to retain at UFC 290. Moreno takes the center to start the final round. 30 seconds in and nothing has been thrown as both men are very cautious. Big jabs from both. Pantoja lands a big left and Moreno lands a jab.
Big uppercut for Pantoja and now he lands a left. Moreno answers back with a left hand of his own. Power jab from Pantoja and he lands a left hook. These two are just swinging in the center of the octagon. Three minutes left and they both trade left hands.
Nice jab from Pantoja and Moreno lands a nice body shot. Huge left hand for Moreno. Halfway through the round and this round is up for grabs. Pantoja pushes forward with a combination. Two minutes left and Pantoja gets a big takedown. Moreno is desperate to get back to his feet.
He gets back up but Pantoja is on his back. 90 seconds left in the round and Pantoja has a very dominant position here. Pantoja lands a couple of shots as he’s trying to soften up Moreno. One minute left and things are looking good for the challenger.
Pantoja trying to lock in a choke here. Pantoja is squeezing here but doesn’t have his arm under the chin. 20 seconds left and Moreno might need a miracle here. The fight ends and I think we have a new flyweight champion.
Alexandre Pantoja def. Brandon Moreno by Split Decision (46-49, 48-47, 48-47)