UFC 301 Main Event Preview and Prediction: Alexandre Pantoja – Steve Erceg

MMA: UFC 296 - Pantoja vs Royval
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow night in the main event of UFC 301, the flyweight title is on the line. The champion Alexandre Pantoja (27-5) will be fighting in front of his home country as he takes on the surprising challenger in tenth ranked Steve Erceg (12-1).

It’s not often you see someone ranked tenth in a division get a title shot, but here we are. Erceg gets this title shot on the heels of his big time knockout win over Matt Schnell two months ago. It was just his third fight inside the octagon but thus far he’s been perfect and he’s going for gold tomorrow night.

To win gold, he’ll have to defeat the champion in his own backyard. Alexandre Pantoja was 6-3 in his first nine UFC fights. After a loss to Askar Askarov, he took things to another level. Three straight wins over the likes of Alex Perez, Brandon Royval, and Manel Kape earned him a title shot against Brandon Moreno last year.

He defeated Moreno by decision to become the champion and then he had a rematch with Royval at UFC 296 for his first title defense. Pantoja won a lopsided decision that night and tomorrow night he’ll try to make it two successful title defenses.

UFC 301 Prediction

When it comes to the main event tomorrow night, Alexandre Pantoja is a sizable betting favorite. Not because he’s that much better than Erceg, but I think there are a lot of unknowns regarding the flyweight contender from Australia. I’ll tell you one thing about him, he can strike. He’s got very good power and crisp striking. He’s very solid in all areas, but I’m not sure that’ll be enough.

Pantoja has big power and we know how fast he is. That said, he has a big weapon in this fight that I think will play and that’s his wrestling. I don’t think it’s his first choice, but I think he’ll be able to consistently take Erceg down at UFC 301. Should he not be thrilled with the striking, I can see him just switching up to his grappling.

Once the fight is on the ground, I don’t think Erceg will be able to get back up with the strong top game of Pantoja. I’m not sure we see a finish, but I think we see the champion retain in a comfortable decision at UFC 301.

Prediction: Alexandre Pantoja by Decision

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