After UFC Vegas 34, should Alexandre Pantoja be next for Brandon Moreno?

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 34, we saw a pivotal matchup in the flyweight division. Alexandre Pantoja (23-5) was looking to pick up his second consecutive win while his opponent Brandon Royval (12-5) was looking to bounce back.

Pantoja entered the contest as the third ranked flyweight in the UFC. He’s had a very impressive run so far in his career with the promotion and this fight with Royval was a chance for him to make a statement about where he stands in the division.

The UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno (19-5-2) was in attendance as well so it made things even more intriguing. From the opening bell, this fight was all about Alexandre Pantoja.

He was able to control the fight and in the second round, he moved in for the kill. Pantoja was able to secure a dominant position on the back of Royval and locked in a rear naked choke.

Royval was forced to tap and Pantoja got the win at UFC Vegas 34. After the win, Pantoja called for a fight with Moreno and said that having defeated the champion previously, he should be next in line for the title.

Who should be next for the UFC’s flyweight title?

Pantoja does make an interesting argument. He’s ranked in the top three and he’s riding a two-fight win streak that should have him in the conversation for a UFC title shot.

That said, it might be a tough sell considering the two men that stand in front of him. Directly in front of him is Askar Askarov (13-0-1). Askarov and Pantoja just fought last year during the UFC’s first trip to Fight Island.

The Russian was able to defeat Pantoja be decision. Back in March, Askarov dominated Joseph Benavidez to pick up his third straight UFC victory. Like Pantoja, Askarov has also fought the champion. While Pantoja has a win over Moreno, Askarov fought him to a draw.

In front of Askarov is the former UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo (20-2-1). It’s crazy to think that if Figueiredo doesn’t land a kick that goes low, the UFC title picture at 125 would look completely different.

On the scorecards, Figueiredo would’ve defeated Brandon Moreno back in December. However, the deduction of a point due to the low kick caused the fight to end in a draw. In the immediate rematch, Moreno dominated and won the title.

Now, Figueiredo is calling for his rematch. The UFC is said to be considering it given how dominate Figueiredo was as champion. However, it’s far from a guarantee with Moreno leaning towards a new matchup after fighting Figueiredo two straight times.

I’m not sure what exactly is next at 125, but the flyweight division is incredibly intriguing right now. While Pantoja did look impressive over the weekend, I don’t believe he’s going to be next in line.

UFC Vegas 34 Preview: Alexandre Pantoja – Brandon Royval

Tomorrow night on the main card of UFC Vegas 34, we will see a tremendous matchup in the flyweight division. Two of the division’s most exciting top contenders will battle it out as Alexandre Pantoja (23-5) takes on Brandon Royval (12-5).

Pantoja ranks third in the UFC‘s flyweight division while Royval is sixth ahead of tomorrow night’s matchup. This is the first time we’ve seen Brandon Royval since UFC 255 when he took on Brandon Moreno. In hindsight, that fight was a title eliminator.

Royval started out the round well, but Moreno really turned things around at the mid-point. Near the end of the round, Royval suffered an injury and Moreno followed up to get the TKO victory. It was revealed that Royval tore his labrum in the fight.

While it’s certainly a serious injury, Royval is back at UFC Vegas 34 after just under nine months away. Standing in his way is one of the most dangerous contenders in the division in Alexandre Pantoja.

In his last seven fights, Pantoja is 5-2. One of those wins came against the current UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno. We last saw him in February when he defeated Manel Kape by decision.

UFC Vegas 34 Prediction

This flyweight matchup at UFC Vegas 34 is already being looked at as the Fight of The Night. Both men love to bring it and both have extremely exciting styles that should compliment each other.

Brandon Royval really showed out in 2020 prior to the Moreno fight. He defeated Kai Kara-France and former title challenger Tim Elliot and looked good doing it. Obviously, he has slick skills on the ground and he’s very fluid on his feet.

That said, his injury at UFC 255 concerns me. Nine months seems like a quick turn around for a labrum injury and we really don’t know how he’s going to look. We do know what were going to get from Pantoja.

Pantoja is one of the hardest hitters in the division and he’s extremely talented. The power he possesses might cause some hesitancy from Royval. That combined with Royval returning from injury and I just like Pantoja from an activity standpoint. I think it’s really fun, but I have Pantoja winning here.

Prediction: Alexandre Pantoja by Unanimous Decision

After falling short in UFC debut, what’s next for Manel Kape?

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 18, Manel Kape (15-5) made his highly anticipated debut. Many in the fight world believe that Kape is one of the very best flyweights in the world and he had his opportunity to show that on Saturday.

Kape was thrown straight into the deep end as he took on Alexandre Pantoja (23-5) at UFC Vegas 18. Pantoja entered as the fifth ranked flyweight in the world and he’s been in there with the likes of Deiveson Figueiredo, Brandon Moreno, and Askar Askarov.

Kape did look well in spots on Saturday night. I was very impressed with the accuracy of his punches and his footwork. Whenever Kape would move forward and actually throw shots, he was getting the better of Pantoja. The major reason was the accuracy.

However, Kape’s activity level was extremely low compared to Pantoja at UFC Vegas 18. While Kape was connecting at a higher percentage, Pantoja was throwing nearly twice as many shots. Because of the activity level, Pantoja bagged the first two rounds on all three scorecards.

In the third round, Kape finally picked up his pace. He moved forward more and landed some good shots. Kape even landed a takedown in the final minute which earned him the round on two of the scorecards. However, the damage was already done and he lost his UFC debut by unanimous decision.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 18?

Despite the loss in his UFC debut, expect Kape to appear in the top ten at flyweight when the rankings come out tomorrow. I believe he is one of the very best in the world, however, he fought one of the best in the world and came up short.

In all honesty, I believe that Kape can easily win that fight if he just upped his activity. His accuracy and his shots were very crisp on Saturday, he just didn’t do enough. However, I’m still very high on him and don’t expect the UFC to lose faith.

With Kape taking virtually no damage, I would expect a decently quick turnaround for him. Depending on the health of both men, I think a great next fight for the UFC to make would be a matchup with Brandon Royval (12-5).

Royval is coming off of a loss at UFC 255 which proved to be a title eliminator. Prior to that, he had won four in a row and he’s currently ranked sixth in the division. Both men are going to be in the top ten and both are coming off losses. I think this is a perfect matchup and an entertaining one for the UFC to make.

UFC 253 Recap: Israel Adesanya demolishes Paulo Costa to retain title

Tonight, the UFC returned to Fight Island to kick off a five week stint. The promotion was starting things out with a fight that Dana White was labeling as the potential fight of the year. UFC 253 was headlined by the middleweight title contest between Israel Adesanya (20-0) and Paulo Costa (13-1).

Fight Island got off to another good start for the UFC. Action was great from the prelims through the main card. Let’s take a dive into the fights from the main card of UFC 253.

Israel Adesanya retains UFC title in one sided main event

In the main event of the evening, we had the highly anticipated UFC middleweight contest between Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa. These two entered the octagon as unbeaten fighters both looking to show they were the best in the world.

As the main event of the evening got underway, Costa immediately took the center of the cage. Adesanya threw a big leg kick early that Costa waved on. Costa looked patient in the first minute of the fight as Adesanya kept landing leg kicks.

Costa landed a big leg kick of his own a minute into the fight. Adesanya was doing well early landing from the outside. Costa landed a massive body kick that Adesanya countered with a clean leg kick. A much more patient Paulo Costa in this one.

Adesanya continued to batter Costa’s lead leg. Halfway through the first, Costa waved Adesanya on with his hands down. Adesanya landed a clean jab followed by a leg kick. Costa tried to push forward with one his flurries, but Adesanya was no where to be found.

Adesanya continued to land brutal leg kicks and a big body kick. Costa smiled at everything that Adesanya would land. Both men were talking a lot to each other as the round ended. Clear first round for the champion.

As the second round started, Adesanya continued to pepper the lead leg. Costa seemed really tentative early on in the second round. Adesanya appeared to be snipping Costa every time Costa thought about coming in.

Costa landed two massive leg kicks to switch things up a minute in. Adesanya landed another big leg kick and a smooth jab behind it. Costa pushed forward but ate a leg kick and left hook from Adesanya. Adesanya went right back to work with leg kicks.

A massive headkick cut Costa and Adesanya went right back to kicking the legs. Costa wasn’t throwing his hands at all. A close quarters combination floors Costa. Adesanya follows with some big shots and it’s over. Adesanya proves that he’s the best in the world as he retains his UFC middleweight title.

Polish Power gives Blachowicz the UFC light heavyweight title

In the co-main event of the evening, Dominick Reyes (12-1) and Jan Blachowicz (26-8) went to war to determine who would be the new UFC light heavyweight champion. After Jon Jones vacated the title and left the division, the winner would be crowned the new UFC king of 205.

As the co-main event got underway, Blachowicz pushed forward with a calf kick. Reyes countered with a leg kick of his own. Both fighters were trading leg kicks early on. Reyes landed a body kick and two big lefts behind it.

Blachowicz just got out of the way of some big shots early on. Blachowicz was plotting forward and landed a big body kick. Reyes continued to look to score points from the outside. Both men appeared to be feeling the other out early on.

Blachowicz landed a couple of nice leg kicks. However, Reyes countered those with a good left hand. Reyes landed a good body kick with about two minutes left in the round. Blachowicz landed a giant left hook and he followed it with a huge body kick.

Reyes had a dark purple welt that was already forming around the ribs after some of Blachowicz’s kicks. Blachowicz was throwing with some serious power with everything early on. Close round, but I will give the first to Blachowicz with the damage.

Reyes pushed forward aggressively to start the second round. Blachowicz seemed really calm as he started pushing forward with power shots of his own. Reyes was light on his feet, but seemed really tentative after a big combination from Blachowicz.

Blachowicz came forward with another big combination which he finished with a smooth right hand. Every time Blachowicz landed, it seemed to effect Reyes. Blachowicz landed a few big hooks that seemed to stagger Reyes for a moment.

Reyes did start to pick up the pace with about two minutes left in the round. Blachowicz kept pushing forward with massive combinations that appeared to hurt Reyes. Both men started trading massive shots and a massive shot drops Reyes.

Blachowicz follows up with a few big shots and it’s over. Jan Blachowicz is the new UFC light heavyweight champion of the world. A masterful performance from Jan Blachowicz who calls out Jon Jones after the fight.

Brandon Royval subs Kara-France in a classic

The third fight of the UFC 253 main card featured a flyweight contest between Brandon Royval (12-4) and Kai Kara-France (21-9, 1 NC). After making a successful UFC debut back in May, Royval was trying to make it two in a row. Kara-France was also looking to make it two a row in the UFC following a loss to Brandon Moreno.

As the first round got underway, Royval opened with a headkick. Royval kept looking for a headkick early, but Kara-France dropped him with a right hand. Kara-France pushed forward and dropped Royval again. However, Royval dropped Kara-France coming in with a back fist.

A scramble found the two on the ground with Kara-France on top. However, Royval was able to use some submission attempts to gain top control. Kara-France was able to use another scramble to get the fight back to the feet.

Once they were back on their feet, Royval was pushing forward with headkicks and spinning attacks. Royval then dropped Kara-France with a big knee and looked for a guillotine. Kara-France was able to pop his head free and land on top. Royval used a sweep to get back to his feet.

Royval kept pushing forward and pressuring Kara-France. However, Kara-France landed a massive right hand that stopped his momentum. After stopping for a second, Royval kept pushing forward. Although Kara-France dropped Royval early, Royval takes the first round on my scorecard.

As the second round got going, Royval continued to look to strike from distance. He was really putting everything together early in the second. Kara-France looked to be weathered as Royval continued to press forward.

A gassed Kara-France shot for a takedown, but landed right into a guillotine. It’s tight and Kara-France is forced to tap. A massive victory inside the UFC for Brandon Royval.

Ketlen Vieira outpoints Sijara Eubanks

The second fight of the UFC 253 main card featured a women’s bantamweight contest between Ketlen Vieira (10-2) and Sijara Eubanks (6-5). Vieira was looking to bounce back from her first UFC loss while Eubanks was trying to win her third straight including two in the past two weeks.

As the first round started, Vieira pushed forward immediately and got into a clinch position. Eubanks did a good job of turning around Vieira and pressing her against the fence. The two separated after the brief clinch.

Eubanks did a good job of landing early especially considering the disadvantage in size. Vieira looked much slower in the standup exchanges early, and she kept looking to force a clinch. Eubanks did a good job defending and broke again with a nice uppercut.

Halfway through the round, both ladies pushed forward and exchanged big shots in the pocket. Eubanks landed a good shot over the top, but Vieira countered nicely with a straight shot. Vieira really started finding her range late in round one. She also landed a takedown late which clinches round one for Vieira.

As the second round got underway, Vieira looked to continue to work off her jab. The two fighters came close in an exchange and Vieira used the close quarters to land a trip takedown. Eubanks worked back to the fence to try and use it to get up.

However, Vieira was doing a really good job of controlling Eubanks from the top. The referee decided to stand the fighters up with about half the round remaining. Eubanks tried to push forward with big shots.

Vieira was doing a very good job of catching Eubanks with clean shots on the exit. Eubanks landed a pretty nice side kick to the body and followed that up with a solid right hand. Vieira landed a pretty good 1-2. Less action in round two, but I give the round to Vieira.

Both fighters touched gloves as the final round started. Eubanks had a sense of urgency knowing she was down two rounds. Vieira was looking to work off her jab as Eubanks was pushing forward. Eubanks pushed forward and landed a big left hook which caused Vieira to look to clinch.

A big headkick landed for Eubanks and she followed it up with a big hook. Both of these ladies were trading serious leather in the third round. Vieira continued to really land some stiff jabs. Halfway through the final round, Eubanks did a good job coming over the top with a clean 1-2.

Again, both women landed big shots in close with about two minutes left. 90 second left in the round, and Eubanks lands a big shot to the body. Eubanks was doing much better in the third round. A late scramble found Eubanks on top at the end of the round.

I gave the final round to Eubanks, but the fight goes to Vieira on my scorecard. The judges scored the fight (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) for Ketlen Vieira. Vieira gets back in the win column inside the UFC after losing her first fight back in December.

Hakeem Dawodu edges Zubaira Tukhugov

Kicking off the UFC 253 main card was a featherweight contest between Hakeem Dawodu (12-1-1) and Zubaira Tukhugov (19-5-1). Tukhugov missed weight badly for this contest coming in at 150 pounds. Dawodu was looking to make it his fifth straight UFC victory.

As the first round started, Dawodu came forward with leg kicks. Both men seemed to be feeling the other out throughout the first minute of the fight. After the initial feeling out period, Tukhugov caught Dawodu with a clean left counter.

Two minutes into the first round, the action started to pick up a bit, but both men were still tentative. Dawodu kept throwing leg kicks, but wasn’t throwing much else. Tukhugov kept pushing forward with a few 1-2s.

A ton of respect was being shown by both men, but Tukhugov was getting the better of the exchanges early. Dawodu ripped a good body shot, but Tukhugov countered with some good shots. Slower first round that I lean towards Tukhugov.

As the second round started, both men looked a little more energetic. Dawodu opened with a spinning back kick and a nice leg kick. Tukhugov came forward with a shot from the outside, but Dawodu countered with a clean 1-2 on the exit.

Dawodu was doing a much better job of opening up in the second. Tukhugov then started finding a good amount of success with a counter left hook and uppercut combo. These two seemed content with just standing and trading in relatively close quarters.

With two minutes left in the round, both men threw everything into shots at the other. Tukhugov had a nice level change which he used to try to take Dawodu down, but Dawodu defended very well.

Dawodu was doing a better job of landing clean shots as the second round went on. However, with one minute left in the round, Tukhugov landed a nice takedown. Dawodu was getting the better of the striking, but with a takedown and minute of top control, I give the second to Tukhugov.

As the final round got underway, Tukhugov’s pace seemed to have slowed down. Dawodu kept looking for leg kicks from the outside. A minute into the round, Tukhugov landed a nice left and check left hook. However, Dawodu’s leg kicks were starting to add up on Tukhugov.

Two minutes in, Tukhugov shot forward for a couple of takedowns, but couldn’t land one. Dawodu landed a flush left hook which caused Tukhugov to shoot for another takedown. Dawodu was really starting to take over in the standup.

Tukhugov worked hard for a takedown, but he couldn’t land it. Tukhugov looked tired with about a minute and a half left. Dawodu landed a big shot to the body and followed that up with pointing to ground.

Tukhugov was gassing and Dawodu was really starting to show his swagger. Dawodu was putting his hands down and screaming at Tukhugov in the final minute. Clear final round for Dawodu, but I lean Tukhugov 29-28. In the end, the judges scored the fight (30-27, 29-28, 28-29) for Dawodu. A fifth straight UFC victory for Dawodu.