MMA community in disbelief after Alexandre Pantoja’s UFC 301 title bout opponent revealed: “Got the gold ticket”

The UFC’s flyweight division was on the verge of being scrapped by the promotion but has now become one of the most exciting divisions in the promotion with Alexandre Pantoja as the reigning undisputed champion. With Pantoja as the champion, the UFC will be looking to make exciting fights in the division.

The question looms: who will step up to challenge the Brazilian champion next? Could it be Amir Albazi, Muhammad Mokaev, or Steve Erceg? Notably, all three contenders boast undefeated records in the UFC.

UFC 301: Alexandre Pantoja vs Steve Erceg

The UFC recently announced the first title fight for UFC 301 and it is a flyweight title fight between Alexandre Pantoja and Steve Erceg as per MMAFighting. Pantoja, who won the title from Brandon Moreno at UFC 290, defended it against Brandon Royval at UFC 296. Incidentally, Pantoja had already beaten Moreno and Royval before he became the champion.

On the other hand, Steve Erceg, a 27-year-old professional boasting a 12-1 record from Australia, has garnered a flawless 3-0 record in the UFC, accompanied by 2 Performance of the Night bonuses. Erceg showcased his prowess in the main card opener of UFC Vegas 87, the latest UFC Fight Night, where he secured victory over Matt Schnell with a devastating one-punch knockout. Interestingly, Erceg made his UFC debut at UFC 289 as a short-notice replacement for Schnell against David Dvorak.

UFC 301 will be at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro where Pantoja will be the hometown favorite, which is a significant contrast from his previous two fights. It is not certain whether the fight between Pantoja and Erceg will headline the PPV. Pantoja’s original plan was to fight Brandon Moreno at UFC 301 but Moreno lost to Brandon Royval at UFC Mexico City.

Alex Pereira had already revealed his plans to headline UFC 301 but the Brazilian will be headlining UFC 300 against Jamahal Hill, a month before. Incidentally, the UFC’s previous PPV in Brazil had a light heavyweight main event and a flyweight co-main event.

UFC fighters react to Alexandre Pantoja vs Steve Erceg bout

The announcement of Steve Erceg as the next opponent for Alexandre Pantoja was a surprise to many considering that Amir Albazi and Muhammad Mokaev had a higher winning streak and are ranked higher than Erceg, who is ranked 10th.

Mokaev, who fought on UFC Vegas 87 with Erceg, voiced his displeasure about it on X as he tweeted that he has more finishes than Erceg has fought in the UFC. For context, Erceg is 3-0 in the UFC with a single finish whereas Mokaev is 6-0 in the UFC with four finishes.

Sean O’Malley, who recently defended his bantamweight title at UFC 299, expressed his surprise as he tweeted, “Who” Pantoja had earlier expressed interest in fighting for O’Malley’s bantamweight title, citing a past sparring session rivalry.

Renato Moicano, a Brazilian UFC lightweight, tweeted that Pantoja had already cleaned out the division and thus the 10th-ranked Erceg got the nod. Moreover, he predicted a finish for his fellow Brazilian against the Australian fighter.

Do you think Steve Erceg will upset Alexandre Pantoja at UFC 301? Leave your prediction below!


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