The Cannibal sees off Erceg at UFC 301

mma05 May 2024 06:37| © Backpage TXT

Alexandre ‘The Cannibal’ Pantoja saw off the challenge of Steve Erceg with a unanimous decision triumph in the flyweight championship main event of UFC 301 at the Farmasi Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on the morning of Sunday 5 May.

The Brazilian – fighting in his home country for the first time in 10 years – put in a gritty performance in which he consistently closed the distance to the challenger, earning a couple of nasty cuts above his eyes in the process, but ultimately taking the fight 48-47 48-47 49-46 on the score cards thanks to his persistent takedowns and haymaker punches.

“I think I need to move my head more. These guys are hitting me too much," Pantoja said in his post-fight interview. "I think I need a little bit of a break. I've fought three times in the past year.”

A dejected Erceg told UFC commentator Daniel Cormier: “I was surprised how well he could scramble. I usually beat guys there so it was a shock. I thought if I could win the last round I'd at least give myself a chance. I blew it.”

The rest of the main card saw veteran Jose Aldo claim a unanimous decision triumph over fellow bantamweight Jonathan Martinez and hint at another title run; Anthony Smith and Michel Pereira both claimed submission wins over Vitor Pedrino (light heavyweight) and Ihor Potieria (middleweight) respectively; and Caio Borralho stopped Paul Craig in the second round of their middleweight opener.

The UFC continues next weekend with a Fight Night set for the Enterprise Centre in St. Louis, Missouri, on the morning of Sunday 12 May, headlined by a heavyweight bout between Rodrigo Nascimento and Derrick Lewis.

UFC 301 – Main card results

- Main event: Flyweight championship: Alexandre Pantoja def. Steve Erceg via unanimous decision (48-47 48-47 49-46), R5, 5:00

- Bantamweight: Jose Aldo def. Jonathan Martinez via unanimous decision (30-27 30-27 30-27), R3, 5:00

- Light heavyweight: Anthony Smith def. Vitor Pedrino via submission (guillotine choke), R1, 2:00

- Middleweight: Michel Pereira def. Ihor Potieria via submission (guillotine choke), R1, 0:54

- Middleweight: Caio Borralho def. Paul Craig via KO (punches), R2, 2:10