Alexandre Pantoja Defeats Steve Erceg, Keeps Flyweight Title at UFC 301

Alexandre Pantoja just extended his rule over the UFC flyweight division. But, oh boy, did he earn his stripes in that cage.

“The Cannibal” wasn’t just biting; he was all over the place with his skills and big-match vibe. He kept his 125-pound crown safe against Steve Erceg, the Aussie challenger, at UFC 301. This showdown happened in Rio, at the buzzing Farmasi Arena. Pantoja’s win was unanimous, with scores that read like a close-knit tale: 48-47, 48-47, and 49-46. That’s his sixth win in a row, folks. A real slugfest it was.

Erceg, though? The guy walked in riding high on an 11-fight win streak. And even in defeat, his stock went up. He managed to slice Pantoja not once, but twice, with some sharp elbow moves. Those cuts? One on the scalp and another near the right eye. But Pantoja, he kept pressing, targeting Erceg’s body, and shining in the grappling bits. Nine takedowns and almost six minutes of control time – that’s how you do it. Midway through the final round, Pantoja flipped the script, countering a takedown, and unleashed some ground-and-pound. Star moment, right there.

Switching gears, let’s talk about Jose Aldo. The UFC hall of famer stepped out of retirement and straight into a win against Jonathan Martinez. This was in the bantamweight co-main event. All three judges were nodding in agreement, scoring it 30-27 for Aldo. This was his first fight since a loss to Merab Dvalishvili back in August 2022.

Martinez seemed a bit overwhelmed, maybe even starstruck. Aldo was relentless, bombarding him with punches and those signature leg kicks. By the third round, Aldo had built a fortress of a lead. Then came a left hook that had Martinez wobbling, followed by a takedown and some strategic ground-and-pound. Martinez’s six-fight winning streak? Ended.

Now, onto Anthony Smith and Vitor Petrino’s light heavyweight clash. Smith, the former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder, snagged a win with a guillotine choke in the second round. Petrino, a hopeful from Dana White’s Contender Series, had to tap out two minutes into Round 2. Smith met Petrino’s aggression with heavy leg kicks and then exploited a mistake. Petrino went for a double-leg takedown but left his neck exposed. Smith didn’t miss the chance, clinching the first guillotine choke submission of his career.

Michel Pereira, the dynamo from Overcome Academy, also made headlines. He finished Ihor Potieria with a guillotine choke in their middleweight bout. Potieria, stepping in for Makhmud Muradov, tapped out just 54 seconds into Round 1. Pereira, after testing the waters with kicks, floored Potieria with a clean one-two. Then, in a moment of pure showmanship, Pereira backflipped, nearly hitting Potieria’s head. The scramble that followed ended with Pereira locking in a standing guillotine. Potieria’s struggle was brief; he tapped, then seemed to lose consciousness for a moment. Pereira’s now on an eight-fight winning streak, with the last three wins all under 66 seconds.

Lastly, Caio Borralho put an end to Paul Craig’s night in their middleweight bout. Craig, a former BAMMA champ, found himself on the losing end 2:10 into Round 2. Borralho was in control from the start, mixing hooks and body kicks, and steering clear of ground exchanges. A left hook-right hook combo had Craig reeling, and Borralho didn’t let up. A final straight left was all it took. Borralho’s now on a 13-fight winning streak, proving he’s a force to be reckoned with.

So, there you have it. UFC 301 was nothing short of spectacular, with champions defending titles and legends returning to form. For more on the play-by-play and round scoring, check out the related links. And, as always, stay tuned for more thrilling MMA action.

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