Preview of UFC 301 Featuring Pantoja vs. Erceg Matchup

UFC 301’s here, folks. And boy, does it feel like it’s still in the shadow of UFC 300. It’s not the brightest star in the UFC’s pay-per-view lineup, but hey, it’s something. Especially for the Rio de Janeiro crowd, getting to cheer for their own like flyweight champ Alexandre Pantoja and the legendary Jose Aldo. But, let’s be real, Steve Erceg and Jonathan Martinez aren’t household names. This one’s for the die-hards, no doubt.

Now, the undercard’s got some gems. Vitor Petrino and Caio Borralho are stepping up against Anthony Smith and Paul Craig, respectively. And Michel Pereira? He’s set to bring the fireworks against Ihor Potieria.

Let’s dive into the UFC 301 “Pantoja vs. Erceg” preview, shall we?

**UFC Flyweight Championship**
Pantoja’s facing off against Erceg. It’s a matchup that kinda came outta nowhere. Pantoja’s finally getting his moment in the sun, right in his hometown, after what feels like forever. Remember him from Season 24 of “The Ultimate Fighter”? Top seed, that guy. Didn’t clinch the title, but man, did he keep things interesting in the flyweight division.

Pantoja’s style? Think high-octane, with a dash of brutal back takes. Despite always lighting up the card, a title shot always seemed just out of reach. Then came 2021. Wins over Manel Kape, Brandon Royval, and Alex Perez made him impossible to ignore. And when he finally got his shot against Brandon Moreno in 2023, it was a nail-biter. But Pantoja showed what champions are made of.

His first defense, though? A bit of a letdown, if we’re talking sheer excitement. Opting for a wrestling-heavy game against Royval, Pantoja played it smart but safe. It was effective, sure, but we missed the old Pantoja flair.

Fast forward a few months, and UFC 301 was shaping up. Pantoja, the lone Brazilian champ available, was expected to headline. The plan was for him to face the winner of a bout between Moreno and Amir Albazi. But then, Albazi got injured, Royval stepped in, and well, plans changed. Enter Steve Erceg, the Aussie underdog.

Erceg, aka “Astro Boy,” had a lot to prove. Not seen as a standout athlete, he made his mark as a submission artist back home. But hitting the UFC, he showed up evolved, especially in his striking. His UFC journey’s been solid, with a notable KO of Matt Schnell. But against Pantoja? That athleticism gap might just be too wide.

Still, Erceg’s no pushover. He’s got the skills to turn this into a brawl if Pantoja’s not on his A-game. But the smart money’s on Pantoja, by decision. It’s gonna be a fight, that’s for sure.

**Continue Reading**
– Pantoja vs. Erceg
– Martinez vs. Aldo
– Petrino vs. Smith
– Pereira vs. Potieria
– Borralho vs. Craig
– The Prelims

So, there you have it. UFC 301 might not have the glitz of its predecessors, but it’s packed with potential. Let’s see if it delivers.

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