Eager Erceg: Alexandre Pantoja Survives Main-Event Scare at UFC 301

May 6, 2024
3 weeks

Steve Erceg will have the rest of his life to live with the result of his performance at UFC 301. In a title that some observers some people believed may have been rushed, the Australian flyweight proved he belonged. Erceg cut UFC flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja with an elbow during a UFC flyweight championship fight Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Blood poured from Pantoja’s head for the rest of the fight. Pantoja’s vision was obscured as the blood from the cut ran into his eye. Entering the fifth round, Pantoja and Erceg were even on two of the judges’ scorecards. All Erceg had to do was win the fifth round to become a champion.

“I blew it,” Erceg said after the fight.

In the fifth round, Erceg attempted to wrestle Pantoja. While Erceg is a black belt in jiu-jitsu, Pantoja is the more accomplished wrestler. Pantoja was able to force his way on top and ride out the round. MMAfighting latest news shows that Pantoja’s wrestling in the fifth round allowed him to defend his title with judges’ scorecards of 48-47, 48-47, and 49-46.

King of Rio Leaves the Crowd Standing

José Aldo is a Hall of Famer. The 37-year-old Brazilian star and former featherweight champion hadn’t fought in the UFC in over two years. The best MMA news sites show Aldo wasn’t totally inactive during that period.

Aldo was still competing in boxing, but when the UFC announced it was having another card in Rio, Aldo wanted in. Young striker Jonathan Martinez was tasked with trying to beat the former champ.

Aldo provided him with a lesson on what it takes to reach the top of the sport. Martinez couldn’t utilize his typical leg-kicking game. Aldo has a legendary defense against the maneuver. Aldo mixed up shots to the body and head well throughout the fight.

Aldo also rocked Martinez in the third round. He was able to pick up a unanimous decision to please the hometown crowd.

No Substitute for Experience

Anthony Smith was insulted. Not only was Vitor Petrino called out by an up-and-coming prospect, but Petrino was a big favorite when the two were selected to fight each other. Smith said that he didn’t want to be viewed as a gatekeeper leading up to the fight.

The former light heavyweight title challenger believes he is still one of the top fighters in his division. Petrino, who is now 11-1 in his career, fought wildly against Smith. When Petrino shot for a takedown in the first round, his inexperience led to a major mistake.

Smith was able to wrap his arms under Petrino’s neck. In a snap, when Petrino went to pick up Smith, he ended up in a guillotine choke on the canvas. There was a brief moment where Petrino appeared to be fighting the hold, but he would tap out just two minutes into the first.

Revenge for Shogun

With the event in Brazil, it was appropriate that the UFC celebrate Mauricio Rua’s induction into the promotion’s Hall of Fame. To make things sweetened for Rua, who was in attendance, the last man who beat him, Ihor Potieria, took a fight on short notice to take on Michel Pereira.

A difficult weight cut made Potieria’s challenge of beating Pereira even more difficult. Pereira is a fighter known for unorthodox attacks. During the first round, Pereira did something no one saw coming.

Pereira attempted a backflip attack. As Pereira completed the flip, his leg connected with Potierria’s chest and head. Pereira would eventually lock up a standing guillotine choke to secure a victory in 45 seconds.

Potieria ended up still going unconscious despite nearly tapping out. 

Fighting Nerd Impresses Before and After Fight

Brazilian fighter Caio Borralho didn’t need the translator to switch between Portuguese and English. Borralho improved his record to 16-1 with an impressive second-round knockout win over Paul Craig. Borralho, who is better known for his grappling, went into the fight with the idea that he was going to knock out Craig.

“I’m a fighting nerd,” Borralho said. “I do my homework. When the test comes, I took an A+. [Sic]. That’s what the fighting nerd does.”

Borralho was able to avoid Craig’s many attempts to get the fight down to the mat in the first round. During the second round, Borralho was able to get into the pocket and string together a combination to score the knockout over Craig. MMA latest updates show that Borralho will likely be headed for a fight against a ranked opponent next.

Shores Takes Brutal Amount of Damage

Leg kicks took a brutal toll on Jack Shore. Joanderson Brito consistently fired the low strike during their fight. But there was one leg kick in particular that did a lot of damage to Shore.

In the second round, Brito landed a leg kick late in the middle of the second round that opened up a nasty cut in Shore’s leg. So much blood was pouring out of the cut that the ringside doctor was brought in to assess the damage. What followed was a gross sequence for anyone watching. The doctor put his finger in the cut and pressed around on Shore’s leg. He determined the leg was likely broken, and the bout was stopped.

There was a lot of action on Saturday’s card. Here’s a look at the other fights on the card not mentioned above:

  • Women’s strawweight, Iasmin Lucindo win by decision over Karolina Kowalkiewicz, 30-27 (x3)
  • Lightweight, Myktybek Orolbai win by decision over Elves Brener, 29-27 (x3)
  • Lightweight, Drakkar Klose win by decision over Joaquim Silva, 29-28 (x3)
  • Lightweight, Mauricio Ruffy win by TKO (punches) over Jamie Mullarkey, Round 1 4:42
  • Women’s flyweight, Dione Barbosa win by decision over Ernesta Kareckaite, 29-28 (x3)
  • Lightweight, Ismael Bonfim win by decision over Vinc Pichel, 30-2
  • Flyweight, Alessandro Costa win by TKO (punches) over Kevin Borjas, Round 2 1:34

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By Dean McHugh.

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