UFC 301 Betting Preview: Steve Erceg Will Learn Tough Lesson Against Alexandre Pantoja

April 29, 2024
4 weeks

Steve Erceg being announced as the opponent for Alexandre Pantoja as a co-headliner for a championship fight at UFC 301 in Brazil is stunning. Erceg, a 28-year-old Australian fighter, is only ranked 10th in the division. While Erceg has won his first three UFC fights, he hasn’t exactly beaten the toughest competition on the way to a spot in a championship fight.

But Pantoja didn’t leave the UFC with much choice. Pantoja already has wins over the top two contenders, Brandon Moreno and Brandon Royval. In addition, Pantoja has won over Alex Perez, Manel Kape, and Matt Schnell, who are highly regarded, ranked challengers. Fighting Erceg will be a fresh opponent for Pantoja.

Pantoja is a well-rounded fighter who can rely on his grappling or striking to win. Erceg has significantly less experience. He is 12-1 in his career and has six submissions on his resume. 

It’s hard to see a path to victory for Erceg. While Erceg knocked out Matt Schnell in his last fight, that doesn’t say much. Schnell has been chinny over his last few fights. MMA breaking news will show after this fight that Pantoja will stay on top.

Bets to consider: Parlay Pantoja ML, Over 3.5 rounds

King Of Rio Returns from Retirement

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José Aldo, 37, may be known to a younger generation of fight fans as the man Conor McGregor beat in 13 seconds. But anyone who has followed the Brazilian fighter’s career knows he was once the king of the UFC featherweight division. Before his shocking loss to McGregor, Aldo had defended his championship seven times.

Aldo returning to the octagon to fight Jonathan Martinez this weekend is shocking. He had been away from the sport for nearly two years after retiring. But Aldo has to be excited by the opportunity to fight in his home country for the first time since his son was born.

Aldo hasn’t been sitting on his hands, either. During the past two years, Aldo has competed in three boxing fights. The question remains about how engaged Aldo is with fighting. Will he want to retire again, regardless of his success or failure?

Martinez, 30, has won six consecutive fights. Two of Martinez’s last three fights have seen him win by leg-kick KO. At his peak, Aldo beats Martinez easily. Martinez should win this fight, but if the fight goes to the scorecards and it is close, it’s hard not to believe that Aldo could be the recipient of a hometown decision.

This is likely a fight to pass on.

Bets to consider: Martinez double chance by KO or decision

Petrino Would Like to Pass Veteran Test

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Vitor Petrino will feel good to be in his home country when he takes on Anthony Smith. During Petrino’s MMA career, he has extended his professional record to 11-0 by picking up wins in his first four fights in the promotion. However, Petrino has mostly been fighting low-level or middling competition.

Now, Petrino will get the step-up he has been looking for against former light heavyweight title challenger Anthony Smith. Smith has fought many current or former champions and has an incredible 56 professional fights under his belt. But Smith hasn’t looked good over the past few years.

Smith is 1-3 in his last four fights, which includes two knockout losses. Smith is annoyed that Petrino called him out. What offends Smith is he believes that many young fighters think he is an easy target according to MMA latest updates.

Smith may be on the downside to his career, but this is a good spot to back him at a big number to take a flier on a veteran gatekeeper.

Bets to consider: Smith ML

Pereira Finds Home at Middleweight

Despite his wild striking and immense power, Michel Pereira was building up a reputation as a fighter who didn’t have the gas tank to finish fights. However, Pereira decided to move from welterweight to middleweight.

Since doing so in October 2023, Pereira has responded with two first-round finishes. He should be set up to pick up another one this weekend. Ihor Potieria shocked the MMA world when he finished Maurício Rua at UFC 283.

Since then, however, Potieria has been 1-2, with two losses by KO. Pereira has found his home in middleweight. He should win this fight with a spectacular finish, leaving everyone at home wondering how he does it.

MMAfighting latest news will show that Potieria is stepping into this fight on short notice.

Bets to consider: Pereira by KO, Under 1.5 rounds, Fight to end in first round

Fighting Nerd Ready for Scottish Grappler

Paul Craig has a reputation for being a fighter who you don’t want to end up on the mat with. But Craig may not like being there against Caio Borralho. Borralho, the Brazilian fighter, has leaned on his strong grappling to control opponents. 

This fight may come down to which fighter does better on his feet. Craig has been knocked out by strong strikers during his career, but Borralho is known for being a more balanced fighter. This will be a fun one for opening the main card.

Bets to consider: Borralho by finish, Under 1.5 rounds

Shore Will Need to Be on His Toes

Jack Shore does most of his best work on the mat. Shore must be careful if he attempts to hunt for his 10th career submission win by challenging Joanderson Brito on the ground. Brito finished another wrestler, Jonathan Pearce, during his last fight with a ninja choke.

Brito has won eight fights by submission. Both men will be comfortable going to the ground, and one of them will be able to wrap up a submission.

Bets to consider: Fight to end by submission, Brito ML

Here are some quick picks on the other fights on the card not mentioned above:

  • Women’s Strawweight, Karolina Kowalkiewicz (+320) vs Iasmin Lucindo (-410)
  • Lightweight, Elves Brenner (+195) vs Myktybek Orolbai (-238)
  • Featherweight, Jean Silva (-148) vs William Gomis (+124)
  • Lightweight, Joaquim Silva (+154) vs Drakkar Klose (-185)
  • Lightweight, Mauricio Ruffy (-166) vs Jamie Mullarkey (+140)
  • Women’s flyweight, Dione Barbosa (-205) vs Ernesta Kareckaite (+170)
  • Lightweight, Ismael Bonfim (-485) vs Vinc Pichel (+370)
  • Flyweight, Alessandro Costa (-155) vs Kevin Borjas (+130)

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By Dean McHugh.

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