The UFC is set to have fourth-ranked flyweight, Alexandre Pantoja on standby for the flyweight title fight between Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez on July 18.
Back at UFC Norfolk on February 29, Figueiredo missed weight and ended up knocking out Benavidez. So, the flyweight title was still vacant. Yet, when the two rematch, the UFC has a plan so that won’t happen once again. Meaning, the flyweight title will once again be occupied.
According to Ag Fight Pantoja, who fights Askar Askarov on the July 18 card, will serve as the backup fighter. Meaning, Pantoja will have to make 125-pounds on the dot to be able to win the title if Figueiredo or Benavidez either miss weight. Or can’t make it to fight night.
It certainly makes sense to have a backup fighter as the flyweight title has been vacant for months now. And, the UFC needs to have a champion in the division. The rematch was something the UFC wanted, but with Figueiredo needing to make 125-pounds, it is smart to have Pantoja on standby.
Alexandre Pantoja returned to the win column last time out where he scored a first-round TKO win over Matt Schnell at UFC Busan. Before that, the Brazilian lost a decision to Figueiredo at UFC 240 to snap his three-fight winning streak.
Deiveson Figueiredo, meanwhile, is currently 18-1 and on a three-fight winning streak. There, he has the knockout win over Benavidez, a submission win over Tim Elliott, and the decision win over Pantoja.
Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2 is a fight many fans are looking forward to as the first fight was entertaining for as long as it lasted. Yet, if Pantoja slides in to replace Benavidez it would be a rematch between the two Brazilians. But, if he battles the American, it would be a fresh matchup which should guarantee to be entertaining.
Regardless, it is likely Pantoja will be next in line for a title shot assuming he beats Askarov.
Cole Shelton covers MMA for BJPenn.com, MMANews, and MyMMANews.com while also being the lead MMA odds writer for Sports Betting Dime