The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to us tonight, August 21, 2021, after a weekend away for UFC on ESPN 29, headlined by middleweight contenders Jared Cannonier (No. 3) and Kelvin Gastelum (No. 9).
Cannonier was originally slated to headline against No. 2 ranked Paulo Costa tonight, however, Costa pulled out and was replaced by Gastelum.
Actually, Gastelum also filled in when Costa pulled out of his bout with former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in April, which was also a five-round bout. He’s been filling all the gaps for the UFC recently, but with consequence.
Including his interim title bout with current UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, he’s gone 1-4 in his last five, after initially going 5-1 at 185 lbs with victories over four world champions (Nate Marquardt, Johny Hendricks, Jacare Souza, Michael Bisping).
Opening up the main card tonight was another bout of contenders, this one in the flyweight division between former RFA & AXS TV flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja (No. 3) and former LFA flyweight champion Brandon Royval. Pantoja already holds two victories over current UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno.
Continue reading to see how this epic flyweight contest went down:
Official Result: Alexandre Pantoja def. Brandon Royval via submission (rear naked choke) at 1:46 of round two
Royval opens up with immense pressure, but Pantoja gets right to work with his wrestling, as he takes Royval down about 15 seconds in. Royval spends about three minutes in disadvantage positions, as the two scramble the entire time they’re downed.
Royval then gets back to his feet and gets starts letting his strikes go, which consists of a number of punches, elbows, knees up the middle, head kicks, and leg kicks. He won the remainder of the round, but probably lost considering the earlier two-thirds.
Pantoja comes forward and marches Royval down to start round two, and secures another early takedown.
Royval gets back to his feet, before Pantoja shoots on another takedown attempt, which is denied. Royval then gets on top, before another scramble lands Pantoja in back-mount again.
Pantoja is able to sink in the rear naked choke, and very surprisingly gets the tap.
This was a bout of two elite BJJ black belts, and one ends up getting submitted.
Royval still has some work to do, but he’s a serious talent. He comes to fight; he isn’t afraid of getting hurt, ending up on his back, no, he’s ready to throw down the entire time. This was an incredibly impressive victory for Pantoja.
Who should he face next?
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I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.