Wasteland: What’s left for Alexandre Pantoja?

Alexandre Pantoja has beat everyone in his division, some more than others. His win at UFC 301 last night, a unanimous decision over tenth ranked Steve Erceg, was a tough and hard fought battle that put him 9-0 against the current top ten of the UFC’s flyweight division. So what is next for the man who has done it all? A new challenge or retreading some old ground?

Run it back: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Steve Erceg 2

While Alexandre Pantoja did say he wanted some time off in his post fight interview, a rematch with Steve Erceg would be warranted when he does return. Admittedly he did fight three times in a year, beating Brandon Moreno, Brandon Royval and Erceg.

But when he does decide to come back, maybe Erceg can notch another win over a name like Kai Kara-France or Alex Perez. Then, middle of next year, we get this fight again. The UFC 301 main event was a blast and the judges had Pantoja winning by a round on two score cards. With the relative short notice nature of this fight, a rematch could be argued for.

Fresh blood: Amir Albazi

Amir Albazi is one of flyweight’s more attractive prospects with his 17-1 record. His resume, however, is the weakest in the top five. Ranked third, Amir Albazi hasn’t fought since his split decision win over Kai Kara-France in June of 2023. He was booked to fight Moreno in February but pulled out due to a neck injury.

But aside from the Kara-France win, Albazi’s resume is underwhelming. Since coming to the UFC, he’s beat Malcolm Gordon, Zhalgas Zhumagulov, Francisco Figueiredo, and Alessandro Costa in addition to the Kara-France win. Matching he and Alexandre Pantoja together would only be to give Pantoja something new and let the division sort out some new contenders.

The wild option: Brandon Royval trilogy

I usually find it very hard to make a case for a fighter to have a trilogy fight when they’re down 0-2. But Brandon Royval, he deserves it. Since beating Kai Kara-France in 2020, Royval has only dropped the two fights to Alexandre Pantoja and one to Brandon Moreno, which was an injury and avenged in his last fight.

The second fight with Pantoja was a close fight and a decision loss at UFC 296. He bounced back by pouring on volume to Brandon Moreno and winning that fight via a questionable split decision. That put Royval at the number one contender spot.

This isn’t solely due to Royval’s resume, it’s actually more about Pantoja’s. Again, he is 9-0 against the top 15. Matheus Nicolau just lost to Alex Perez, one of Pantoja’s past wins. Muhammad Mokaev hasn’t got a real win except for that underwhelming fight with the aforementioned Perez. Albazi has the resume issues talked about in the last section.

It seems Alexandre Pantoja has conquered his division before he became it’s king.

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Blaine Henry
Your friendly neighborhood fight fan. I watch way too many fights and my wife lets me know it.