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Alexandre Pantoja vs Steve Erceg decide, prediction, time, odds: UFC 301


MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom goes in depth to interrupt down the largest fights within the UFC. Right this moment, he takes a better have a look at the UFC 301 foremost occasion between flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja and challenger Steve Erceg.

Alexandre Pantoja UFC 301 preview

Alexandre Pantoja

Staple data:

  • Peak: 5’5″ Age: 34 Weight: 125 lbs. Attain: 67″
  • Document: (27-5 MMA, 11-3 UFC)
  • Final combat: Determination win over Brandon Royval (Dec. 16, 2023)
  • Camp: American High Workforce (Florida)
  • Stance/hanging model: Orthodox/muay Thai
  • Threat administration: Honest

Supplemental data:
+ UFC flyweight champion
+ Regional MMA titles
+ Newbie muay Thai accolades
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt
+ 8 KO victories
+ 10 submission wins
+ 10 first-round finishes
+ KO energy
+ Aggressive tempo and stress
+ Counters properly together
+ Onerous leg kicks
+ Strong clinch fighter
^ Strikes properly off the breaks
+ Underrated wrestling means
+ Very good transitional grappler
^ Slick submissions, good ground-and-pound

Steve Erceg UFC 301 preview

Steve Erceg

Staple data:

  • Peak: 5’8″ Age: 28 Weight: 125 lbs. Attain: 68″
  • Document: (12-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC)
  • Final combat: Knockout win over Matt Schnell (March 2, 2024)
  • Camp: Wilkes Martial Arts (Australia)
  • Stance/hanging model: Orthodox/muay Thai
  • Threat administration: Good

Supplemental data:
+ Regional MMA titles
+ Jiu-jitsu black belt
+ Nationwide wrestling gold medal (Aus.)
+ Muay Thai state title
+ 2 KO victories
+ 6 submission wins
+ 5 first-round finishes
+ Constant tempo and stress
+ Will get higher because the combat goes on
+ Educated lead hand
^ Jabs, hooks, timing change-ups
+ Nicely-rounded hanging arsenal
+ Robust contained in the clinch
^ Sneaky elbows off frames
+ Strong wrestling and scrambling means
+ Good from front-headlock
^ Harmful submission in transition

Alexandre Pantoja vs. Steve Erceg focal point: Muay thai maelstrom

The primary occasion in Rio contains a flyweight title combat between two males who’re conversant in the artwork of eight limbs.

A well-rounded martial artist who’s clearly comfy on the toes, Steve Erceg poses threats in a number of phases.

A big flyweight who isn’t afraid to combat to his body, Erceg does a good job of staying lengthy with a strong jab and energetic kicking recreation. Whether or not Erceg is trying to punish opponents down low with leg kicks or craftily come up excessive with query mark kicks, the 28-year-old challenger demonstrates glorious management of his decrease extremities.

Relating to his boxing recreation, Erceg exhibits an informed left hand that may supply change-ups in each his shot choice and timing. Contained in the clinch, Erceg presents the knees you’d count on from a fighter together with his peak and can also be good about sneaking in elbows that he likes to fold over frames.

Erceg has some glorious cross-counters in his repertoire that I see serving him properly on this matchup, however he’ll must respect the warmth that Alexandre Pantoja shall be sending again his means.

As his nickname “The Cannibal” would recommend, Pantoja is an offensive marauder who isn’t afraid to shed blood so as to feed himself.

An inherent stress fighter, Pantoja is usually at his greatest when coming ahead and trying to corrall opposition towards the cage. Though Pantoja’s method and protection can typically go away a lot to be desired, the Brazilian bruiser can circulation by way of offensive phases like second nature and counters properly together.

In actual fact, Pantoja has quietly developed his counter-striking savvy in his latter years, which, in flip, offers him each extra respiratory room and choices to function from on the toes.

Demonstrating glorious instincts within the clinch, Pantoja has really feel for physique knees and strikes off the break. Nonetheless, each fighters supply a plethora of threats in closed quarters, making grappling an actual chance on each side.

Alexandre Pantoja vs. Steve Erceg breakdown: Defend your neck

Nov 11, 2023; New York, NY, USA; Steve Erceg (crimson gloves) fights Alessandro Costa (blue gloves) throughout UFC 295 at Madison Sq. Backyard. Obligatory Credit score: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports activities

Contemplating the potential for chaos on the toes, nobody ought to be shocked if these two find yourself tangling on the ground.

Erceg, who – akin to Alexander Volkanovski – can also be a nationwide wrestling gold medalist in Australia, is just not past switching gears and going for takedowns.

From double legs alongside the fence to reactive pictures within the open, Erceg seems to be a well-versed wrestler from a number of spots. And when opponents try to shoot in on Erceg, the Australian standout exhibits a powerful front-headlock that he’s capable of parlay into optimistic positions and potential chokes.

Pantoja wields some underrated reactive doubles in his again pocket, however the Brazilian champion might want to respect the submission counters of Erceg. Fortunately for Pantoja, he appears to desire to work from bodylock positions – that are nice for avoiding front-headlock situations.

Regardless of not formally engaged on his wrestling till teaming up with Henry Cejudo post-“TUF,” Pantoja has at all times been a harmful risk from the bodylock.

Parlaying off of his beforehand talked about clinch hanging, Pantoja is fast to lock his arms round his opposition and shuck them off to a aspect every time potential.

Displaying good cage consciousness, Pantoja wastes little time in the case of wedging himself in between the fence and the again of his opposition. And as soon as Pantoja is ready to get the slightest chew on a place, the Shooto Brazil vet will leap on the alternative to shift the combat’s dynamic.

We’ve but to see Erceg face the extent of grappling and physicality that Pantoja brings to the desk, however Alessandro Costa was capable of finding transient success when making use of himself from mentioned positions.

Erceg was capable of efficiently scramble and finally beat the fighter within the instance above, however I’ll be curious to see how the challenger’s scrambling stacks up with somebody like Pantoja.

In victory or defeat, seldom will you see anybody get to Pantoja’s again for extended durations or put him in precarious submission threats. In actual fact, the 16-year professional has a knack for turning unfavourable positions round by way of his very good legwork and scrambling means.

Pantoja, who has unimaginable transitional instincts and chair sits, ought to have an edge in the case of discovering the again. And if Pantoja finally ends up on high, the American High Workforce rep has some improbable floor hanging that’s not talked about sufficient.

Like a snake hanging its prey on the character channel, Pantoja possesses unimaginable accuracy and pop to the punches that barely arc round his opponent’s guard.

Alexandre Pantoja vs. Steve Erceg odds

The oddsmakers and the general public are favoring the sitting champion, itemizing Pantoja -200 and Erceg +154 through FanDuel.

Alexandre Pantoja vs. Steve Erceg prediction, decide

Dec 16, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Alexandre Pantoja (crimson gloves) is given the championship belt by UFC president Dana White after defeating Brandon Royval (not pictured) to win the UFC Flyweight title throughout UFC 296 at T-Cell Area. Obligatory Credit score: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports activities

Despite the fact that I’m a giant fan of Erceg and his model, I’m a bit stunned to see him drawing the identical respect that Brandon Royval did in his final combat primarily based on simply three exhibiting within the octagon.

Then once more, there’s nothing that MMA gamblers love greater than fading older fighters (as I believe that many try to make again no matter they misplaced betting in opposition to the criminally underrated champion).

Nonetheless, I can’t actually blame anybody for suspecting that the underside might drop out on a fighter like Pantoja given all of the miles {that a} profession of going to conflict has probably placed on his physique. And although I don’t count on the champ to come back out and look utterly shot this Saturday, I do fear what he appears to be like like within the latter rounds of this combat.

Regardless of being the extra confirmed product on the championship degree, there’s no denying that Pantoja wants his pockets to recoup contemplating the inherent aggression that he brings to his fights.

Pantoja might have handed the check in opposition to a cardio machine like Royval final day out, however Erceg is arguably a extra well-rounded risk given his wrestling and punching energy. Erceg additionally seems to be a constructing fighter in nature, exhibiting the flexibility to regulate on the fly and get higher because the combat wears on.

That mentioned, I nonetheless have a tough time choosing in opposition to Pantoja on this spot.

Apart from the plain expertise edge on paper, I consider that the champion’s model presents issues that shall be troublesome for Erceg to take care of. Not solely will Pantoja deliver a degree of physicality and ability that his counterpart has but to see, however his clinch ways and bodylock sensibilities (as identified within the earlier part) ought to serve him properly in opposition to Erceg.

I wouldn’t be shocked if Erceg tried to smother his Brazilian foe like Dustin Ortiz and Askar Askarov did earlier than him, however Pantoja has historically been troublesome to try this to in these latter phases of his profession.

And although I might see Erceg’s jab and counters having some severe play on the toes, it’s going to possible solely encourage Pantoja to kick out his counterpart’s supporting leg and counter even tougher together (which was the champ’s reply for each Brandon Moreno and Royval in current outings, even when he was drained).

Add in the truth that Erceg inherently leaves his head upright to be tagged by overhand rights and counters alike, and I can’t assist however decide Pantoja to take the Australian challenger to process inside the first two rounds. But when Pantoja fails to complete Erceg by the third body, then I believe that “Astro Boy” shall be extremely dwell within the latter parts of this combat.

The official decide is Pantoja by second-round submission.

Prediction: Pantoja inside the space

Alexandre Pantoja vs. Steve Erceg begin time, the place to observe

Pantoja and Erceg are anticipated to make their walks to the octagon at roughly 12:30 a.m. ET (9:30 p.m. PT). The combat streams on ESPN+ pay-per-view.

For extra on the cardboard, go to MMA Junkie’s occasion hub for UFC 301.

You should definitely go to the MMA Junkie Instagram web page and YouTube channel to debate this and extra content material with followers of blended martial arts.



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