UFC 301: Pantoja vs. Erceg Fight Card, Predictions, & Odds

min read
Australia's Steve Erceg, top, punches Brazil's Alessandro Costa during the third round of a flyweight bout at the UFC 295.
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Anatoly Pimentel @AnatolyPimentel May 02, 2024, 6:30 PM
  • The UFC flyweight battle between Alexandre Pantoja and Steve Erceg headline the UFC 301 card this Saturday.
  • Pantoja and Erceg are riding win streaks at five and three, respectively.
  • Pantoja is the betting favorite with -200 odds, while Erceg is the +165 underdog.

For the second time in his title reign, reigning UFC flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja will be defending his championship as he takes on the challenge of No. 10-ranked divisional contender Steve Erceg in the main event of the UFC 301 card this Saturday inside the Farmasi Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Because of his recent form and dominance that saw him win five straight victories under the Las Vegas-based promotion, Pantoja will be the -200 betting favorite in UFC odds against Erceg’s +165 underdog odds. 

Additionally, oddsmakers are not yet sold on Erceg’s experience in the UFC since he only has three fights in the promotion under his record. Among these wins, the challenger only had one stoppage victory.

Alexandre Pantoja Recent Fight Results

Pantoja competed in other fight organizations before earning a contract with the UFC in January 2017. He is now a seven-year UFC veteran with 14 fights in the promotion, winning 11 and dropping the other three.

Among those wins were against Brandon Moreno (twice), Wilson Reis, Matt Schnell, Manel Kape, and Brandon Royval (twice). His three losses were courtesy of Dustin Ortiz, Deiveson Figueiredo, and Askar Askarov. Pantoja became the undisputed king of the division in July.

Steve Erceg Recent Fight Results

Erceg is a relatively new fighter in the UFC because he only fought three times and officially debuted in June last year. Before joining the leading MMA promotion, he already accumulated an impressive 9-1 record.

The Australian made a successful promotional debut by beating David Dvorak, and then he quickly followed it up with another win over Alessandro Costa in November. Erceg earned his title shot by scoring a second-round knockout finish of Schnell in his most recent bout in March.

Alexandre Pantoja vs. Steve Erceg: Tale of the Tape

Alexandre PantojaSteve Erceg
Reach67 inches68 inches
Leg Reach36.5 inches38 inches
Fighting StyleMMAMMA
Finishing Rate67%67%

Alexandre Pantoja vs. Steve Erceg: Fight Analysis

The tale of the tape of this upcoming UFC flyweight championship clash between Pantoja and Erceg favors the challenger, as he will enjoy 3 inches of height (5-foot-8 against 5-foot-5), an inch of reach (68 inches against 67 inches) and 1.5 inches of leg reach advantage (38 inches against 36.5 inches) against the defending champion.

When it comes to style, both Pantoja and Erceg bring their unique approaches to the octagon. With an identical 67% finish rate, they are evenly matched. However, their distinct approaches set them apart. Pantoja relies on his grappling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills, while Erceg showcases his striking arsenal.

This distinction is very evident in their grappling and significant strike output. Pantoja has a higher takedown average of 2.2 per minute (against Erceg’s 1.69), a 48% takedown accuracy rate (compared to Erceg’s 30%), and a 0.97 submission average per 15 minutes (versus Erceg’s 0.85).

Whereas Erceg has a slightly better striking number of 4.57 significant strikes per minute (against Pantoja’s 4.32), 3.64 significant strikes absorbed (compared to Pantoja’s 3.90), and 55% significant strike defense (against Pantoja’s 50%).

With the numbers now laid out, the stage is set for another classic matchup between a striker and a grappler. Historically, the grappler has the advantage against a striker, as they can nullify their advantage on the feet once they get a hold of them on the ground.

Pantoja has done very well at this in his past two fights against Moreno and Royval. He maximized his superior grappling to take them down the mat and operated with his ground-and-pound attacks and submission attempts. Knowing that Erceg has a one-shot knockout power, Pantoja is expected to replicate his fight plan from his past four fights to try and get a submission finish.

Official Prediction: Submission victory for Alexandre Pantoja.

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About the Author

Anatoly Pimentel

Read More @AnatolyPimentel

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.