UFC Champion Set For Fight With Opponent ‘Nobody Will Expect’

News Room

The UFC men’s flyweight division is in an odd state, and that may call for some creative matchmaking for its champion, Alexandre Pantoja.

The 34-year-old Brazilian champion spoke to James Lynch and other media members at the UFC Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and he teased his potentially epic next fight.

When asked about his next fight, Pantoja said:

“UFC has already talked to me. I expect something in two or three months. I cannot say anything right now, but it’s going to be huge for everyone and one name that I think nobody will expect. I’m super glad about the name. Very good for my career, it’s huge for me.”

Here is a look at the entire interview:

That makes me wonder if the fight will be against someone currently in the UFC’s flyweight division. There is no one in the Top 15 at 125 pounds who would be an opponent “nobody will expect.”

Pantoja’s last defense came against Steve Erceg at UFC 301. The challenger was ranked No. 10. If Pantoja could fight an opponent ranked No. 10, he could feasibly fight anyone currently ranked, and there is no flyweight in the UFC who is presently unranked who would qualify as an opponent Pantoja would describe as being “a name” that is “good” for his career.

After all, Pantoja has faced and/or beaten every significant fighter in his weight class. One of the only fighters who has risen to any level of prominence at flyweight that he hasn’t beaten is Deiveson Figueiredo.

Pantoja lost to the former champion by unanimous decision at UFC 240 in July 2019. That said, let the speculation begin.

Could the UFC have worked out a way for Pantoja to face former flyweight champion and current ONE Championship bantamweight king Demetrious Johnson?

That would be a fantastic test for Pantoja, and it would definitely qualify as a name that would be good for his career. However, several issues with that fight might make it impossible.

Besides the trade that sent Johnson to ONE in exchange for Ben Askren back in 2018, the two organizations haven’t worked together. It’s unclear what Johnson’s current contract with ONE is like or if he’d be allowed to fight in the UFC.

There’s also a question of whether he could still make 125 pounds, as he has competed as a bantamweight with ONE for the past five years.

If all systems were go, and those would be major ifs, Mighty Mouse vs. Pantoja would be a crazy fight. It could easily be billed as the battle to determine the greatest flyweight in MMA history.

Could Pantoja be referring to Askar Askarov? The last time Pantoja lost a fight was against Askarov in July 2020. Askarov left the UFC in 2022 after a weight-cutting issue ahead of a fight with Brandon Royval.

He’d lost his last fight against Kai Kara France in March 2022, but that is his only professional defeat. The 31-year-old Russian last fought in November 2023 against Alan Gomes for the ACA promotion in Russia.

If he could return to the UFC and provide Pantoja with an opportunity to avenge his last loss, that might be an exciting fight–though not as interesting as a battle with Mighty Mouse.

It’ll be interesting to see who Pantoja faces next and if that fighter is currently signed with the UFC or on their way in for a debut against the flyweight champion.

Read the full article here

Share this Article
Leave a comment