Alexandre Pantoja believes a victory at UFC Vegas 34 will be enough to warrant a title shot.
Brazilian flyweight contender Alexandre Pantoja has been a staple of the flyweight division for several years and a top contender since recording back-to-back opening round finishes in 2018-2019. Though despite his efforts, Pantoja still is yet to compete for UFC gold.
The No. 3 ranked flyweight is six months removed from his unanimous decision victory over Manel Kape, which served as the first of what he hopes to be three fights this year. At UFC Vegas 34, Pantoja will take on Brandon Royval, who sits at No. 6 in the rankings.
Beating Royval will build Pantoja’s case for his first UFC title shot, but it wouldn’t be his first time facing the champ. Pantoja owns two wins over Brandon Moreno — one via decision in 2016 on The Ultimate Fighter and one via decision in 2018.
Pantoja hopes that a victory at UFC Vegas 34 will put him in position for a third fight with Moreno.
“I want to fight three times this year,” Pantoja told reporters at the UFC media day. “This is my second fight of this year and I think if I won, maybe I could make a title shot. Maybe 2021 is a good year for me, yes?”
The veteran acknowledges the fact that a loss to Royval this weekend throws a wrench into his title hopes.
“But first I have a good challenge on Saturday,” he affirmed. “Brandon Royval is an exciting fighter and when UFC gave me this fight, I would appreciate it because he fights like me, he’s a good style, he comes to fight not just for score. He comes to fight to prove himself. And I think Saturday me and him are gonna make a big, big show.”
Alexandre Pantoja shares take on Cody Garbrandt’s move to flyweight
There doesn’t seem to be a doubt in Pantoja’s mind that the flyweight division is one of the promotion’s deepest and most talented.
He has a strong take on the insertion of Cody Garbrandt in the division. Notably, the former bantamweight champ makes his flyweight debut in December against Kai Kara-France. Pantoja has a heavy interest in the bout.
“Now Cody Garbrandt tries to come down to flyweight, I hope Kai Kara-France kill that guy you know,” Pantoja said. “Not because I don’t like Garbrandt, but to prove to the world how the flyweights are good.”
Pantoja is well aware of the magnitude that this upcoming fight holds. He wants to put on a show, not just for himself, but also as a good representation of the entire flyweight division.
“Not just for me and Brandon, but for that division you know,” he said. “A lot of people talk about how maybe this fight should be co-main event or maybe main event. I think the flyweights deserve that. Maybe it’s time to put the flyweights on another level.”