3 possible next opponents for Alexandre Pantoja

Alexandre Pantoja defended his title at UFC 301 via a unanimous decision over Steve Erceg.
Alexandre Pantoja
Alexandre Pantoja / Steve Marcus/GettyImages
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2. Muhammad Mokaev

Muhammad Mokaev (12-0) arguably could have challenged Pantoja at UFC 301. Mokaev is 6-0 in the UFC but unfortunately, had a lackluster win in his latest bout against Alex Perez and was passed over for the title opportunity. However, this does not diminish Mokaev's championship potential or the likelihood he claims one of the next title opportunities.

Mokaev is only 23 years old and has already established himself as the No. 6 flyweight contender as well as one of the most exciting prospects in the UFC. He has exceptional wrestling, scrambles, and submission ability that can potentially offer Pantoja massive resistance in the grappling exchanges.

It seemed when Pantoja vs. Erceg was originally booked that Mokaev was being passed over or ignored despite being a deserving contender. This may mean he is one more impressive performance away from asserting himself as Pantoja's sole next opponent. Time and youth are on Mokaev's side and he has several options in the top five if he doesn't immediately get the next title shot.

3. Steve Erceg

Erceg overperformed at UFC 301 and cemented himself as one of the best flyweight fighters in the world. He arguably gave Pantoja one of his toughest fights in the UFC so far and demonstrated an array of skills comparable to any of the other contenders at the division's top.

Erceg stood well with Pantoja and controlled a lot of the exchanges, was able to force scrambles on the ground and fend off some of Pantoja's takedowns, and besides some late fight blunders could have made a case for himself to walk away with the belt around his waist.

A rematch wouldn't be out of the question, given how exciting this fight was and how well-matched the two combatants were. All of the top-10 fighters at flyweight stack up well against one another and each seems to have the skillsets necessary to be a champion. Giving Erceg another opportunity allows Pantoja to try earning a more convincing victory over a fighter ranked so far below him. It also allows Erceg to put into practice any lessons he learned from the first fight and possibly come away with a better performance.

Whether Erceg receives an immediate title rematch or a number one contender fight, he demonstrated he has the necessary skills to potentially challenge Pantoja again in the near future.


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