This was the third time Pantoja and Moreno faced off, with Pantoja winning both their 2016 meeting on The Ultimate Fighter and their 2018 encounter on a UFC Fight Night card.
Pantoja looked to pressure Moreno right away, but Moreno put him in a body lock and pressed him against the cage. There wasn't much activity until Pantoja broke out of it, spinning out and landing a knee. Moreno landed a combination, and after some back-and-forth in a clinch, Moreno briefly pinned him again against the cage before another combination.
Pantoja, however, knocked Moreno down with a left hook and busted him open. Moreno got back to his feet, but Pantoja pieced Moreno apart with combinations and chased him down relentlessly.
Alexandre Pantoja edges out Brandon Moreno in split decision to win flyweight title at UFC 290
Pantoja continued to pressure Moreno early in the second, but Moreno found his range and landed jabs and straights, firing back on Pantoja. With a little over three minutes left, Moreno got to Pantoja's back while standing and took Pantoja down, looking for a choke. Pantoja was able to get out of the choke attempt after about a minute but looked fatigued. Pantoja was able to fire off a flurry in the closing seconds of the round, but Moreno caught a kick and was able to dump Pantoja to the ground.
Despite feelings the momentum would continue on Pantoja's side, he still managed to score a takedown and got to Moreno's back, threatening with his own choke. Moreno, however, was able to get out of it. Moreno worked his jabs and combinations as Pantoja tried to power through. Pantoja got another takedown with about 90 seconds left in the third. Moreno, however, got. a reversal and the two traded blows while on the ground.
The two did not slow their pace for the fourth round, with the two continuing to pound away for the first minute or so. Then, Pantoja was able to score a takedown of Moreno. And while Moreno was briefly able to get back to his feet, the round was all Pantoja. Pantoja went for an arm-triangle choke, but Moreno was able to reverse and bring the fight back to the feet, with the two trading to the horn.
The two went back-and-forth throughout round five, going blow for blow in exchanges. Pantoja, however, scored a takedown and spent the second half of the round locked to Moreno's back, looking for a choke — or at least trying to limit Moreno's striking.
One judge scored the fight 49-46 for Moreno, but the other two scored the fight 48-47 for Pantoja, earning him the nod and title.
UFC 290 takes place on Saturday, July 8, from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. Follow along with FanSided MMA, who is on site, for all your live news and highlights.