UFC Twitter reacts to Alexandre Pantoja's gritty win over Steve Erceg at UFC 301

UFC flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja retained the title in a five-round war with Steve Erceg.
UFC 296: Pantoja v Royval
UFC 296: Pantoja v Royval / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

UFC flyweight titleholder Alexandre Pantoja ground out a back-and-forth battle with Steve Erceg to win at UFC 301.

Round 1 was a back-and-forth battle between Pantoja and Erceg. Pantoja came out with his signature aggressive style, pressured Erceg on the feet, and scored a big takedown. But, Erceg was able to work out of it and scramble through.

Erceg had a nice bounceback showing in Round 2, as he appeared to drain Pantoja and land multiple big punches to the chin. But, Pantoja was able to score two takedowns and withstand Erceg's boxing barrage. He showed off a big advantage with his wrestling.

Erceg landed a critical elbow strike to Pantoja's forehead in Round 3, opening a massive cut on the titleholder. Pantoja ate a left hook by Erceg in the same exchange, and somehow didn't get knocked down. The champion then closed the round in top mount after scoring a late takedown.

A visibly exhausted Pantoja in Round 4 dropped his activity level dramatically. Erceg had the bigger moments of the round, particularly with damage and output, frustrating Pantoja with his range. The blood streamed down Pantoja's head and into his left eye as he returned to his corner.

In the fifth and final round, Pantoja scored a big takedown and controlled the majority of the round on the ground. Erceg was able to limit any ground-and-pound damage with great transition defense against Pantoja. After five rounds, the judges ruled in Pantoja's favor by unanimous decision to retain the flyweight title.

Here's what UFC fighters and personalities had to say about Pantoja's victory.

Pantoja entered UFC 301 having won five consecutive fights, including a successful first title defense against Brandon Royval at UFC 296. He won the title by outpointing Brandon Moreno by split decision in July 2023. Pantoja's run to the title was catapulted by submissions of Royval and Alex Perez.

Erceg earned a title shot just three fights into his UFC tenure, after securing a second-round knockout of Matt Schnell in March. He made his promotional debut by defeating David Dvořák by unanimous decision at UFC 289, followed by a win over Alessandro Costa. Before signing with the UFC, Erceg made a name for himself by winning the Eternal MMA flyweight championship. Erceg entered UFC 301 on an 11-fight winning streak.

Pantoja and Erceg's UFC flyweight title headliner comes just a few years removed from the uncertain fate of the division. After Demetrious Johnson lost the throne, it was unclear if UFC president Dana White would keep the division or close it permanently. His decision to keep the 125-pound division afloat has resulted in some of the best wars in Octagon history, including Pantoja's 'Fight of the Year' contender against Moreno at UFC 290.

UFC 301 featured plenty of memorable moments. Catch up on the full results and highlights from UFC 301 here.