UFC flyweight contender Alexandre Pantoja has big expectations for his bout at UFC 277. Paired up against former title challenger Alex Perez, the Brazilian hopes that a win on Saturday night secures his own first crack at the belt.
In an interview with Combate, Pantoja explained why he thinks that the fight against Perez should be a title eliminator. Alexandre’s opinion, that would be only fair, given that he is on a two-fight winning streak and Alex has just fought for the belt in his most recent UFC outing.
“It’s a great fight, against a great opponent who’s been doing really well in this division,” Pantoja said. “It’s going to be a great challenge for me and for him, to see who fights for the title. I think it’s a super interesting fight. It could have been a rematch against Askarov, but I think Perez is a great opponent. His last fight was for the title, so he’s up there. I think it (a win) would secure me a title shot.”
In order to score the win, Pantoja believes that being aggressive is the best approach. Although his opponent is a grappler, Alexandre claims to have learned from his previous losses and feels ready to take on Perez’s style.
“He’s a wrestler,” Pantoja said. “He walks forward like me, but I think I’m much more aggressive and I always look for the finish. I see him trying to stall the fight to win by decision. I don’t know if he’s going to expose himself so much. I don’t think that would be ideal for him. I’ve learned a lot from my losses to Askarov and Deiveson. I’ve got great coaches and I think that makes all the difference. After facing Askarov, who was a wrestler that tried to grapple me all the time, trying to neutralize me, I think I’m vaccinated against that.”
Currently on a two-fight winning streak, Pantoja (24-5) defeated Brandon Royval and Manel Kape in his most recent bouts, respectively in August and February 2021. Before that, the 32-year-old dropped a unanimous decision to Askar Askarov, in July 2020.
Now, Pantoja is expected to face Perez at UFC 277, on July 30, in Dallas, Texas. The card is scheduled to be headlined by a rematch for the women’s bantamweight title fight between the champion, Julianna Pena, and former title-holder Amanda Nunes.