UFC flyweight contender Alexandre Pantoja has suggested that Brandon Moreno is scared of defending his title against him.
Pantoja was in action this past weekend at UFC Vegas 34. Against Brandon Royval in the main card opener, “The Cannibal” looked close to his best as he secured a second consecutive win with a rear-naked choke submission.
After defeats to Askar Askarov and former champion Deiveson Figueiredo over the past couple of years, back-to-back victories over the dangerous Manel Kape and Royval have brought Pantoja back into title contention.
If Pantoja is to claim gold in the near future, he’ll have to do so against a familiar foe, one in which he’s fared well against in the past. The Brazilian first faced Brandon Moreno during The Ultimate Fighter 24 in 2016. In the round of 16, Pantoja submitted “The Assassin Baby” in the second frame.
Despite not securing a finish, Pantoja also had his hand raised when the pair met inside the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 129 in 2018. “The Cannibal” moved to 2-0 against Moreno after securing a unanimous decision victory.
As a third fight between the two top flyweights becomes more likely, Pantoja has spoken about how the bout would go. Addressing the potential matchup following his victory on Saturday, the #3-ranked flyweight said he’s on the hunt for Moreno’s gold, describing the champ as “scared.”
“I say December because I think Brandon will want that time,”
Pantoja said. “I’m ready to fight. I don’t know if Moreno wants to fight this year or next year, but I know he knows I’m coming for the title. He knows my game. I beat him two times. I think he’s maybe a little scared because he lost to me via submission, and then when he had the possibility to get revenge against me, I destroyed him. I made it 30-26. I proved I’m better.” (h/t MMA Junkie)
Pantoja added that despite the development and form of Moreno, he’s also progressed as a fighter since they last clashed.
“When he came to the UFC, you see he’s good – but I’m better. He has the title, but he knows I’m much better when we fought three years ago.”
Despite Figueiredo’s calls for a trilogy fight, and the uncertain status of Askarov, Pantoja is confident that he’s next in line for a championship opportunity, something he expects to firmly make the most of.
“I’m the next for the title – he knows that,” Pantoja said. “Maybe he retires. I don’t know what’s in his mind. But he knows me and he knows my power with my hands and my grappling. I think I’m the most dangerous guy in that division.”
After being released from the UFC back in 2018, Moreno has made an incredible resurgence that’s seen him go unbeaten in his six fights since returning to the promotion, defeat the likes of Kai Kara-France and Royval, and submit “Deus Da Guerra” to become the first Mexican-born UFC champion.
Moreno will be hoping for a long reign on the 125-pound throne, beginning with his first title defense. Given his recent performance, “The Assassin Baby” could well be standing opposite Pantoja again by the end of the year.
Do you think Alexandre Pantoja can claim flyweight gold by defeating Brandon Moreno for the third time?