Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Brandon Moreno Names The “Big Mistake” Alexandra Pantoja Is Making

UFC Flyweight Champion Brandon Moreno has warned Alexandre Pantoja that he’s making a “big mistake” by suggesting the Mexican is scared.

Moreno, who had previously been released from the promotion, reached the 125-pound mountaintop following an undefeated six-fight run since his return to the UFC in 2019. After a split draw opposite Askar Askarov, victories over Kai Kara-France, Jussier Formiga, and Brandon Royval secured “The Assassin Baby” his first championship opportunity on MMA’s biggest stage.

After a Fight of the Year-worthy majority draw against then-flyweight king Deiveson Figueiredo, Moreno overwhelmed “Deus Da Guerra” when the pair met again at UFC 263 in June. With a third-round rear-naked choke, Moreno dethroned the Brazilian, and in doing so, became the first Mexican-born champion in UFC history.

Brandon Moreno
Brandon Moreno, Credit: AFP

Since his crowning, the topic surrounding Moreno’s first title defense has been much-discussed. Talk of former UFC Bantamweight Champion Cody Garbrandt moving down and immediately challenging for gold was shut down after his divisional debut versus Kara-France in December was announced. The other option, a trilogy fight with former champ Figueiredo, was seemingly shut down by Moreno after he suggested the Brazilian needs to record a win before securing the chance to reclaim the title.

That appeared to leave the UFC Vegas 34 clash between Alexandre Pantoja and Brandon Royval as a number one contender clash, especially with Askar Askarov recovering from an injury. After an impressive victory for Pantoja, and a post-fight callout, the groundwork seems to be laid for the pair to meet in the cage for the third time.

Having already gotten the better of the Mexican twice before, “The Cannibal” recently suggested Moreno is a “little scared” of losing to him yet again. According to the champ, that claim is a dangerous one for Pantoja to make.

“I think this kid is making a big mistake saying I’m scared of him,” Moreno told MMA Junkie in Spanish. “I’ve never been afraid. I don’t know if I’m too brave or too stupid, but I’ve never been scared, and much less now that I feel at the best point of my life. I’m 27 years old, and I’ve never felt as good as I feel now.

“I can’t deny the truth. He beat me twice, and I’m not going to be able to shake that off. That’s there, that’s on the record and on the history of my life and career. The only thing I can control is the present and keep advancing and evolving like I’ve done until now. I haven’t received an official offer, but if it’s Alexander Pantoja, he’s making a big mistake saying I’m scared of him because that’s a lie.”

While maintaining that he’s the calm, focused, and always-happy Moreno that we’ve come to know in the UFC, “The Assassin Baby” warned that Pantoja will be waking up something in the “other guy” if he continues to suggest that the Mexican is afraid.

“He’s not waking anything up in me, I’m good,” Moreno said. “I’m always focused and I’m always very happy, but he is waking up something in the other guy. And the other guy doesn’t play games. I’m cool, I’m relaxed, but the other guy is not. Don’t play with him.”

Since decision losses to Figueiredo and Askarov delayed Pantoja’s title charge, back-to-back wins against Manel Kape and Royval have put “The Cannibal” in prime position to challenge his old foe for the flyweight gold.

Having already defeated Moreno by a unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Usman, and with a submission on The Ultimate Fighter: Tournament of Champions, Pantoja will attempt to secure a hat-trick of wins over the 27-year-old if they collide later this year.

Do you think Alexandre Pantoja could dethrone Brandon Moreno if the Mexican faces him for his first title defense?

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