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Alexandre Pantoja Claims UFC Flyweight Title by Defeating Brandon Moreno Once Again

Fans of the UFC’s flyweight division have been treated to some incredible title fights in recent years, and Saturday’s match between Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja was no exception.

After a grueling battle lasting five rounds, Pantoja (26-5) emerged as the new 125-pound champion, narrowly defeating the defending champion Moreno in a split decision at the co-main event of UFC 290 held at T-Mobile Arena.

Two of the judges scored the fight 48-47 in favor of Alexandre Pantoja, while the third judge had it 49-46 in Moreno’s favor.

UFC president Dana White revealed that Moreno had suffered a broken hand in the first round.

This encounter officially marked Pantoja’s second win over Moreno (21-7-2), although it could be considered his third. In 2016, Alexandre Pantoja submitted Moreno in a bout on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, but that result did not count towards their professional records. They fought again in 2018, with Pantoja winning by unanimous decision.

Saturday’s match was their closest and most skillful encounter to date.

Pantoja commented on Moreno’s improvement, saying, “Moreno has evolved so much. I didn’t expect such a tough opponent tonight, but I have worked incredibly hard for this. Over the past two years, I have put in a lot of effort, bringing my family from Brazil to the U.S. and training at American Top Team. If you know my story, you will appreciate my journey. I have worked tirelessly for this moment.”

The statistics from the fight highlight just how close it was. According to UFC Stats, Moreno landed slightly more strikes than Pantoja, with a total of 167-161. However, Alexandre Pantoja showcased his superiority on the ground, taking Moreno’s back multiple times and accumulating over eight minutes of control time. Although Moreno proved difficult to keep down, Pantoja managed to secure dominant positions during crucial moments, which likely influenced the judges’ scores.

Pantoja also scored a knockdown in the opening round with a powerful left hook. Moreno, 29, quickly recovered and never seemed close to being knocked out, but Pantoja managed to hurt him again later in the round with another left hook. Moreno rallied back in the second round, showcasing one of the best jabs in MMA. He repeatedly landed jabs on Pantoja, occasionally following up with left hooks to the body and head.

By the third round, Moreno’s shots had caused blood to flow from Pantoja’s forehead and nose. However, Alexandre Pantoja’s takedowns, work in the clinch, and body shots provided strong counterattacks to Moreno’s offense. The pace of the fight slowed down a bit in the fourth and fifth rounds when Pantoja secured grappling positions that posed a threat to Moreno, forcing him to be more cautious.

This victory brings an end to Moreno’s two-fight streak in title fights. Earlier this year, he concluded a rare four-fight rivalry with another Brazilian, Deiveson Figueiredo. Moreno unified the flyweight belt by finishing Figueiredo in the third round of their final meeting in January, but he now surrenders the belt in his first defense.


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