UFC 301 results: Alexandre Pantoja ekes by Steve Erceg to retain title in thrilling five-round battle

Alexandre Pantoja retained the UFC flyweight title Saturday in his native Rio de Janeiro, but it wasn’t without some pushback.

In the UFC 301 main event at Farmasi Arna, Pantoja (28-5 MMA, 12-3 UFC) crept by Steve Erceg (12-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) to earn a unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) nod.

The battle was closely contested with multiple rounds up for debate. While Pantoja started strong, Erceg gained momentum in the second round as his boxing he came to life.

In Round 3, Erceg sliced Pantoja open badly, a cut that caused blood to squirt all over the canvas as the champion controlled the challenger on the mat. Pantoja showed off a well-rounded attack, as he mixed his striking and strong grappling from bell to bell to bell.

Round 4 arguably was Erceg’s strongest as his striking further came to life and his strong cardio showed. Pantoja combatted the challenger’s efforts with wits, pacing, and adaptiveness as he eked out the final round – and the decision.

With the victory, Pantoja successfully defends his title for the second time. He first won the title by split decision against Brandon Moreno in July, then defended it against Brandon Royval in December. Pantoja extends his winning streak to six.

Erceg’s title challenge came in just his fourth promotional fight. The title fight booking was a surprise to many, who expected Erceg to need at least another fight or two before he competed for gold. Even in defeat, however, Erceg proved himself challenger status-worthy through his performance.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 301 results include:

  • Champ Alexandre Pantoja def. Steve Erceg via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46)

  • Jose Aldo def. Jonathan Martinez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

  • Anthony Smith def. Vitor Petrino vs. via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 2:00

  • Michel Pereira def. Ihor Potieria via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 0:54

  • Caio Borralho def. Paul Craig via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 2:10

  • Joanderson Brito def. Jack Shore via TKO (injury) – Round 2, 3:35

  • Iasmin Lucindo def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

  • Myktybek Orolbai def. Elves Brener via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)

  • Drakkar Klose def. Joaquim Silva via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

  • Mauricio Ruffy def. Jamie Mullarkey via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:42

  • Dione Barbosa def. Ernesta Kareckaite via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

  • Ismael Bonfim def. Vinc Pichel via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

  • Alessandro Costa def. Kevin Borjas via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 1:35

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 301.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie