Best UFC 301 Bets: Alexandre Pantoja vs Steve Erceg Picks

Best UFC 301 Bets: Alexandre Pantoja vs Steve Erceg Picks

The UFC returns to Brazil for a major pay-per-view event as flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja defends his crown for the second time on home soil against surprise contender Steve Erceg at UFC 301.

Pantoja is returning to his home city to defend his championship for the second time since he won it back in December at UFC 296, while Erceg comes into the bout on an 11-fight win streak.

We'll take a look at the main event of this fight card and provide you with our best free UFC picks to see if we can earn you some extra cash while watching an incredible fight card.

UFC 301BetOnlineBetUSBovada
Alexandre Pantoja-200-215-230
Steve Erceg+170+175+190

Learn more about how to bet on the UFC here.

UFC 301 information

  • Saturday, May 4th 2024
  • Farmasi Arena, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
  • Flyweight championship (125-pound limit)
  • 5 x 5 minute rounds
  • Main card starts at 22:00 ET

Alexandre Pantoja vs Steve Erceg

An intriguing main event will see the first-time champion defending his title against the number ten ranked flyweight in the world, in a fight that was put together out of necessity.

After a stacked UFC 300 card in April, this event needed a hometown hero to headline the event but a lack of available 125-pound fighters meant that Erceg was given the nod despite having just three fights in the company and just one finish in those fights.

His first appearance in the company saw him claim a unanimous decision win over David Dvorak in June 2023, before another dominant performance over Alessandro Costa in November 2023 earned him another decision win. His last outing came in March 2024 at UFC 299, where he landed a stunning knockout victory over Matt Schnell.

That took his professional record to 12-1 with two knockouts and six submission wins, and he'll be hoping to win the title within a year of entering the organization.

But he'll be coming up against a champion keen to cement himself as the number one in the world in Pantoja, who comes into this fight on a streak of five wins in a row.

The experienced Brazilian started that run with a controversial decision win over Manel Kape back in February 2021, which was followed up by a second-round submission win over Brandon Royval six months later.

He earned another submission win when he submitted Alex Perez with a neck crank after just 91 seconds at UFC 277 to earn a title shot against Brandon Moreno, where he came out on the right side of a controversial split decision at UFC 290 in a back-and-forth war.

His first defense of that title came in a rematch against Royval, and this time he earned a one-sided decision win at UFC 296 to retain the title, and take his professional record to 27-5 with eight knockouts and nine submission wins.

Route to victory

Both of these fighters are primarily grapplers, but usually, that means both athletes will look to keep the fight standing in order to keep it away from the other person's strengths.

However with the way that Pantoja fights, that will suit him nicely as he is a terrific boxer with good footwork, strong kicks and decent power. His best strengths are on the ground though and he usually looks to mix in his takedowns at the end of combinations, then work for control before attempting submissions once he's ground them down a bit.

But Erceg is a tremendous grappler also and will be more comfortable with that type of fight than standing and striking on the feet.

It may be in Pantoja's best interests to strike on the feet, using his hand speed and movement to keep Erceg on the back foot and only grapple when necessary as that would leave the door ajar for the challenger to have some success.

On the other hand, Erceg will want this on the ground where he can control the pace and the action or he will want a war on the feet where his power advantage could come into play with his big punches and tight technique.

Steve Erceg to beat Alexandre Pantoja

Check out our review for Bovada sports betting here.

UFC picks: Alexandre Pantoja to retain the title

There is a reason that the UFC have a rankings system within their organization, and it's to ensure that the right people are fighting at the right level at all times.

Erceg is a super-talented grappler and he has plenty of potential, but he is ranked number ten in the world and absolutely nobody was calling for him to get a title shot any time soon based off his most recent win, regardless of how impressive it was.

The only reason he has got this shot is because Pantoja needed a fight and the UFC needed a Brazilian star to main event their pay-per-view card, so the stars aligned for Erceg.

There have been some huge upsets in recent memory when it comes to title fights, with Sean Strickland's win over Israel Adesanya coming to mind immediately, but this seems like an even bigger hurdle than that if it were to come to fruition.

Pantoja is more experienced in the title picture, has had five-round fights before and is the better fighter in every department. Expect a controlled performance and potentially even a statement finish to prove that, with Pantoja to retain his belt in his home town.

Alexandre Pantoja to beat Steve Erceg

Check out our review for BetOnline sports betting here.