UFC 301: Alexandre Pantoja to defend flyweight belt vs. Steve Erceg

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 16: (R-L) Alexandre Pantoja of Brazil faces Brandon Royval in the UFC flyweight championship fight during the UFC 296 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 16, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Alexandre Pantoja will face a little-known challenger at UFC 301. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) (Cooper Neill via Getty Images)

UFC flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja will make his second title defense against Steve Erceg at UFC 301, the promotion announced Friday.

The event is scheduled for May 4 in Pantoja's hometown of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The UFC did not say whether the title fight will be the main event of the night.

Pantoja is coming off a unanimous decision win over challenger Brandon Royval at UFC 296 in December. It wasn't the most thrilling bout, but Pantoja impressed with his ground game and was one judge's vote short of pitching a shutout on the scorecards.

In Erceg, Pantoja is getting a little-known challenger. The Australian signed with the UFC less than a year ago and has since notched three straight wins over David Dvořák, Alessandra Costa and Matt Schnell. The Schnell win was the only finish of the group, and what a finish it was.

Erceg put Schnell to sleep with a single hard left early in the second round:

Erceg holds a career record of 12-1 and ranks No. 10 in the UFC flyweight rankings behind a number of potential contenders. None of his wins has been over a top-10 opponent in the division, but Pantoja compared Erceg favorably to Royval and former champion Brandon Moreno, via MMA Fighting:

“He’s a tough opponent,” Pantoja said on UFC Fight Pass show "Bancada." “He’s tougher than Royval and Moreno for me because he comes from down the rankings and he has nothing to lose. He’s ranked No. 10 and is fresh in the division. The thing in my favor is that I’m more experienced in fighting and that will be used by me in the octagon. I can’t make mistakes or underestimate him because he hits hard.”

Other fights confirmed for UFC 301 include Michel Pereira vs. Makhmud Muradov, Anthony Smith vs. Vitor Petrino and Joanderson Brito vs. Jack Shore.