Rising flyweight Alexandre Pantoja will have a chance to test himself against one of the division’s most experienced athletes when he meets Wilson Reis on Saturday at UFC 236. A 28-year-old with six wins by submission and eight more by knockout, the Brazilian also believes he knows how to deal with his opponent’s style when the moment finally arrives.
Despite displaying some impressive finishing skills, Pantoja believes in taking a more cautions approach in order to deal with seasoned vet and experienced Brazilian jiu-jitsu black-belt Reis. In an interview with Tatame, Alexandre explained he plans to take over the fight after the first five minutes.
“I think it’s inevitable that he’ll try to take me down, I believe that’s like a reflex for him,” Pantoja said. “I’m sure I’ll be able to conduct the fight just fine, I think that starting in the second round, I’ll be able to perfectly control the fight. Today, I feel very ready to get back up, defend takedowns and strike. I think it would be great if I could put some distance between us, since he’s a little shorter. But I won’t underestimate Wilson in any way, I know he’s a world champion in jiu-jitsu, he has submitted many talented people. This fight will be a turning point for me, so I’ll do everything to win in great fashion.”
Now training at American Top Team, Pantoja feels as ready as ever to take on the upper echelon of his weight class and emphasizes the differences of being able to focus his day on training and improving, as opposed to when he lived in Brazil.
“I believe I’m able to work more focused, because I’m 100% working, all day, no distractions, like I would have in Brazil,” Pantoja said. “I dedicate all 24 hours to my work, that has been a huge difference for me. You can see several Brazilians training two, three times a day at ATT, everyone is doing the same thing, so you see you’re really not doing anything out of the ordinary, you can’t complain. I train with Renato Moicano, Pedro Munhoz, Jussier Formiga, Adriano Moraes, it’s a lot of people, top shelf material. It’s the perfect team for me.”
Pantoja vs. Reis will be on ESPN prelims, which start at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT. UFC 236 will be headlined by an interim lightweight title fight between the current featherweight champion, Max Holloway, and lightweight contender Dustin Poirier.