Luck was just not on Alexandre Pantoja’s side for a rematch against UFC men’s flyweight champion Brandon Moreno.
Following a win over Brandon Royval in his last outing, and having already defeated the champion twice before, once on The Ultimate Fighter, it seemed that the ‘Cannibal’ had a clear path to the title. However, his coach Marcos Parrumpinha revealed that a knee surgery threw a wrench into their plans of ending 2021 with UFC gold.
In an interview with Ag Fight, Parrumpinha said the UFC had even offered them the fight against Moreno following the Royval win, but Pantoja was not in condition to accept it. Now that Brandon is scheduled to defend his title against Deiveson Figueiredo in December, the coach hopes Alexandre has a speedy recovery to get back into the title mix.
“It was really hard (to turn the fight down), because Pantoja has already defeated the champion twice rather easily, so we know what his potential is,” Parrumpinha said. “We’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a while now, so it was hard. We couldn’t take the fight because Pantoja had left the operating room hours before the UFC had offered us the fight. There was no time to be ready to fight on December 11.
“He’s a tough guy,” Parrumpinha continued. “All he thinks about is getting well again so he can beat any opponent and get invited to fight for the belt again. He has no time to think about getting sad.”
Currently on a two-fight winning streak, Pantoja (24-5) had scored a unanimous decision win over Manel Kape prior to his submission of Royval, back in August. The 31-year-old’s last defeat happened in July 2020, when he dropped a unanimous decision to another top contender in Askar Askarov.