The Final Verdict: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Steve Erceg

The Final Verdict: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Steve Erceg

Liam Lindsay|
May 05, 2024|

The main event of UFC 301 was a closely contested bout between dominant Flyweight Champion Alexandre "The Cannibal" Pantoja and streaking #10 ranked contender Steve "Astroboy" Erceg. Pantoja won a UD, with two judges scoring it 48-47 and the other 49-46.

However, many fans disagree with the decision, especially with the 49-46 scorecard. Let's examine the fight round by round and break it down. Then, we'll compare the judges' scorecards to the Verdict Scorecard and ultimately see who should've won this fight.

Official Judges: Fabio Alves, Sal D'Amato, David Tirelli


Round 1

The clearest round for Pantoja came in the first, like it usually does, with the Brazillian firing on all cylinders. It's a comfortable round to score, with Pantoja out-damaging Erceg with his blitzing shots and out-grappling him, with the Australian trying to find his shots in between. The two main focuses of the scoring criteria favor Pantoja, so he wins the round.

Judges Scorecards: 10-9 Pantoja x3

Verdict Scorecard: 10-9 Pantoja

Round 2

The second round was far more competitive, with Erceg finding more shots on the feet and establishing his jab and teep kicks. Pantoja secured two takedowns but couldn't achieve much on top, with no submission attempts and only three ground strikes in the final seconds of the round. Erceg landed a beautiful elbow around 3:30 into the round and, before that, was finding a lot of striking success, too. This round comes down to the value of the strikes on the feet, and Erceg put his foot down in the final two minutes.

Judges Scorecards: Fabio Alves, Sal D'Amato 10-9 Erceg, David Tirelli 10-9 Pantoja.

Verdict Scorecard: 9.66-9.36 Erceg


Round 3

Easily, the most competitive round of the fight was round three. Pantoja realized more success with his volume and grappling, but Erceg was still finding some damaging shots between Pantoja's blitzes. "The Cannibal" really ripped to the body in this round, especially with the knees in the clinch. Erceg, however, had the biggest shot of the round, landing a massive elbow that split Pantoja open badly. Pantoja secured a much-needed takedown with the cut gushing blood, but didn't achieve too much with it. This round really comes down to how much you value Pantoja's bodywork and Erceg's elbow.

Judges Scorecards: 10-9 Pantoja.

Verdict Scorecard: 9.57-9.46 Erceg

Round 4

The fourth was a clear round for the challenger, Erceg, who outstruck the Champion and did not allow him to secure takedowns. Erceg continued to pop away at Pantoja with his long shots and managed to sneak in more elbows on Pantoja, who was second-best in this round. Much like the first, it was a straightforward round to score.

Judges Scorecards: 10-9 Erceg.

Verdict Scorecard: 9.93-9.08 Erceg


Round 5

The fifth round was another competitive round. Pantoja attempted to blitz Erceg down but got caught at range by Erceg, who was fighting better on the feet. However, Erceg attempted two takedowns and got reversed both times, allowing Pantoja to rack up nearly 3 minutes of control time. This time, he did land ground strikes in the closing minute of the round, albeit not massive punches. This round asks, "Did Erceg create enough damage on the feet to outweigh Pantoja's significant control time?" Either way, there's no doubt shooting the takedowns cost "Astroboy" this fight.

Judges Scorecards: 10-9 Pantoja.

Verdict Scorecard: 9.80-9.21 Erceg

The Verdict Scorecard

Final Score: Alexandre Pantoja 47.69-47.37 Steve Erceg

The Verdict Scorecard shows the story of the fight, with Erceg winning the middle rounds competitively, but Pantoja had the higher overall score due to his success in rounds 1 and 5.

How did you score the fight? As a member of the Verdict Community, let us know with a comment below.

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