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UFC 301: Aussie Erceg falls just short in claiming flyweight title


Australia’s Steve Erceg has narrowly fallen short of claiming the UFC flyweight title with an unanimous decision defeat against Alexandre Pantoja at UFC 301.

Fighting in front of Pantoja’s home-town crowd in Rio de Janeiro, Erceg was only condemned to defeat after losing the final round against the Brazilian champion.

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Pantoja defended his UFC flyweight title against Erceg by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46), with a victory in the final round likely getting him over the line.

Erceg acquitted himself excellently through the first four rounds, maintaining an advantage in striking, while Pantoja was stronger in grappling.

With the fight going down to the fifth and final round, Erceg saw two of his takedowns reversed, allowing the Brazilian to gain the ascendency in the fight.

Post-fight, Erceg reflected on the final round where he was defeated in an area of his own strength.

“I was surprised by how well he scrambled, I usually am better than that,” Erceg said.

“I thought if I could win the last round I’d give myself a chance.”

In front of his home-town crowd, Pantoja urged the fans to stay before he paid tribute to Erceg’s effort.

“Stay in the arena please! I am in here to fight the best in the world, what a tough guy, what a tough division,” he said.

“He’s an incredible guy, I need a bit of a break, I’ve fought three times this year, it’s time for me to samba with my girl.”

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