UFC 301 predictions: Main card preview and latest betting lines | Pantoja vs. Erceg

Summarize this material to 1000 words optimum
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will return to the pay-per-view (PPV) market simply 3 weeks after the extraordinary UFC 300 extravaganza, so expectations for this occasion will undoubedtly be reduced, however it’s likewise worth pointing out that UFC 301 will be headlined by the five-round title battling pitting present 125-pound champ Alexandre Pantoja against No. 10-ranked flyweight competitor Steve Erceg.
Why does that matter?

Because everybody dislikes flyweights due to the fact that they stop working to move the needle and don’t get PPV points. The great news is, a minimum of from a live gate viewpoint, is that regional fans will end up to support Pantoja, along with previous UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo. “Junior” go back to 135-pounds to toss hands with spotting bantamweight competitor Jonathan Martinez in the UFC 301 co-main occasion.
The action occurs this Sat. night (May 4, 2024) inside Farmasi Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Also getting work done this weekend in Rio is previous light heavyweight title opposition Anthony Smith, who hits unbeaten power puncher Vitor Petrino. In addition, previous welterweight bruiser and present dance phenom Michel Pereira stays at middleweight to fight late replacement Ihor Potieria, not long after Paul Craig and Caio Borralho get things began at 185 pounds.
Let’s have a look at UFC 301’s 5-fight PPV primary card listed below.

125 lbs.: UFC Flyweight Champion Alexandre “The Cannibal” Pantoja (27-5) vs. Steve “Astro Boy” Erceg (12-1)Latest DraftKings betting lines: Pantoja (-185) | Erceg (+154)
It’s type of disconcerting to consider how various the UFC flyweight department was at the start of 2023 compared to the start of 2024. In less than a year, Brandon Moreno spent the flyweight crown and took a leave of lack, not long after Deiveson Figueiredo left the department completely to attempt his luck at bantamweight. That took place simply a couple of weeks after Top 5 competitor Askar Askarov requested for (and was approved) his release from the promo. While all of this was occurring, Steve Erceg was battling Soichiro Hirai at Eternal MMA in Western Australia. Now he’s ranked No. 10 worldwide and contending for a UFC title against Alexandre Pantoja.
In its present type, you can argue that Pantoja is close to clearing out the flyweight department. In addition to toppling Moreno for the 125-pound strap, “The Cannibal” has actually currently gotten rid of Manel Kape, Alex Perez, and Brandon Royval. He did lose to Figueiredo and Askarov; however hey, they are no longer UFC flyweights so it doesn’t matter. Amir Albazi and Muhammad Mokaev are hiding in the shadows and will no doubt have their eyes on the UFC 301 headliner this weekend in Rio.
It’s difficult to choose against Pantoja considering what he’s done so far in the department. “The Cannibal” is a shown product against a few of the most significant names at 125 pounds and simply as significantly, has actually developed his resilience when the fists begin flying. He hasn’t been ideal, a minimum of in regards to wins and losses, however that’s what occurs when you regularly fight the very best of the very best — something Erceg has yet to do in the 15 months he’s been contending inside the Octagon. You can argue that “Astro Boy” currently has 2 wins over ranked challengers — Matt Schnell and David Dvorak — however neither fighter has a winning record in UFC and are just ranked due to the fact that the promo needed to hunt up 15 names to fill the flyweight chart (advancing my argument that we ought to restrict the rankings to 10).
Erceg is skilled, his battles have actually shown that, and he’s a well-rounded contender who can provide issues for a smaller sized challenger like Pantoja. That stated, I haven’t seen enough from the Aussie to think he can deal with the more skilled champ. Especially one like “The Cannibal,” who grows in full-blown wars. Barring a ridiculous error that gets him guillotined, anticipate Pantoja to overwhelm “Astro Boy” and close the program early.
Prediction: Pantoja def. Erceg by technical knockout
135 lbs.: Jose “Junior” Aldo (31-8) vs. Jonathan “Dragon” Martinez (19-4)Latest DraftKings betting lines: Aldo (+120) | Martinez (-142)
Jose Aldo, like lots of fighters in the golden of their profession, can’t appear to find out what he desires or where he belongs. He most likely doesn’t wish to fight any longer, which is why he attempted retiring, however then doesn’t understand what else to do with himself. Or perhaps he got tired and missed out on the spotlight; just “Junior” understands for sure, however he’s made it rather clear throughout the years that his time inside the cage is reaching its expiration date. I’m sure a UFC payday, together with the excitement of battling in front of an arena filled with shrieking Brazilian fans, was a simple sell from matchmakers — however he definitely won’t get a simple fight. Not to discuss, the previous UFC featherweight champ turns 38 in simply a couple of months and hasn’t completed in almost 2 years.
It’s difficult to state what variation of Aldo we’ll get on fight night. His last efficiency was a choice loss to Merab Dvalishvili, however this was long before we understood what “The Machine” can and to his credit, “Junior” packed all 16 takedown efforts. To his challenge, he was outstruck by a 5’6” wrestler with a 68” reach. Prior to that, Aldo rattled off 3 straight choice wins over some beautiful difficult veterans, consisting of Pedro Munhoz and Marlon Vera. My most significant issue heading into UFC 301 will be the Brazilian’s cardio, which was never ever fantastic to start with, however definitely an enhancement from his featherweight days.
Jonathan Martinez was a middling bantamweight who had a hard time to remain constant when he initially talked to UFC, assembling a 4-3 record and looking relatively typical at the same time. I don’t understand what he did to lastly turn the corner, possibly he progressed as a fighter and settled into his prime, however since his knockout loss to Davey Grant at UFC Vegas 21, Martinez has actually been absolutely nothing except unstoppable. Over the last 3 years, the 30 year-old “Dragon” has actually acquired 6 straight wins, ending Said Nurmagomedov’s winning streak and stopping both Cub Swanson and Adrain Yanez with penalizing leg kicks. Martinez outstruck 9 of his 10 challengers in success under the UFC banner and the one fighter to land a greater volume (Nurmagomedov), Martinez was much more precise — by a significant margin.
That might be the choosing aspect at UFC 301. Aldo is a remarkable striker however in some cases has a hard time to put his foot on the gas, like the time he battled Vera and just handled a paltry 44 considerable strikes throughout 3 rounds of action. We likewise need to accept the reality that Aldo is not the speed devil he utilized to be, and is most likely to have difficulty discovering his timing early in the fight. A win for “Junior” would be a good bonus offer for home town fans and let’s be truthful, who doesn’t enjoy fond memories? I simply believe Martinez is called in and rather honestly, the remarkable fighter at this phase of their particular professions.
Prediction: Martinez def. Aldo by technical knockout
205 lbs.: Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (37-19) vs. “Merciless” Vitor Petrino (11-0)Latest DraftKings betting lines: Smith (+425) | Petrino (-575)
Anthony Smith invested the last 6 months trying to talk himself into a title fight against ruling 205-pound champ Alex Pereira. Trying to produce buzz amongst the MMA fanbase, which in turn can affect matchmakers wanting to offer tickets and PPV purchases, prevails amongst fighters unafraid to exploit their platform for improvement. But let’s likewise acknowledge that “Lionheart” lost 3 of his last 4 and got smashed into a million pieces by light heavyweight “War Horse” Khalil Rountree Jr. at UFC Vegas 83. Watching Smith project for “Poatan” like he’s been ripping through the 205-pound ranks is humiliating … and a little delusional.
The most outstanding thing Smith has actually done over the last 5 years is lose to then-champion Jon Jones at UFC 235. The previous middleweight is well spoken, appears routinely as a desk expert throughout UFC occasions, and co-hosts a podcast with retired UFC fighter Michael Bisping. His presence has actually kept him appropriate, not his efficiencies inside the cage. Let’s not forget that Smith has actually 19 losses and has been ended up 15 times in his expert profession. The reality that he’s not using adult diapers and consuming supper through a straw is absolutely nothing except a wonder.
After steamrolling the competitors on the regional circuit, primarily around Curitiba, Brazil, Vitor Petrino got his possibility to shine on Dana White’s “Contender Series” back in late 2022. A UFC agreement quickly followed, thanks to his obliteration of fellow Brazilian bruiser Rodolfo Bellato, and Petrino lost little time in making his mark. “Merciless” is presently 4-0 under the UFC banner with 2 surfaces and is coming off a commanding efficiency against Tyson Pedro at UFC Vegas 87 simply last month. The unranked Brazilian will quit 2 inches in height to “Lionheart” however compensates with a one-inch reach benefit.
I would anticipate Smith to begin striving takedowns once the bombs start dropping in Rio, I’m simply uncertain how reliable he’ll be against a challenger who has actually currently acquired 15 takedowns in simply 4 journeys to the Octagon. Petrino is likewise 11 years more youthful than Smith at 26 and has far less wear-and-tear on his body. The odds swing greatly in favor of the Brazilian and we haven’t seen much from Smith over the last couple of years to challenge that line. To his credit, Smith is hardly ever in a boring fight (evidenced by 7 post-fight efficiency benefits) so we ought to get a lot of action for nevertheless long this lasts.
Not long, if Petrino battles real to form.
Prediction: Petrino def. Smith by technical knockout
185 lbs.: Michel “Demolidor” Pereira (30-11, 2 NC) vs. Ihor “The Duelist” Potieria (20-5)Latest DraftKings betting lines: Pereira (-625) | Potieria (+455)
Michel Pereira was a huge welterweight who is lastly at middleweight where he belongs, thanks to his battles on the scale. It’s regrettable that UFC CEO Dana White needed to threaten “Demolidor” in order to get him to lastly make the modification, due to the fact that I’m quite sure the Brazilian would currently be ranked in the Top 15 by now.
Still simply thirty years old, Pereira has an opportunity to make some sound at 185 pounds and currently showed how harmful he can be, thanks to back-to-back wins — and back-to-back surfaces — over Andre Petrovski (UFC Vegas 81) and Michal Oleksiejczuk (UFC 299). Unfortunately he won’t be checked here, as Ihor Potieria is actioning in on short-notice for the hurt Makhmud Muradov. Even with a complete camp, I’m uncertain “The Duelist” would be anybody’s choice.
Potieria is a previous light heavyweight and will have a size benefit on fight night, holding two-inch benefits in both height and reach. The modification in weight classes appears to have actually settled, based upon his consentaneous choice success over up-and-coming possibility Robert Bryczek at UFC Vegas 86. That efficiency sufficed to snap a 2-fight losing streak and pull Potieria’s record to 2-3 inside the Octagon, though I believe UFC CEO Dana White had larger prepare for the Ukrainian when he signed him from “Contender Series” back in late 2021. The great news is that Potieria is still simply 27 years-old and might have yet to reach his battling prime. How well he carries out against Pereira is most likely to address that concern.
Every “Demolidor” fight is a workout in violence and it’s up to “The Duelist” to preserve his composure and not get drawn into a firefight. I understand that’s much easier stated than done from outside the cage, however evaluating by his “Fight of the Night” loss against Rodolfo Bellato at UFC Austin, I anticipate Potieria to fight fire with fire. And much like the Metallica tune, the ending is near. A first-round surface would not shock me.
Prediction: Pereira def. Potieria by technical knockout
185 lbs.: Paul “Bear Jew” Craig (17-7-1) vs. Caio “The Natural” Borralho (15-1, 1 NC)Latest DraftKings betting lines: Craig (+470) | Borralho (-650)
Paul Craig turns 37 this fall and has actually been contending for UFC because late 2016, a period of almost 8 years throughout 17 defend a UFC record of 9-7-1, with includes his submission loss to Brendan Allen at UFC Vegas 82 simply a couple of months back. I don’t believe it’s outrageous to recommend that if Craig was going to make a run at the department title he most likely would have done it by now; significance, we’ve currently seen the very best variation of “Bear Jew” and most likely won’t get any surprises on fight night.
That doesn’t make the middleweight Scot a simple out, he’s got a hazardous submission video game and strong offending fumbling. More significantly, a minimum of from a fan’s viewpoint, is that Craig has 8 post-fight efficiency benefits, worth a combined $400,000. That implies win or lose, we’re most likely to get an interesting fight, or a minimum of have the Coatbridge crusher head out on his guard. There’s very little more we can ask from a primary card fighter so this ought to be an enjoyable scrap, for nevertheless long it lasts.
Caio Borralho created an outstanding operate on the local circuit defending promos like Future FC and Arena Combat in his native Brazil before making a chance at UFC fame on Dana White’s “Contender Series” back in Sept. 2021. A choice success over Aaron Jeffery was inadequate to score a UFC agreement; nevertheless, “The Natural” was welcomed back for another shot the following month, where Borralho sealed the handle a violent, first-round surface over Jesse Murray.
The Brazilian would complete 5 times over the next 2 years and return a best UFC record of 5-0 with one submission surface, sufficient for “Performance of the Night” at UFC Vegas 72. Like Craig, the 31 year-old Borralho does a great task of executing his battling to manage the speed of his battles and keep leg kicks at bay, though he didn’t require any battling to outpoint Abus Magomedov at UFC São Paulo.
The bookmakers have Borralho as the large preferred, which has simply as much to do with the decrease of Craig as it does the increase of “The Natural,” though I wouldn’t be so fast to count “Bear Jew” out, who holds significant benefits in both height and reach. The risk of an upset looms big, however the safe choice is Borralho by interruption. He’s more youthful, quicker, has much cleaner striking and adequate fumbling to neutralize his fight night opponent, even with his glaring size inconsistency.
Prediction: Borralho def. Craig by technical knockout

LIVE! Watch UFC 301 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

RAUCUS GO BACK TO RIO! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) goes back to Farmasi Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sat., May 4, 2024, including Flyweight champ, Alexandre Pantoja, safeguarding his belt against unbeaten opposition, Steve Erceg, in the pay-per-view (PPV) centerpiece of the night. UFC 301’s co-main occasion functions “The King of Rio,” Jose Aldo, going back to the Bantamweight department for the very first time in nearly 2 years to handle Jonathan Martinez. UFC 301’s PPV primary card (see it here) will likewise include Anthony Smith vs. Vitor Petrino, Michel Pereira vs. Ihor Potieria therefore a lot more. It’s must-watch action! UFC 301 start time arranged for 6 p.m. ET (Prelims) and 10 p.m. ET (PPV).

Don’t miss out on a single second of legendary face-punching action!

MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow protection of the whole UFC 301 fight card RIGHT HERE, beginning with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the staying undercard balance on ESPN2/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV primary card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To have a look at the most recent and biggest UFC 301: “Pantoja vs. Erceg” news and notes make sure to strike up our extensive occasions archive right here. For the upgraded and completed UFC 301 fight card and ESPN+ lineup click on this link.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here