Steve Erceg Excited About Fan Hostility Going into Alexandre Pantoja Title Fight

UFC
April 30, 2024
Steve Erceg is thrilled by the potential jeers and boos that will come his way as he challenges Alexandre Pantoja in front of the champion’s home crowd at UFC 301.

The stars aligned for Erceg to receive a flyweight title shot against Pantoja in the main event at UFC 301 on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Known to be among the most passionate MMA fans in the world, Brazilians don’t go easy on visiting fighters. Brazilian fans were even criticized for pelting Brandon Moreno with bottles after his split-decision win over Deiveson Figueiredo in their trilogy clash at UFC 283 in January 2023.

Erceg is definitely expecting a hostile crowd going into enemy territory and is even somewhat excited about it.

“I’m definitely prepared for it,” he told Submission Radio. “I’m honestly excited for the opportunity to get yelled at and asked to die and bottles thrown at me. I think it’s gonna be very exciting. I can’t wait to take the belt, get straight on a plane and fly home.”

Erceg hasn’t lost a fight since his sophomore pro bout against Sean Gauci in 2017. The Australian standout landed a title shot with a knockout victory over Matt Schnell in just his third UFC outing. Meanwhile Pantoja has fought a who’s who at 125 pounds while going 3-0 head-to-head against former champ Moreno, including one exhibition bout on “The Ultimate Fighter.” Going into the toughest test of his career, Erceg has pinpointed the most dangerous aspect of his opponent’s skill set.

“I think honestly it’s his mental toughness,” Erceg said. “Like he gets hit, he gets put into bad spots sometimes, but he just keeps going forward. He gets tired and he finds a way to keep pushing the whole fight. Somebody that’s not gonna give up is obviously a very dangerous person. He has great skills outside of that, but some people with great skills, they’re not winning the way they expect to be winning, they break. But I don’t think he will break. Someone has to take it away from him.”

While Erceg plans on trying his best to secure a finish, he expects to walk away with a dominant decision win.

“My prediction is that he’s obviously very tough. I’m gonna go out there and try to finish him, but in all likelihood it goes to a decision and I win a dominant decision,” he said.

Reference: https://www.sherdog.com/news/news/Steve-Erceg-Excited-About-Fan-Hostility-Going-into-Alexandre-Pantoja-Title-Fight-193503

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