Steve Erceg on Near Miss in UFC 301 Main Event: 'I Just Blew It'

UFC
May 6, 2024
Steve Erceg was perhaps one round away from pulling off the upset at UFC 301.

However, the opportunity slipped away from the game Australian in the fifth round against Alexandre Pantoja, when the reigning champion countered a takedown and assumed top position, ultimately bleeding out the clock to clinch his victory from there. While Erceg often got the better of his opponent during exchanges, that decision might have cost him dearly, as Pantoja earned scoredcards of 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 from the cageside judges.

“I thought that if I could win that last round at least, I’d give myself a chance,” Erceg said in his post-fight interview. “I just blew it.”

Erceg was something of a surprise title challenger, with just three promotional triumphs and less than a year in the promotion under his belt heading into UFC 301. However, he proved that he belonged in Saturday’s main event, as he made Pantoja work throughout the fight. “Astro Boy” believes the fight could have also hinged on a competitive third stanza.

“I thought the third [round], I think it was the third that was close enough, like he got me down a couple times but there was no real control, and I got up and beat him on the feet,” Erceg said.

While Erceg bloodied Pantoja on the feet with a well-placed elbow and landed his share of clean punching combinations, the Brazilian’s well-rounded attack proved to be the difference. This was especially true on the canvas, where Pantoja landed a career high nine takedowns while consistently getting the better of scrambles.

“I was surprised at how well he could scramble,” Erceg said. “I usually beat guys there. It was a shock.”

Reference: https://www.sherdog.com/news/news/Steve-Erceg-on-Near-Miss-in-UFC-301-Main-Event-I-Just-Blew-It-193579

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