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Knee surgery forced Alexandre Pantoja to turn down UFC title fight with Brandon Moreno

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Alexandre Pantoja is coming off UFC wins over Brandon Royval and Manel Kape.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Deiveson Figueiredo is getting his trilogy bout with Brandon Moreno at UFC 269 on Dec. 11 — and he has Alexandre Pantoja to thank for it.

Pantoja was expected to face the flyweight champion next after submitting Brandon Royval with a rear-naked choke this past August but had to go under the knife to fix a knee injury, MMA Fighting has learned.

The American Top Team fighter had a knee injury going into the Royval bout and still managed to win in the second round. The injury only worsened in the fight, sources said, which ultimately forced Pantoja to go under the knife. There’s still no timetable for his return to competition.

Pantoja (24-5) holds two wins over Moreno, one being a submission finish during an exhibition match during The Ultimate Fighter 24. They met again two years later in Chile, with the Brazilian again winning a decision.

Moreno vs. Figueiredo 3 will go down at the UFC’s final pay-per-view show of the year in Las Vegas. Their first encounter took place in Dec. 2020 and ended via majority draw. Moreno got upper hand six months later, tapping “Deus da Guerra” with a rear-naked choke.