It took the Brazilian less than two minutes to tear through one-time title challenger Alex Perez as he opened the fight with a barrage of strikes and then finished the fight just moments later with a nasty neck crank/rear naked choke combination. The stoppage came at just 1:31 in the opening round as Pantoja secured his third win in a row overall in the flyweight division.
“I’m the next flyweight champion,” Pantoja shouted. “I proved one more time and I’m going to prove no matter how many times I need to. I come to finish whatever opponent. I know I’m ready for the title. I’m the champion right here.”
As soon as the fighters were released from their corners, Pantoja came out firing with machine-gun like fire in his punches as he looked to overwhelm Perez before he even had a chance to really react.
Within seconds, Pantoja tripped Perez and then immediately jumped on his back to begin looking for submissions after locking on a body triangle.
While Perez was able to stand back to his feet, Pantoja wasn’t going anywhere except to secure his position as he began working for the finish. Despite every effort from Perez to slip free, Pantoja eventually locked his arms around the head and he just started cranking away.
The pressure was just too much to take as Perez was forced to tap out with Pantoja immediately beginning his celebration after an emphatic victory on the pay-per-view main card.
As impressive as the win was for Pantoja, he still finds himself in purgatory with the interim title going up for grabs in the UFC 277 co-main event between Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara-France with the winner then expected to face Deiveson Figueiredo once he’s healthy enough to compete again later this year.
Either way, Pantoja proved he’s championship material with an incredibly strong showing with his victory on Saturday night.