After reclaiming the flyweight title in the UFC 283 co-main event, Moreno headed backstage where he ran into Alexandre Pantoja, who served as the backup for Saturday’s title fight with hopes that he would eventually get the chance to face the winner. With a three-fight win streak and two previous victories over Moreno — including one that took place as an exhibition bout on The Ultimate Fighter — Pantoja was obviously bubbling over with excitement that he will likely be next in line for a title shot.
According to Moreno, Pantoja’s exuberance may have gone just a little bit overboard after what started as a friendly post-fight encounter turned confrontational in the moment.
“He came [at] me and he was very friendly with me, to be honest,” Moreno revealed at the UFC 283 post-fight press conference. “When everything started, he came to me and said ‘hey man, today I feel so happy for you, congrats for the belt’ whatever and at that point everything was fine.
“Then he started to ask me like ‘when is our fight? In two months? Three months? Tell me right now!’ Like, I don’t know to be honest. Then he started to look a little bit aggressive to be honest but my only point was let me enjoy it today. Give me today. Let me have this moment with my friends, with my training partners, with my wife, with my manager and then we can make [another fight] with the social media and the trash talk, if you want but give me this moment. That was my only point.”
Pantoja’s excitement was at least somewhat understandable given his status as the No. 1 contender in the division yet he’s been forced to sit idly by while waiting for Moreno and Figueiredo to finally settle their business.
With Moreno’s win on Saturday and Figueiredo already declaring his intention to move to bantamweight, it appears Pantoja finally gets his chance.
“Right now, he’s very excited and he’s a little bit desperate to get the fight for the title,” Moreno said about Pantoja. “Because with all this rivalry with Deiveson Figueiredo, we started in 2020 and we finished in 2023. It’s crazy, I understand the other challengers but I’m ready.”
For his part, Pantoja didn’t offer any more details on his backstage run-in with Moreno but he didn’t bite his tongue when giving an opinion on the fight he saw at UFC 283.
“I want to say I’m not impressed,” Pantoja said on the UFC 283 post-fight show. “Moreno’s good but I [beat] him two times. I’m ready to be next. I want to call him [out]. I will fight with him any place he wants. If he wants to fight in Mexico, whatever the place.
“I think that fight makes sense now. I beat him two times. Once when I finished him and the second one, I made it 30-26. A tough kid but all the time Moreno looks in my eyes, I see he’s afraid.”
At this point nearly five years have passed since Pantoja last defeated Moreno but the Brazilian still has that win along with their previous meeting on TUF to help boost his resume when it comes to title contention.
Moreno doesn’t seem to have any objections but he would like the UFC to consider Mexico as the ideal location for the fight, especially after he just traveled to Figueiredo’s backyard in Brazil.
“I think as a Mexican, we deserve a pay-per-view again in Mexico City,” Moreno said. “I think right now we have an amazing position where Yair Rodriguez is fighting in February, Alexa Grasso is fighting in March, and nothing is official but Irene Aldana looks like a really clear possibility for Amanda [Nunes].
“So I think this is the year for the Mexicans in mixed martial arts. I’m excited. For sure, I want to go there.”