Brandon Moreno takes on a familiar face in his next title defense.
MMA Fighting confirmed with sources with knowledge of the matchup that the reigning flyweight champion will fight Alexandre Pantoja (25-5) at UFC 290 on July 8 in Las Vegas to cap off the promotion’s 2023 International Fight Week. Instagram account freak.mma was first to report the matchup, with ESPN later reporting that the bout was confirmed by UFC Chief Business Officer Hunter Campbell.
This will be the second official meeting between Moreno and Pantoja — currently No. 1 and No. 6 respectively in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings — and the third overall. The two first met in a two-round fight during a flyweight season of The Ultimate Fighter in 2016, which Pantoja won by second-round submission. TUF bouts are considered to be exhibitions, but the pair fought in a more official capacity at UFC Chile in May 2018. Pantoja again emerged as the victor, that time by unanimous decision.
Since that second encounter, both have gone on to great success, with Moreno (21-6-2) currently in his second reign as UFC flyweight champion after winning a tetralogy bout against Deiveson Figueiredo, and Pantoja racking up six wins in his past eight fights.
UFC 290 takes place July 8 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. A featherweight title unification bout between undisputed champion Alexander Volkanovski and interim champion Yair Rodriguez is also expected to take place on the card.
Guilherme Cruz and Mike Heck contributed to this report.