Steve Erceg unveils his game plan for Alexandre Pantoja fight at UFC 301 in Brazil

Steve Erceg challenges flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja at UFC 301 live from Rio de Janeiro

Riding an 11-fight winning streak, Steve Erceg challenges flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja in the UFC 301 main event on Saturday, May 4. The PPV fight card airs live from Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The No. 10-ranked contender from Australia is confident in his victory against the representative of the country-host.

Erceg (12-1) is fresh off the win by knockout in the second round against Matt Schnell in March. Stepping inside the Octagon on the rival’s territory early May at UFC 301, the 28-year-old native of Perth, Western Australia looks to pull an upset and spoil Pantoja’s (27-5) second title defense.

“My plan mainly is just to punch him in the face and not get hit,” Steve Erceg said in a recent UFC Fight Camp episode with Phil Murphy and Megan Anderson. “He’s going to again obviously come reckless. I’m going to try to stay on the outside. It’s like death by a thousand cuts, I guess. If I try to go in there and hit him really hard or I’ll give him the chance to get in there and grapple with me and get into the mid-range, where he’ll have an advantage… But if I just keep nice and technical, nice and long – it’ll frustrate him, make it hard for him.”

“But at the end of the day, also, I believe in my grappling. Before people started calling me a striker after my last fight they said I couldn’t strike and I was a grappler. So, I have full faith in my ground ability and my wrestling and I think that on the feet I can really take over.

In March, Ultimate Fighting Championship confirmed its return to Australia with UFC 305 taking place at RAC Arena in Perth, WA on August 18. Erceg said he would also like to fight in front of his hometown crowd.

“It’s awesome [that UFC is back in Perth], Erceg said. “I don’t know how they could avoid coming back after the last one. The crowd was amazing, obviously the event was amazing. It’s obvious that Perth is starved for combat sport. They love it, they are eating it up. So, I’m excited, I can’t wait to hopefully have a quick turnaround and perform in front of the Perth crowd.”

In the UFC 301 co-main event, Brazil’s former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo (31-8) makes his Octagon return against LA’s Jonathan Martinez (19-4). Also on the card, former light heavyweight title challenger Anthony Smith (37-19) of Corpus Christi, Texas takes on unbeaten Brazilian Vitor Petrino (11-0). Michel Pereira (30-11, 2 NC) of Brazil and Ukrainian Ihor Potieria (20-5) clash at middleweight. Also at middleweight, Brazilian Caio Borralho (15-1, 1 NC) fights Paul Craig (17-7-1) of Scotland.

Parviz Iskenderov
Parviz Iskenderov is a former Muay Thai fighter, sports manager and editor at FIGHTMAG.

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