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May 3, 2024 4:25 pm

UFC 301 Preview: Alexandre Pantoja favored in main event

Alexandre Pantoja

UFC 301 will feature a title fight between 125-pound champion Alexandre Pantoja and flyweight contender Steve Erceg at Farmasi Arena in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.

Pantoja (27-5 MMA, 11-3 UFC) earned the title with a victory over Brandon Moreno, and also has wins over the likes of Manel Kape, Alex Perez, and Brandon Royval. Erceg (12-1, 3-0) joined UFC last year and has since recorded wins over Matt Schnell and David Dvorak, two ranked opponents who also have losing records inside the octagon.

Pantoja understandably opened as the heavy -250 favorite at DraftKings. However, Erceg’s opening odds at +190 has attracted 71 percent of the money wagered on the fight, driving his odds down to +150 and shifting Pantoja’s to -185.

There are four other fights on the main card:
–Jonathan Martinez (19-4, 10-3) vs. Jose Aldo (31-8, 13-7): The 37-year-old Aldo will have the Brazilian crowd behind him, but he also hasn’t fought since a decision loss to Merab Dvalishvili nearly two years ago and is facing a tough opponent. Martinez, 30, enters on a six-fight win streak, including victories over Said Nurmagomedov, Cub Swanson and Adrian Yanez. Martinez is the -145 favorite, drawing 72 percent of the money to beat Aldo (+120).

–Anthony Smith (37-19, 12-9) vs. Vitor Petrino (11-0, 4-0): Smith is a former middleweight who has dropped three of his past four fights. Meanwhile, Petrino has advanced from the Contender Series and has won his first four UFC fights, the latest being a victory over Tyson Pedro at UFC Vegas 87 last month. Petrino is younger by 11 years and while he gives up two inches to the former title challenger, Petrino does own a one-inch reach advantage. He’s one of the biggest favorites on the main card, having been backed at 61 percent of the money at -550 while Smith is the big +400 underdog.

–Michael Pereira (30-11, 8-2) vs. Ihor Potieria (21-5, 2-3): The 30-year-old Pereira has produced consecutive finishes over Andre Petrovski and Michal Oleksiejczuk. He’s the heavy favorite over Potieria, who is a short-notice fill in for the injured Makhmud Muradov. Potieria enjoys a size advantage and is coming off a win over Robert Bryczek following consecutive losses. However, Pereira enters UFC 301 motivated to continue rising up the middleweight rankings. He’s the heaviest favorite of the night at -700, with upset-wishful bettors backing Potieria with 82 percent of the money at +475.

–Paul Craig (17-7-1, 9-7-1) vs. Caio Borralho (15-1, 5-0): Craig, 36, has been competing for UFC since 2016 and is coming off a submission loss to Brendan Allen at UFC Vegas 82. He faces an uphill battle against Borralho, another Brazilian who has come through the Contender Series. Borralho opened at -350 and those odds have skyrocketed to -650 with 90 percent of the money backing him.

–Field Level Media

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