The UFC Flyweight title is on the line on Saturday night in the co-main event of UFC 296 and we’ve got all the news in our Pantoja vs Royval prediction.
Back in July, Pantoja became just the fifth man ever to win the title at 125 lbs when he defeated Brandon Moreno.
Now he defends that title for the first time in the co-main event of one of the best UFC cards of the year, on Saturday night, hoping to end the belts run of three years without a successful title defense.
We’ve got all the information ahead of the fight and why exactly we’ll be choosing our Alexandre Pantoja vs Brandon Royval prediction.
Pantoja vs Royval Prediction
In order to win the title for the first time in his UFC career, Pantoja had to overcome Moreno, whom he’d already fought.
His first title defense is also in a rematch, this time with Royval, having beaten ‘Raw Dog’ in August 2021.
The champion goes into this one as the favorite, but not by much. We’ll explain exactly why in our Alexandre Pantoja vs Brandon Royval prediction.
Alexandre Pantoja Preview
Since making his debut in the organization back in 2017, it’s been a story mainly of success for ‘The Cannibal,’ who has won all but three of his 13 fights.
He last tasted defeat against Askar Askarov in July 2020 and is now on a four fight winning streak.
The three victories against Manel Kape, Royval and Alex Perez, the latter two earning him Performance of the Night bonuses, earned him the title shot at Moreno.
He did not blink at the chance to drape himself in UFC gold for the first time. Mixed in with already having beaten his opponent, the champion’s experience at this level may play into our Pantoja vs Royval prediction.
The 33-year-old certainly has several routes to victory this weekend, with eight MMA victories by KO, eight by decision and 10 by submission during his career to date.
Two of his most recent three wins have come from submission, defeating Perez by neck crank and this weekend’s opponent by rear-naked choke.
With an average of 1.75 takedowns per three rounds, Royval will have to be wary of Pantoja taking his back once he has him down.
The Brazilian’s ability to go the distance seems to have improved in recent fights too, and his unanimous decision win over Moreno was a huge back and forth fight, with the new champ coming out on top.
However, his defense when standing is a potential weakness that could see Pantoja be the latest Flyweight champion without successfully backing up the title win.
Brandon Royval Preview
For Royval, this fight is as much about getting revenge for his loss to Pantoja in their first fight as it is about winning the title.
The challenger picked up back-to-back losses when he lost to the Brazilian after he’d also lost to a pre-world champion Moreno months before that.
But those losses can potentially be forgotten in our Alexandre Pantoja vs Brandon Royval prediction, with the American an improved fighter.
Since suffering those two defeats, which don’t look as bad now with the fact both men on to win the flyweight title, he is undefeated in three fights.
— UFC (@ufc) December 15, 2023
The 31-year-old has shown off all sorts of skills in those wins, defeating Rogerio Bontorin by split decision, Matt Schnell by submission with a guillotine choke and KOing Matheus Nicolau with elbow and knee strikes.
Royval was the underdog going into the Nicolau fight, as he will be this weekend, but revealed he and his team noticed the Brazilian dipped his head when throwing a strike.
They pounced on that and it helped the American win the fight, if his team have noticed something about Pantoja it may help this weekend.
The southpaw’s best route to victory is likely to be through his striking as he looks for a stoppage victory.
Alexandre Pantoja vs Brandon Royval Prediction: The Title Is Defended
- Alexandre Pantoja to win by submission +120
- Alexandre Pantoja to win in rounds 1-2 +165
- Alexandre Pantoja to win between 3.00 and 3.59 in round one – +1800
The odds suggest that there isn’t too much in this one in terms of which way the result could go, but we fancy Pantoja to get it done.
Our Pantoja vs Royval prediction focuses mainly on the champion’s ability to take his opponent’s back and make him submit.
Having already done that once to the challenger we can see a similar ending, with Royval forced to tap out.
At +160, the underdog is still worth backing if you fancy the upset, with the favorite available at -192 on the Moneyline.
The odds of Pantoja securing a KO victory are fancied at +400, whereas Royval comes in at +300, which is an indicator of their striking ability.
There’s plenty of value if you do think that Royval can deny Pantoja a successful title defense on his first outing as champion.
Deiveson Figueiredo is the last man to have defended the title, in his draw with Brandon Moreno in 2020. After that the two men swapped the title, before Pantoja won it off Moreno.