Alexandre Pantoja believes a flyweight title fight against Muhammad Mokaev at UFC 301 ‘makes total sense’

Alexandre Pantoja and Muhammad Mokaev

Reigning flyweight world champion Alexandre Pantoja doesn’t particularly care who he fights as long as he has the opportunity to defend his title at UFC 301 when the promotion returns to Rio de Janeiro.

With wins over Manel Kape, Brandon Royval, and Brandon Moreno over the last few years, it appears to be slim pickings at the top of the 125-pound division. However, this Saturday’s return to The APEX in Las Vegas could produce a viable title challenge for Pantoja.

Undefeated division standout Muhammad Mokaev will face another fallen foe from Pantoja’s past, Alex Silva. If ‘The Punisher’ can put together a dominant performance, it may be enough to move him up the ladder and into his first UFC title opportunity.

“There’s enough time, even though [Mokaev] cuts a lot of weight,” Pantoja said on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast. “I know that because he trained here at American Top Team before and he’s really big for the division. I think it makes total sense if he wins. Moreno had the ball on his court [and lost], and now Mokaev has it. Let’s see what happens.”

The biggest obstacle, as referenced by Pantoja, would be the relatively short turnaround. UFC 301 is scheduled to take place on May 4, 2024, giving Mokaev eight weeks to recover, train, and cut weight. Doable, yes, but it would certainly put him in an unfavorable position for such a big moment.

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Thus far, Muhammad Mokaev is 10-0 in his pro MMA career with his last five victories coming under the UFC banner. He has stayed fairly active, earning back-to-back third-round submission victories over Jafel Filho and Tim Elliott in 2023.

“He’s a very talented kid,” Pantoja said of Mokaev. “He’s very talented and likes to learn, but he follows a different line of thought that I do. He was raised in London, so he’s not a legitimate Russian, but he has that culture behind him.”