Steve Erceg opens up on close title fight defeat against Alexandre Pantoja at UFC 301: ‘I blew it’

Steve Erceg reflects on close title fight loss to Alexandre Pantoja at UFC 301 I blew it

Steve Erceg believes he blew his chance to become the UFC flyweight champion on Saturday at UFC 301.

Erceg was fighting Alexandre Pantoja in the main event of the pay-per-view card in just his fourth UFC fight. It was an incredible rise for Erceg to even fight for the belt, but he came up just short against Pantoja, and he believes he blew his chance.

Pantoja Erceg UFC 301 Jason Silva

“I really thought if I could get him down I would eat up the time on the ground and make him even more tired,” Steve Erceg told FULL SEND MMA in the aftermath of UFC 301 (via MMAJunkie). “So I probably would’ve done the exact same thing. Next time I just need to be better at is. I thought it could’ve been 2-2 or 3-1 for him. I knew it was close in the third. I knew I was on the fourth. I fought to win the last round to put myself in the position that I give myself a chance. I blew it.”

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Erceg shot a late takedown in the fifth round, and Pantoja ended up scrambling to get on top, and rode out the round, which could have been the difference. With Erceg leaving Brazil without the belt, he says he’s devastated by his decision but vows to be back.

Pantoja Erceg 4

“I’m obviously devastated,” Erceg said. “Despite the short notice, or three fights in the UFC, I came to win. I thought I could do it. I thought I was finishing over the top, but he out-scrambled me. He did better, and I’ll be back.”

Alexandre Pantoja Praises Steve Erceg

After UFC 301, Alexandre Pantoja heaped praise on Steve Erceg for how tough he was.

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Pantoja edged out a unanimous decision win to defeat Steve Erceg and defend his flyweight title for the second time. After the win, the Brazilian had nothing but kind words to say to Erceg, but he believes he clearly won the fight.

“I think I clearly won the first three rounds of the fight,” Pantoja said through a translator at his UFC 301 post-fight media scrum (via MMAFighting). “The fourth round could of been his. The fifth round was mine, so I definitely think it was 4-1. The guy was very tough. It was what we said. This is a guy from Australia, very tough, that people didn’t really know, and he came in there to die. He was prepared to die and I think that’s what it’s all about when you fight for the championship.”

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Steve Erceg UFC 301 Jason Silva

With the win at UFC 301, Pantoja improved to 28-5 as a pro. As for what’s next for him, he isn’t sure but Pantoja knows he likely will face him again in the future.

“I really want to see him against a top-five guy in this division,” Pantoja said of Steve Erceg. “I want to see how he works out. I think he’s going to gain a lot of space in this division, but right now I’m not thinking about that. I don’t want to think about the gym or fighting, I want to think about the beach. … Maybe tomorrow that changes, but for now that’s it.”