During a trip to Brazil after securing the championship, Pantoja participated in a Trocação Franca podcast episode on MMA Hook to discuss the major narratives surrounding UFC 291, a pay-per-view event featuring a rematch for the BMF title between his colleague, Dustin Poirier, and Justin Gaethje.
Pantoja believes that Poirier vs. Gaethje 2 is an ideal follow-up in the BMF title saga.
“Justin Gaethje is an exceptionally tough fighter,” Pantoja stated. “His resilience in the face of Rafael Fiziev’s attacks truly impressed me. Gaethje not only withstood the hits but also counterattacked. If there’s someone deserving of fighting for this title, it’s Gaethje. And Dustin Poirier, he’s a real gem. He’s a seasoned UFC fighter, joined the UFC as a teenager, and has matured into a father.”
Both Poirier and Gaethje have a wrestling pedigree, but Pantoja anticipates they won’t utilize takedowns at UFC 291, stating, “they enjoy a good brawl.”
While discussing his training experience with Poirier, Pantoja said, “Our jiu-jitsu training session was smooth; he didn’t exert his strength or weight, we just sparred. His jiu-jitsu skills are solid, as demonstrated by his successful submission of [Michael] Chandler. I’m eagerly awaiting their rematch.
“I’m rooting for Dustin. This belt will return to the American Top Team. Jorge Masvidal left it with us, and I’m hoping Dustin Poirier will carry it back home.”
However, Pantoja believes that rivalry isn’t over. He speculates Adesanya might gain extra weight to challenge Pereira again in the UFC, especially if Pereira defeats Blachowicz and considering the UFC light heavyweight title is currently vacant.
“[Pereira] must be ready for a gruelling fight because [Blachowicz] will try to wear him out early,” Pantoja advised. “However, if ‘Poatan’ sets the pace from the start, I doubt this fight will last the distance. I also think a victory for ‘Poatan’ might inspire Adesanya to move up too. Such a fight could attract millions of viewers and be a thrilling encounter.”
Blachowicz shattered Adesanya’s dream of becoming a two-division champion in 2021 but subsequently lost his title to Glover Teixeira. Teixeira will be in Pereira’s corner at UFC 291, and Pantoja suspects his presence could be influential.
In a humorous tone, Pantoja said, “I think I’d pull a Khabib [Nurmagomedov], brother. Defeat one and then leap over the cage to take on the other. Jokes aside, I’m rooting for ‘Poatan.’ I hope he triumphs, and that Blachowicz feels the pressure from Glover’s presence. Glover brings a unique energy and means a great deal to us, both fighters and fans. I am convinced ‘Poatan’ is with him for good reason.”
The American Top Team will have another representative in the main card with Marcos Rogerio de Lima facing former title contender Derrick Lewis.
According to Pantoja, “Pezao” is on the path to glory and is “shaping up like a champion” in training.
“What I love about American Top Team is that I’m there every day and I get to see who’s really determined,” said Pantoja. “He’s undergone an excellent training regimen and his mental resilience is remarkable, so I’m optimistic about his chances. I believe he can take down Derrick Lewis — but he should keep his emotions in check, unlike me against [Brandon] Moreno. In jest, ‘Pezao’ is in top form. I don’t see this fight going to a decision, I predict ‘Pezao’ will achieve a knockout.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about UFC 291
Who is Alexandre Pantoja?
Alexandre Pantoja is the reigning flyweight champion in UFC. He has been significantly involved in discussing the major narratives surrounding UFC 291, despite no flyweight contenders being in the lineup.
What is the main event at UFC 291?
The main event at UFC 291 is a rematch for the BMF title between Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.
What is Pantoja’s view on the rematch between Poirier and Gaethje?
Pantoja believes that Poirier vs. Gaethje 2 is an ideal follow-up in the BMF title saga. He praises Gaethje’s resilience and commends Poirier for his long career and maturation in the UFC.
Who does Pantoja support in the Poirier vs. Gaethje match?
Pantoja is rooting for Dustin Poirier. He hopes that the BMF belt will return to the American Top Team, where it was left by Jorge Masvidal.
What are Pantoja’s thoughts on the match between Alex Pereira and Jan Blachowicz?
Pantoja advises Pereira to be ready for a grueling fight as he expects Blachowicz to try to wear him out early. However, he believes that if Pereira sets the pace from the start, the fight might not last the distance. He also speculates that a win for Pereira might motivate Israel Adesanya to move up a weight class to challenge Pereira again.
Who is representing the American Top Team at UFC 291?
Apart from Dustin Poirier, the American Top Team will have another representative in Marcos Rogerio de Lima, who will be facing Derrick Lewis in the main card. Pantoja believes that Lima is ready for greatness and is shaping up like a champion in training.