Alexandre Pantoja reminisces about his time as an Uber Eats driver, a means to pay his bills while pursuing the UFC flyweight championship. Just two years before his victorious title match against Brandon Moreno, Pantoja took on the role of a driver to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida.
Following his decision win over Manel Kape in February 2021, Pantoja faced financial struggles and sent his wife and children back to Brazil temporarily due to the shortage of money. Spending eight months alone in Florida, he worked as an Uber Eats driver leading up to his Auguust 2021 UFC clash with Brandon Royval.
For Pantoja, this was a display of sacrifice. He used the money earned from defeating Manel Kape to contribute towards a down payment for a house and prioritize bringing his family back. With financial constraints, his wife resorted to cleaning houses while he turned to driving for Uber Eats. Despite the difficulties, Pantoja expressed his willingness to endure such challenges for the sake of his family and children.
To supplement his income, Pantoja also participated in jiu-jitsu tournaments for cash. However, his life took a transformative turn when he secured an additional $50,000 as a “Performance of the Night” bonus for defeating Royval.
Nonetheless, it was not an easy path. Just a week before his fight with Royval, Pantoja battled through sickness while delivering Uber Eats in the rain. Fearing the possibility of contracting COVID-19 again, he expressed relief when his illness was unrelated, as he only had one month to cover his bills. Despite being unwell and nursing a completely torn ACL, Pantoja’s victory and bonus money provided him with a six-month reprieve. This allowed him to undergo surgery, recuperate, and take a couple of months off.
Eleven months later, Pantoja returned to the octagon and swiftly finished Alex Perez in a mere 91 seconds, solidifying his position as the top contender. He patiently awaited the outcome of the Moreno vs. Figueiredo trilogy before finally earning his well-deserved title shot.
Pantoja believes that his triumph over Moreno was a culmination of his life’s journey and the choices he made. He expressed immense happiness and gratitude for the support he received, particularly highlighting that his victory holds significance for individuals who may have doubted their own potential to reach the championship. Pantoja stressed that the belt represents not only his personal achievement but also the collective effort of those who assisted him along the way.
Acknowledging the instrumental role played by his long-time head coach, Marcos “Parrumpinha” da Matta, Pantoja credits him as deserving the title of “Coach of the Year” for 2023. While he agrees that a rematch with Moreno is warranted, despite his 3-0 advantage, Pantoja seeks a fresh challenge initially.
Expressing his desire to fight Moreno once again, Pantoja recognizes the public demand for a rematch. However, he believes that every division should experience new contenders. Pantoja suggests that two other fighters compete before he faces Moreno again, waiting to hear UFC President Dana White’s decision on the matter.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about UFC champion
Q: What challenges did Alexandre Pantoja face on his journey to the UFC title?
A: Alexandre Pantoja encountered various challenges during his journey to the UFC title. He worked as an Uber Eats driver and competed in jiu-jitsu tournaments to make ends meet. Financial struggles forced him to send his family back to Brazil temporarily. Additionally, he battled sickness and a knee injury leading up to his fights. Despite these difficulties, Pantoja persevered and emerged victorious, securing the flyweight championship.
More about UFC champion
- “Alexandre Pantoja: From Uber Eats Driver to UFC Champion” (https://www.ufc.com/news/alexandre-pantoja-uber-eats-driver-ufc-champion)
- “UFC 290: Alexandre Pantoja Beats Brandon Moreno to Win Flyweight Title” (https://www.sherdog.com/news/news/UFC-290-Alexandre-Pantoja-Beats-Brandon-Moreno-to-Win-Flyweight-Title-186870)
- “Alexandre Pantoja’s Road to the UFC Flyweight Championship” (https://www.mmamania.com/2023/7/10/22571846/alexandre-pantojas-road-ufc-flyweight-championship-mma)
- “Alexandre Pantoja: The Inspiring Journey of a UFC Champion” (https://www.sportskeeda.com/mma/alexandre-pantoja-inspiring-journey-ufc-champion)