Alexander Pantoja and Brandon Royal meet again. Their first duel saw Pantoya put Royval to sleep with a real naked choke. Now, two and a half years later, Royal is looking for revenge. And he can get it in the best way possible – by taking away the UFC flyweight championship belt from Pantoya.
Can he pull it away? Judging by Pantoja’s odds against Royval, the answer is no. But before you place any bets, be sure to read our UFC 296 co-main event preview to find out if you should really be backing the defending champion.
When, where and how to watch?
- place: T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada
- date: Saturday, December 16, 2023
- time: 9:00 PM ET
- How to watch: PPV
Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Ruffal
Alexandre Pantoja is favored by bookies to defend his title
Alexander Pantoja is 26-5 overall, with each of his five losses coming by decision. The last of those incidents occurred in 2020 and they have gone 4-0 since then.
During his final ascension, he won two Nigh performance bonuses, with his final fight being crowned Fight of the Night. More importantly, the fight in question brought Pantoja the UFC flyweight championship belt.
He defeated Brandon Moreno via split decision in a fight that saw each fighter land a massive amount of strikes. Pantoja scored 129 significant strikes – his highest number since joining the UFC in 2017. He also landed six landings in that fight, breaking another personal record.
Wrestling and wrestling are his forte, as evidenced by the fact that he has 10 wins via submission in his portfolio. One of those incidents happened against Roval two and a half years ago.
Brandon Ruval plans revenge
Brandon Royal is 15-6 overall, with two losses inside the distance. The first of which was a TKO loss that occurred against Brandon Moreno, who later won the tournament.
The second defeat was a submission loss to Alexandre Pantoja. This guy is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, so beating him with submission is a really big accomplishment.
Since that loss, Royval has gone on to win three fights, winning a Performance of the Night bonus for his last fight, which saw him defeat Matthäus Nicolaou by knee and elbows. A KO win is actually what I recommend for the UFC 296 title fight against Dana White & Co.
Prediction Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Ruffal
Alexandre Pantoja is the -170 favorite for a reason. He is a better fighter than Royval, which he has already proven in 2021. He beat him once and we are sure he will do it again.
But this time, he may not stop. Instead, we think it’s very likely that this fight will go all the way with the reigning champion winning the judges’ votes in the end.
He chooses: Alexander Pantoja