Askar Askarov kicked off the UFC Fight Island 2 main card with a decision victory over Alexandre Pantoja at flyweight.
Kicking off the main card at UFC Fight Island 2 was a bout potentially set as a title eliminator. Heading into the Abu Dhabi-based event on Saturday, Alexandre Pantoja was given the nod as a replacement fighter for the main event.
Presumably, a win over Askar Askarov would secure his status as the next in line for the winner of Benavidez vs. Figueiredo 2. Should Askarov walk away with his hand raised, he’d seemingly have a claim as well, with what would be a 2-0-1 record in the octagon.
A key fight for the beleaguered 125lb division, in other words. Pantoja took the center of the Octagon to start things off. He pulled guard and a scramble ensued, resulting in Askarov lifting Pantoja up in the air to avoid a triangle attempt. Pantoja was able to scramble back up to his feet, but Askarov remained pressed up against him on the cage, and secured the takedown.
Again Pantoja got to his feet, but with Askarov clinching his back. Askarov remained glued to Pantoja, looking to keep the fight grappling. But Pantoja was able to take Askarov’s back and lock in the body triangle. Pantoja worked for the rear-naked choke, but Askarov hand-fought successfully until the round ended.
The second round began with Pantoja taking the center of the Octagon again. Askarov was able to quickly clinch up, but Pantoja separated with strikes. Pantoja had a kick caught, and Askarov attempted to get a takedown off it, but Pantoja was able to run and circle out of the attempt. Pantoja got off some nice body shots before being taken down by Askarov again. Immediately Pantoja worked for a triangle but Askarov escaped it easily. After a roll, Pantoja got to his feet, but Askarov remained clinched onto him, pressing him against the cage. Pantoja separated from the clinch with a knee to the body. Askarov with a takedown but it resulted in a beautiful scramble from Pantoja, who took the back as the round came to an end.
In the final round, both men started off by exchanging hard strikes. A big shot from Pantoja dropped Askarov, but he pushed Pantoja off with his eggs and exploded back to his feet. Pantoja went in for a takedown of his own but it was over quickly. A very tentative round from both men, who weren’t throwing much. Pantoja landed some shots backing away, followed by a nice kick to the body. The uneventful round ended with a nice right hand landing for Askarov.
Official Result: Askar Askarov def. Alexandre Pantoja via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)