Kicking off the UFC Vegas 34 main card on Saturday was a flyweight pairing that promised fireworks.
Brandon Royval was one of the feelgood stories of 2020, making his UFC debut and picking up two impressive submission wins before his progress was halted by future champ Brandon Moreno.
Alexandre Pantoja, meanwhile, was still looking to break through into the title picture after flirting with it for years. And he happened to have a win over Moreno.
Pantoja vs. Royval immediately went to the ground, with Pantoja controlling from the back. At least momentarily. Royval moved like water, slipping in a back elbow for good measure. Pantoja stayed on his opponent through a couple of flips and rolls, but Royval still managed to work for a heel hook, followed by a knee-bar.
The submission wasn’t there in the end, but Royval’s constant attacks created the space he needed to escape. They’d end up back on the feet with about a minute left, where a Pantoja punch seemed to catch Royval in the eye. Royval was clearly bothered, but had to fight on; Pantjoa either found his range, but Royval was bothered enough that Alexandre was able to connect with several more punches before the buzzer sounded.
More ground action followed in the second, and this time, Royval was in real trouble. With Pantoja on his back, he found himself trapped in a rear-naked choke. The choke was deep, and there was no question Pantoja had it. The tap came in short order, giving Pantoja his second straight win.
— UFC (@ufc) August 22, 2021
Official Result: Alexandre Pantoja def. Brandon Royval by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2, 1:46