Las Vegas, NV — UFC flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja, fresh off the first successful title defense of his 125lb reign, was quick to extol the virtues of his weight class following UFC 296 on Saturday.
Pantoja (27-5) earned a decision victory over Brandon Royval in a rematch of the pair’s 2021 meeting, and met little resistance until the fifth and final round.
Despite cruising to victory (for the most part), Pantoja feels Royval improved between fights.
“He improved a lot. He evolved so much, and he learned with his last fight with me. He lost to me, and he grew up so much, he grew to another level,” the champ explained, speaking with media outlets including Cageside Press backstage at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “And I’m very happy for him. And I’m going to make sure the next time I fight with him, I need to train a lot, [do] a lot of work in the gym, because he’s become much better.
“He deserves all my respect. This division deserves my all my respect. All good fighters. All the fighters at flyweight try to make a bonus of the night, Fight of the Night performance. I’m very happy to represent this division.”
As champ, Alexandre Pantoja won’t have to make any callouts. Challengers will come to him, and there’s no doubt the UFC will line them up. Given his choice, however, Pantoja just wants to “call out everybody,” he stated.
“I love this division, I love to watch these guys fight. Amir [Albazi], [Brandon] Moreno, [those are] the more close guys, I think so. Manel Kape, I love to watch his fights too. Kai Kara-France, spectacular performance. All the guys. Matheus Nicolau is a very true guy too.”
Albazi and Moreno are likely in the running for the next title shot, as is Manel Kape, who has a loss to Pantoja but has won four straight. Regardless, those are the sort of fights Pantoja is looking for as champ.
“I’d love to opportunity to fight like that. In my room, I can see the T-Mobile Arena, and it’s the same color as the Colosseum. I love that,” he exclaimed. “Last time I fought with Moreno, I watched hockey and this time I watched Gladiator. I was so excited to come to this arena and fight like a gladiator. Do or die all the time. I’m so happy.”
Watch the full UFC 296 post-fight press conference with Alexandre Pantoja above.