UFC 301 Odds, Predictions: Alexandre Pantoja Favoured To Retain UFC Flyweight Title In Brazil

Opponents Alexandre Pantoja and Steve Erceg pose during the UFC 301 media day at the Windsor Marapendi Hotel on May 01, 2024 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro has seen its fair share of UFC championship fights over the years. The first one took place at UFC 134 in August 2011 when Anderson Silva defeated Yushin Okami at HSBC Arena to retain the UFC Middleweight Title. The most recent one occurred at UFC 283 in January 2023 when Jamahal Hill beat Glover Teixeira at Jeunesse Arena to take home the UFC Light Heavyweight Title. But the championship fight set to happen at UFC 301 between Alexandre Pantoja and Steve Erceg for the UFC Flyweight title could be the best one yet.

Pantoja, who is the current UFC Flyweight Champion, hails from Rio de Janeiro and will be fighting in Brazil for the first time in a decade. He already received a hero’s welcome when he flew from Las Vegas to Brazil after winning the UFC Flyweight Title at UFC 290 in July 2023 against Brandon Moreno. But something tells us his hometown fans will be even more juiced up than they were back then when he steps into the Octagon at Farmasi Arena to defend his belt.

Alexandre Pantoja to win fight vs. Steve Erceg


Let’s preview the five fights on the main card for UFC 301 and check out the best odds for each one to get you ready for the event.

Paul Craig vs. Caio Borralho

Best odds on Craig to win fight: +487 @ Pinnacle
Best odds on Borralho to win fight: -600 @ bet365

Before Pantoja takes centre stage as the main course at UFC 301, Caio Borralho will serve as the appetizer.

Like Pantoja, “The Natural” hails from Brazil and fights out of São Paulo. He doesn’t quite have the name recognition that Pantoja does yet, but the UFC has put him in a position to make noise against Paul Craig. Craig has lost three of his last four bouts, including a November 2023 loss to Brendan Allen via submission. It explains why Borralho is such a big favourite heading into this fight.

It’s worth noting that Craig is no slouch, as he’s currently listed right above Borralho in UFC’s Middleweight rankings. He has also notched four impressive victories over Brazilian fighters throughout his UFC career, with the crown jewel being his November 2020 victory over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 255.

But Borralho has talked about “avenging all the Brazilians he fought” by beating up on Craig at UFC 301 — and we’re inclined to believe him. Look for Borralho to get the Brazilian fans in attendance at UFC 301 all riled up long before Pantoja takes the long walk to the Octagon.

Prediction: Borralho by submission (+200 @ bet365).

Michel Pereira vs. Ihor Potieria

Best odds on Pereira to win fight: -550 @ Betway
Best odds on Potieria to win fight: +475 @ Sports Interaction

Michel Pereira was originally supposed to square off with Makhmud Muradov at UFC 301 before the latter was forced to pull out of their fight due to an infection. Ihor Potieria decided to step up and accept a fight against Pereira despite already being booked to fight Shara Magomedov in Saudi Arabia on June 22.

You have to give Potieria credit for taking this fight on such short notice when the opportunity presented itself, but he may very well come to regret it. The outlandish Pereira has strung together seven straight wins, with his last victory coming against Michal Oleksiejczuk at UFC 299. Potieria has gone just 3-3 in his last six matches with all three of his losses coming via knockout.

The good news for Potieria is that he really has nothing to lose here, as most people aren’t expecting him to put up much of a fight against Pereira. But Potieria has been impatient at times during his last few fights, and if he isn’t patient against Pereira, it could come back to bite him. He won’t be able to withstand Pereira’s punching power for very long.

Pereira is also right on the cusp of entering UFC’s Middleweight ranking, so it wouldn’t surprise us one bit to see him end this fight early. A first-round KO isn’t out of the question at all.

Prediction: Pereira by knockout (-155 @ Sports Interaction).

Anthony Smith vs. Vitor Petrino

Best odds on Smith to win fight: +450 @ Betway
Best odds on Petrino to win fight: -550 @ bet365

Despite being on the back end of his UFC career, Anthony Smith is ranked No. 10 in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight rankings, while Vitor Petrino is still trying to rise through the ranks. But that hasn’t stopped oddsmakers from making Petrino a huge favourite in their UFC 301 fight.

It isn’t difficult to see why many UFC bettors and fans alike are giving the advantage to Petrino here, either. Smith has lost three of his last four fights, with two of those losses coming by knockout. He has also looked a step slower than usual during his most recent fights and won’t be able to keep up with Petrino if he gets taken to the ground.

While Father Time might be catching up to Smith, he hasn’t lost his grittiness in the Octagon, and he should be able to maintain a slight edge over Petrino if he can stay on his feet. But Petrino has recorded 15 takedowns during his first four UFC fights, and we would expect him to record at least a couple more against Smith.

Oh, and did we mention that, like his fellow UFC fighters Borralho and Pantoja, Petrino is also from Brazil and will be fighting in front of an undeniably biased crowd? It’s just one more thing that Smith will have going against him in what could end up being the most lopsided fight of the night.

Prediction: Petrino by submission (+450 @ Betway).

Vitor Petrino to win via submission


Jonathan Martinez vs. Jose Aldo

Best odds on Martinez to win fight: -142 @ Pinnacle
Best odds on Aldo to win fight: +130 @ bet365

José Aldo isn’t just on the back end of his UFC career. His UFC career was thought to be over when he announced his retirement back in September 2022 following a loss to Merab Dvalishvili at UFC 278. But he decided to resurrect it for a fight against Jonathan Martinez at UFC 301 after spending the last two years pursuing a second career as a professional boxer.

Of all the fights on the main card at UFC 301, this one might be the most challenging to predict. Aldo actually enjoyed some success as a boxer while putting together a 1-0-1 record, and the Brazilian will definitely have the crowd on his side when he gets back into the Octagon with Martinez. But could a combination of rust and all the emotion surrounding this fight wear Aldo out before the bout even gets going?

Martinez, meanwhile, is almost an afterthought heading into this fight in spite of the fact that oddsmakers have made him the slight favourite. He has also won six straight fights, including two knockout victories, and he is seven years younger than Aldo and has a lot more tread left on his tires.

Selfishly, we want to see Aldo put forth a great showing and ride off into the distance with one final win under his belt. But it’s hard for us to pick an upset here without knowing which version of Aldo we’re going to get.

Prediction: Martinez via unanimous decision (+145 @ bet365).

Alexandre Pantoja vs. Steve Erceg

Best odds on Pantoja to win fight: -185 @ Sports Interaction
Best odds on Erceg to win fight: +162 @ bet365

Pantojo has shown he can win UFC fights in a variety of ways. “The Cannibal” has recorded eight knockouts, nine decisions, and 10 submissions while amassing an impressive 27-5 record. Most recently, he beat the next-best UFC Flyweight fighter Brandon Royval via unanimous decision at UFC 296 in December 2023.

Erceg, on the other hand, still has some question marks surrounding him. While he has won his first three UFC fights decisively and is coming off an eyebrow-raising knockout win over Matt Schnell in March, he hasn’t been tested like Pantoja has. He’ll also be in enemy territory at UFC 301, as just about the entire crowd at Farmasi Arena will be cheering for the hometown hero to annihilate him.

That could work in Erceg’s favour, especially if Pantoja shows any signs of nerves during the first and second round. But if the other Brazilian fighters on the main card at UFC 301 can set the tone for the main event and get the crowd even more hyped up than they’ll already be, Erceg could also be walking into a buzzsaw here. The crowd will erupt at the first sign of any success for Pantoja, and it could be all downhill from there for Erceg.

We see Pantoja keeping his fans on the edge of their seats for the first few rounds before beginning to wear Erceg down and eventually scoring a knockout or submission. It would be a fitting ending to what should be another fun night for the UFC in Rio de Janeiro.

Prediction: Pantoja via submission (+300 @ Sports Interaction).