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The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

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UFC 301 (Event Review)

Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Zuffa LLC
In UFC 301, Jose Aldo sahres after beating Jonathan Martinez in the bantamweight bout.

Rio de Janeiro played host to UFC 301 as the Brazilians mostly stood out for their home territory. The home crowd enjoyed an evening of mixed martial arts (MMA), with the main event fights featuring a Brazilian fighter. The Flyweight title bout showcased Champion Alexandre Pantoja and Australian standout Steve Erceg. The other big event for the night featured the King of Rio Jose Aldo and his return to the octagon after retiring 13 months prior.  Aldo climbed back into the octagon to take on Jonathon Martinez, who held a record of 19-3 before this fight.    


Main event: Alexandre Pantoja defends his flyweight title against #10 ranked Steve Erceg via unanimous decision.   

Although this main event was not as eye-catching as UFC 300 was, it put on a better show than most anticipated. The main event delivered a thrilling brawl and left the MMA fan base with split opinions on who was the better fighter that night. Despite only fighting for the UFC for just under a year now, Erceg proved why he’s ranked #10 in the world. He belongs in the upper echelon of the flyweight division and shouldn’t be too far from another title shot.   

Pantoja opened strong with his ability to mix up the striking and grappling, keeping top control on Erceg while landing shots on the feet. However, the second round would see a shift. Erceg showed impressive distance control while he landed shots from the outside. 

Round three saw Erceg land the biggest shots of the fight as he cut Pantoja with a right elbow and followed with his left hook, the same one that earned him this title shot when he knocked out #11 ranked Matt Schnell.

While Erceg found a lot of success in his game plan, he failed in one category, shooting for too many takedowns. Anyone who’s watched Pantoja knows he’s an elite grappler with phenomenal top control. Erceg got carried away and tried to implement offensive wrestling and grappling into the fight and it ended up costing him. 

Most fans and two of the judges saw the battle tied 2-2 heading into the fifth round, Erceg was finding success on the feet until he shot for a takedown and was held on his back for the rest of the round, sealing the victory for Pantoja.   


Co-Main event: Jose Aldo defeats Jonathan Martinez via unanimous decision. (Bantamweight bout) 

While there was gold on the line in UFC 301’s main event, there was no moment bigger than the return of the King of Rio, Jose Aldo. The former two-time featherweight champion made his return since his last bout in 2022. While in retirement, he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame for his outstanding career. Aldo came back to the octagon against the #13 ranked bantamweight, Jonathan Martinez.   

Most saw Martinez as the betting favorite and he had momentum after winning his last six fights heading into Brazil. Aldo looked like the better fighter from the jump as he showed he still had speed in his hands and frustrated Martinez as he couldn’t find Aldo’s chin or find the mark with his deadly leg kicks. Aldo came prepared as he checked most of the kicks thrown his way. Martinez even tried to wrestle, which most certainly wasn’t part of his game plan going in. Aldo has a remarkable 92% takedown defense rating in his career, leaving Martinez in trouble for most of the battle.  

Aldo came close to finishing Martinez multiple times but ended up finishing the fight in top control as he coasted through the third round, claiming victory in his home country.    


Other notable results from UFC 301

Anthony Smith found his way back into the win column with a first-round submission (Gillotine Choke) against undefeated prospect Vitor Petrino (Light Heavyweight bout). 

Michel Pereira blitzed and backflipped through Ihor Potieria with a first-round submission (Standing Guillotine Choke) as he now will look to face ranked competition at 185 (Middleweight Bout). 

Caio Borralho knocked out UFC veteran and #13 ranked middleweight Paul Craig with a straight left hand and looked to fight for contention in the division next (Middleweight Bout).  

The next pay-per-view for the UFC will come Saturday, June 1 in Newark. New Jersey as pound-for-pound #1 Islam Mahachev defends his lightweight title against eventual UFC Hall of Famer and #1 ranked contender Dustin Poirier.  


Preston Palm is a fourth-year communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. 

Ray Thomas-Lapham
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About the Contributor
Preston Palm, Senior Writer
Preston is a fourth-year communication major from Boone, North Carolina.   Experience with The Trend: Senior Writer: Aug. 2023 - present Contributing Writer: Aug. 2022 - July 2023