Alexandre Pantoja will be the backup fighter for when Deiveson Figueiredo meets Joseph Benavidez in a rematch for the vacant flyweight belt on Fight Island.
Just in case something happens to either Figueiredo or to Benavidez, the UFC has now tabbed a backup fighter just in case a disaster scenario happens. That person will be Pantoja, the No. 4 ranked flyweight on the UFC roster. According to AG Fight, Pantoja will serve as the backup for the main event between Figueiredo and Benavidez. Pantoja is already scheduled to compete on the same Fight Island card against Askar Askarov, but he will fill in for the vacant title fight in case either fighter has to withdraw from the bout.
Figueiredo meets Benavidez in the main event of the UFC Fight Island card on July 18 in Abu Dhabi. Figueiredo and Benavidez met earlier this year in the main event of UFC Norfolk, where the Brazilian knocked the American out in their vacant title fight.
However, since Figueiredo missed weight for the fight he was not eligible to win the belt. Furthermore, a head-butt seemingly led to the finish, and the UFC decided that a rematch was the best course of action for the two fighters considering the circumstances. Since no one claimed the belt during their fight back in February, the UFC flyweight division has officially been without a champ since former belt holder Henry Cejudo vacated the title earlier this year.
Some fans were surprised that Figueiredo would even get another chance to win the belt considering he missed weight so badly, coming in at 127.5lbs for the first Benavidez fight. But in a division that lacks contenders, the UFC matchmakers felt like they had to run the fight back, though they are certainly crossing their fingers that he makes weight this time. Just in case that does happen, Pantoja will be ready to step up and fight for the belt.
Pantoja (22-4) is 6-2 overall in the UFC with wins over Brandon Moreno, Ulka Sasaki, Neil Seery, Eric Shelton, Wilson Reis, and in his last fight, Matt Schnell, a stoppage win that won him a “Performance of the Night” bonus. Pantoja’s lone two losses in the Octagon came against Dustin Ortiz and to Figueiredo in a 2019 “Fight of the Year” candidate at UFC 241 last summer. He was a cast member of TUF 24, where he defeated Moreno and Kai Kara-France in the first two rounds before losing to Hiromasa Ogikubo in the semifinals.
Do you like the idea of having Alexandre Pantoja as the backup for the Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Joseph Benavidez rematch?