Alexandre Pantoja Aspires to Fight Flyweight Legend Demetrious Johnson

UFC flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja, who has successfully defended his title twice, dreams of fighting Demetrious Johnson, the former UFC champion and current ONE Championship titleholder, despite Johnson’s criticism of Pantoja’s fighting style and the likelihood that the fight will not happen due to Johnson’s contract with ONE Championship.

Alexandre Pantoja has made history. He’s the first UFC flyweight champ since Demetrious Johnson to defend his belt twice. And he did it at UFC 301, beating Steve Erceg. All within 10 months of his title reign.

Now, Pantoja’s got a new dream. He wants to be the guy to welcome Johnson back to UFC.

“He’s the GOAT. How can I not say that?” Pantoja shared on The MMA Hour. He’s got two title defenses under his belt now. So, he feels he can talk about a fight with Johnson. He’s got a lot of respect for the guy.

Pantoja doesn’t like to dream. He prefers to live. But if there’s one dream he has, it’s to fight Demetrious Johnson. If Johnson doesn’t want to fight, Pantoja’s open to training with him. Or maybe have a hard sparring session. He’s got a lot of respect for the guy.

Pantoja, at 34, has won six straight UFC fights. He’s had three championship victories. This has put him in elite company within the division’s history. He won the belt by beating Brandon Moreno. Then defended it against Brandon Royval and Erceg. He’s also got wins over ranked foes like Manel Kape, Alex Perez, and Matt Schnell.

Johnson, 37, is the current ONE Championship flyweight titleholder. He’s considered the greatest 125-pound fighter ever. From 2012-17, “Mighty Mouse” defended his UFC title 11 times. He broke the record previously held by UFC Hall of Famer Anderson Silva. Johnson left UFC in 2018 after a controversial loss to Henry Cejudo. But he still competes for ONE Championship. He’s had back-to-back wins over Pantoja’s teammate at American Top Team, Adriano Moraes, in 2022 and 2023.

Johnson’s close to retirement and still under contract with ONE Championship. So, a fight with Pantoja might not happen. But Pantoja’s confident in his chances.

“Demetrious Johnson, I think he can’t do it, what he did before, you know?” Pantoja said. He feels the new names in the division and the changing MMA scene might be too much for Johnson. He questions if Johnson can do the same thing.

Pantoja compares it to Anderson Silva fighting Vitor Belfort again. Or Conor McGregor with Jose Aldo. He doesn’t think they can repeat their results. He feels the same about Johnson. But he’d love to fight him. He doesn’t know about contracts, but he’d want it.

Johnson was somewhat critical of Pantoja after UFC 301. He didn’t think Pantoja was a “better fighter” than Erceg. He felt that if you took Pantoja away from his grappling, you could take advantage of him.

Pantoja and Johnson have some history. Pantoja entered UFC on The Ultimate Fighter 24. The season was designed to find a challenger for Johnson’s title. Pantoja was the No. 1 seed but was upset in the semifinals by Hiromasa Ogikubo.

Whether Pantoja’s dream fight happens or not, life’s good for him. He’s the current UFC flyweight champ. He’s had his third fight in the past 10 months. Now, he’s looking forward to a well-deserved break while the rest of the division sorts itself out.

“I have a very exciting division right now,” Pantoja said. He thinks Erceg’s a big name now. And there’s Muhammad Mokaev, Amir Albazi, Moreno, Royval, Manel Kape. Alex Perez just knocked out Matheus Nicolau. He feels the flyweights are having a great moment.

“It’s time for me to watch everyone in the division. Everybody’s been watching the champion defend his belt twice in less than a year. Now’s my time to watch everyone fight. Let’s put, I don’t know, Royval and Erceg together, Amir Albazi to Mokaev. You have very good matchups to watch. And I deserve that time.”


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