Demetrious Johnson praises ‘Dark Horse’ Alexandre Pantoja after UFC 296 win: “Full complete skill set”

By Josh Evanoff - December 22, 2023

Demetrious Johnson believes Alexandre Pantoja could be the man to bring stability to the UFC’s flyweight division.

Alexandre Pantoja and Demetrious Johnson

‘The Cannibal’ returned to the octagon over the weekend at UFC 296. Facing off against Brandon Royval in the co-main event, Alexandre Pantoja dominated. Just two years after submitting ‘Raw Dawg’ in their first encounter, the Brazilian scored a unanimous decision victory. In the process, securing the first title defense of his flyweight reign.

The win impressed many, none more than ONE Championship flyweight titleholder, Demetrious Johnson. ‘Mighty Mouse’ is no stranger to being UFC flyweight champion, having dominated the division from 2011 to 2018. Since his trade in 2019 however, the title has largely just jumped around from fighter to fighter.

Speaking to MMAJunkie, Demetrious Johnson opined that Alexandre Pantoja could be the man to stop that. In the interview, the ONE Championship star praised the Brazilian and his well-rounded skill set. He also added that while some are just now noticing the talent of ‘The Cannibal’, he’s held him in high regard for quite a while.

However, Demetrious Johnson also added that while Alexandre Pantoja is early in his title reign, he’s been at this for a long time. Still, if there’s a man who could bring stability to the division, it would be the Brazilian.


Alexandre Pantoja, Brandon Royval, UFC 296, UFC, Results

Demetrious Johnson praises Alexandre Pantoja’s win at UFC 296

“I think he’s great – I’ve always had big praise for Alexandre Pantoja,” Demetrious Johnson stated in the interview, “I’ve always thought he’s a dark horse. He’s a very good, he’s a very good grappler and that’s his strong suit. He’s got a very good chin, and in the fight he looked great… He did a good job. It was a great fight. Pantoja is great for the flyweight division, and I can’t wait to see who he’s going to fight next.” (h/t MMAJunkie)

He continued, “I think [he could bring stability to the division], yeah. He has the full, complete [skill] set. I think that only thing I saw this weekend that Brandon could’ve taken advantage of, was that he was so focused on defending the takedown and outstriking Pantoja – I don’t think you’re going to knockout Pantoja, he’s got a chin. I think if Brandon wrestled him, like ‘OK, I’m going to take the grappling to you and put you on your back and force,’ that’s where Pantoja looked like he was depleting most of his gas tank.”

“…Also, he’s getting older, he’s been fighting for a very long time, how much longer does he want to do it? All these things play a factor in stability in being a champion. When I look back when I did it, 11 consecutive title defenses, finishes, and always trying to be ahead a step of my competition. It’s a lot of work. It’s not just the fights. You’re training, staying healthy, and your mindset. How much longer does he want to do it? It all boils down to all that stuff.”

What do you make of these comments about Alexandre Pantoja? Do you agree with Demetrious Johnson?


Alexandre Pantoja Demetrious Johnson UFC