Ranked #3 and #6 in the flyweight division clash on Saturday when Alexandre Pantoja meets Brandon Royval. Hailing from Brazil, Pantoja is coming off a big victory over former Rizin champ Manel Kape. The American, Brandon Royval, will be looking to bounce back from a loss to current champ Brandon Moreno after winning four in a row.
The two well-rounded flyweights have the potential to contest the fight anywhere, both with exciting stand-up prowess and Jiu-Jitsu black belts. When they meet expect to see the full spectrum of mixed martial arts.
Pantoja vs. Royval odds
The more experienced and higher ranked Pantoja will come into the bout as the favorite.
Pantoja vs. Royval breakdown
Pantoja, an extremely aggressive fighter, is known for always looking for the finish. His official record tells the story of a well-rounded individual with his knockout-submission-decision ratio at 8-8-7, but the decisions he has won have been based on damage and aggression accumulated while hunting down the stoppage.
Standing up, he has one of the most powerful right hands at 125 pounds, and he throws it knowing this. He has been willing in the past to begin fights at a high pace and trade in the middle but will eventually resign himself to throwing only one or two shots at a time, putting everything behind them. Often he will sprint forward, alternating crosses off the stepping back leg, or time the over-hand over his opponent’s jab.
This sometimes causes him to eat combinations coming in, but he has been so far willing to take a few shots in order to land his own because he knows he has the power to end things. He is also willing to rush in because he has no qualms with working off his back if taken down. Although six of his eight submissions have come by way of rear-naked choke, he will throw up a wide range of submissions off his back from omoplatas, armbars, and triangles which if not successful, usually create scrambles and allow him to advance position.
He is a creative grappler and difficult to prepare for, he will use his submission attempts to escape areas in unorthodox ways and keep his opponent’s on the defensive, which minimizes the amount of ground and pound he takes.
However, the most comparable ground game belongs to his opponent Brandon Royval. The American is also one of the most dynamic grapplers in the division, who never lays and waits and is always attacking whether on top or off his back. When finding himself in compromised positions, rather than taking on a defensive mindset, Royval will look to secure his own attack and use it to transition. When his back is taken, he will look to attack legs off the escape and create scrambles as well. Although having less overall MMA experience he matches Pantoja with 8 submissions on his record.
Where Royval differs the most is in his striking style. As dynamic as he is a grappler, he matches standing up – he fights from the southpaw stance favoring his left roundhouse kick which he lands at range. He also uses very long boxing and takes advantage of his 68-inch reach by touching his opponents from the outside and leaning back while shoulder rolling away. It is important to note though that Pantoja will have a 68-inch reach as well.
Royval shines in the activity department, he puts on a relentless pace. The reason he can throw high output combinations is because he blends his momentum with his strikes so well. Rather than throwing the traditional left-right and alternating impact directions, Royval will use the momentum of one strike to perfectly initiate another. For example, a recurring tool he uses is spinning techniques off of power shots, his left high kick over commits into his right spinning back fist. He will also slip into spinning elbows in the pocket.
He does not have the same one-shot power as Pantoja but he makes up for it in volume, the double-edged sword to his style is that his dynamic abilities create awkward positions on the feet and he can get caught with shots in the sequences. However, this is also what makes him so dangerous at any point, if any of his opponents get over excited and move in, they could get caught from anywhere.
Pantoja vs. Royval prediction
This fight has the potential to give fight fans the best exchange of dynamic flyweight grappling this year. It also pits the heavy handed-move forward at all times Pantoja against the ever-moving volume striker in Royval. Regardless of who wins, it should be an exciting bout with action both on the feet and on the floor.
That being said, I think that Royval will have the ability to roll with Pantoja and on the ground, it’s essentially a pick ’em’ match-up. Standing, on the other hand, will be decided by either Royval’s volume or Pantoja’s power. While Pantoja may land the shot, I don’t think it will be enough to negate Royval’s work rate. Ultimately this is one of the most difficult fights to pick but if there’s ever an underdog with a great chance it is Brandon Royval.
Prediction: Brandon Royval by decision
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.