The battle between top-six flyweights was non-stop action from the start. However, for much of the first round, Pantoja showcased the grappling gifts that earned him eight submission wins in his career. He was able to keep “Raw Dawg” grounded, and stuck to his back, but Royval never rested on his laurels and constantly worked to escape. Eventually, he was able to separate and take advantage when back on the feet before the round ended.
Alexandre Pantoja submits Royval after back-and-forth fight at UFC Vegas 34
That continued in the second and it seemed like the momentum was behind the American until his Brazilian counterpart got the fight to the ground once again. Yet, where he failed in the first round, Pantoja made good on in the second and was able to synch up a rear-naked-choke and make his opponent tap for the first time in his career.
The victory is a second straight for the third-ranked Pantoja, following a loss to second-ranked Askar Askarov in July 2020. The win also puts him right into the title conversation, since he is the only man in the sport to own two wins over current champion Brandon Moreno.
Royval’s setback is a second straight for him, and the first time he has lost back-to-back bouts in his 18 fight career.