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New UFC champ Alexandre Pantoja recalls delivering Uber Eats to get by two years before big win

Alexandre Pantoja made his dream come true at UFC 290 this past weekend (July 8, 2023).

Brazil’s “Cannibal” entered his co-main event Flyweight title bout against Brandon Moreno with two overall wins (one professional win, one exhibition on The Ultimate Fighter 24) against the now-former champion. Once again entertaining mixed martial arts (MMA) fans around the globe, Pantoja and Moreno put on a “Fight of the Year” contender and were awarded “Fight of the Night” honors.

Pantoja, 33, won the war via a split decision over Moreno, bumping his record to 26-5 and changing his life going forward. Two years ago, the champion remembers doing all he could to provide for his family despite his spot as a perennial top 10 Flyweight.

“After the pandemic and after my fight with Manel [Kape], I gave some money — in the pandemic, my family [went] back to Brazil because I can’t take care of [them] anymore in the U.S. so I came back to the U.S. alone,” Pantoja told The MMA Hour. “It’s still like eight months without my family and that’s very hard for me. Sometimes I talk with my wife, I don’t know if I know how I can be a dad again. Eight months alone without my kids, that’s very hard for me. That’s about sacrifice for me.

“I won the fight with Manel [Kape], put all the money in a down payment for that house, and bring my family back, this is more important to myself,” he continued. “When my family was back, the money was short and my wife started to clean houses and I started to drive Uber. I’d do this again if I need. It’s not just about myself, this is about my family. This is about my kids, my two boys.”

Pantoja’s unanimous decision win against Kape kicked off his current four-fight winning streak after tasting defeat to Askar Askarov in July 2019. Aside from delivering Uber Eats, Pantoja noted how he also competed in some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) tournaments between fights.

One week before his fight after Kape against Brandon Royval, Pantoja was still doing Uber Eats work. Ultimately, he submitted Royval with a second round rear-naked choke, earning a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus, and hasn’t looked back since.

For complete UFC 290: “Volkanovski vs. Rodriguez” results and play-by-play, click HERE.

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