Steve Erceg on UFC 301: People wouldn’t have been super excited about Muhammad Mokaev title shot

Steve Erceg believes the UFC saw him as a more exciting option than Muhammad Mokaev for a title shot.

Erceg (12-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) challenges flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja (27-5 MMA, 11-3 UFC) in the UFC 301 headliner May 4 in Rio, getting the opportunity over undefeated Mokaev (11-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC).

Erceg knocked out Matt Schnell at UFC Fight Night 238. On the same night, Mokaev beat former title challenger Alex Perez, but Erceg doesn’t believes Mokaev left the best impression with his performance, despite having more octagon experience than him.

“Two of the clear guys, (Brandon) Moreno and (Brandon) Royval, just fought for the title and lost,” Erceg told Middle Easy. “(Amir) Albazi and a few other people are injured. There’s others that have missed weight or haven’t fought in a while, and so it really was between me and Mokaev.

“Mokaev, he’s very young, and I don’t think people would have been super excited about seeing him fight for the title after his last performance. So, I think they were just trying to keep it interesting.”

Erceg agrees with Pantoja saying he’s lucky to get the title shot but thinks he’s made the most out of his UFC opportunities so far.

“I have been in the UFC not for very long, but my first fight was against a top-10 guy (Dvorak), then I fought in New York against (Alessandro) Costa, and then I finally got the Matt Schnell fight who again, top-10 ranked, beat him emphatically,” Erceg said. “So, I just think they liked the storyline there and obviously I’m willing to take on anybody and find out who the toughest guy is.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 301.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie