Alexandre Pantoja had to drive for Uber Eats on a massive UFC fight week

While Alexandre Pantoja would’ve loved to have spent fight week for his first clash with Brandon Royval focusing on the task at hand, in reality, he was out delivering food for Uber Eats.

Blessed with remarkable jiu-jitsu skills and an unrelenting will to win, the Brazilian star has solidified his place as a combat sports icon. However, his road to UFC gold was anything but easy, with the flyweight having to overcome tough financial times en route to claiming his spot as the greatest fighter on the planet.

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Alexander Pantoja was delivering for Uber on fight week for his first clash with Brandon Royval

Determined to give his family the life they deserve, Pantoja flew his wife and kids to the U.S., only for the COVID-19 pandemic to burst a massive hole in his plans. Subsequently, the athlete desperately struggled to make enough money to support those he loved the most, taking on a job as an Uber Eats delivery driver – a role which he continued throughout the build-up to one of the biggest fights of his career.


In an exclusive interview with Sporf, the Stake ambassador revealed: “When Covid came I was renting a house with my family in the U.S. I didn’t have any fights, UFC closed the gates. Then, an opportunity came up to go to Abu Dhabi to fight Askar Askarov, and I lost. I had to send my wife and kids back to Brazil because I couldn’t pay the rent.”

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He continued: “I moved back to the U.S. alone, and I fought Manel Kape, and I won. After the victory, it had been eight months without my family I made a down payment on my house. I got my green card and brought my family back. I spent a lot of money and I had a fight scheduled against Brandon Royval and I had no cash left.

“So, during this camp, I started to make Uber deliveries. That’s so crazy. Then, I hurt my ACL, but I still fought Royval after a long week of doing deliveries for Uber. I prayed to God to give me the strength to fight so I could get the purse to pay my bills. I won the fight and got a bonus. Then, I seriously injured my knee, and the UFC contacted me to say, ‘Do you want to fight Brandon Moreno’? I said, ‘No, I need six months to recover’. That’s the history behind my story. People can see my gold, but don’t see my bad times. My wife and kids help me. That makes me humble; it’s something my opponents don’t have. You can train wrestling, jiu-jitsu, boxing, but you can’t train for hard times in your life.”

Pantoja’s miraculous story, which eventually led to him beating Moreno for the title, is one of hard work and determination from a man willing to do everything in his power to give his kids a better life. And he owes a tremendous amount of success to his relationship with God.

Alexandre Pantoja talks about his journey with God

Throughout all the difficult times in his life, the formidable sportsman has had God by his side. No matter the ordeals he’s been through, the 125-pound champion has never lost his faith. And his lord and saviour will be right there with him when he collides with Steve Erceg at UFC 301 in front of his adoring fans at the Farmasi Arena, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The 34-year-old explained: “Of course, I pray to God to win the fight, but it’s not in my hands. Sometimes, I lose the fights, but I’m okay with that. I learn from my mistakes. Everything has a reason. If Erceg wins the fight, good for him, it’s his moment. God has already given me so much. Right now, all my energy is going towards winning the fight on May 4.

“I understand the moments God gives me. It’s good for me in my head. I never fight with God. I don’t think, ‘Why doesn’t he give me the victory?’ It’s not in my hands. All I can do is prepare and go into the arena to kill or die.”

Featured Image Credit: Getty