A man who used to be a driver for Uber has become an UFC champion in the space of just two years.
Alexandre Pantoja has opened up about how tough life was at the start of his sporting career in mixed martial arts, revealing that he was still having to drive for Uber Eats to make ends meet despite having competed in 13 UFC fights.
The 33-year-old Brazilian, whose MMA nickname is “The Cannibal” recently defeated Brendan Moreno in a UFC flyweight title fight.
The fight went to a split decision, handing Pantoja the win against his Mexican rival and earning him the flyweight title.
But, despite his success, the journey to get there wasn’t easy as Pantoja explained that he struggled to make ends meet for his family in the beginning.
In an interview with The MMA Hour, he said: “After the pandemic and after my fight with Manel [Kape], I give some money, in the pandemic, my family [went] back to Brazil because I don't can take care of [them] anymore in the U.S. and I come back to the U.S. alone.”
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... This is about my kids, my two boys.”
To keep his family afloat, Pantoja also competed in jiu-jitsu tournaments for money, but it wasn’t until he made $50,000 via a “Performance of the Night” bonus that UFC began to change his life.
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