Alexandre Pantoja to Make Second Title Defense Against Steve Erceg at UFC 301

Alexandre Pantoja is going on the defensive again…

The 33-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and UFC flyweight champion will make his second title defense against Steve Erceg at UFC 301 on May 4 in Rio de Janeiro.

Alexandre PantojaUFC did not specify whether the 125-pound bout will headline the pay-per-view event.

UFC 301 will take place inside Farmasi Arena in the promotion’s first trip to Rio de Janeiro since January 2023.

Pantoja (27-5) was expected to appear on the card from the moment it was announced. He was born in Rio de Janeiro but has not fought in Brazil in his 14-fight UFC career. He trains out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. ranks Pantoja the No. 7 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

Erceg (12-1) has seemingly emerged out of nowhere to claim the No. 1 contender spot. Fighting out of Perth, Australia, Erceg signed with UFC midway through last year. He is 3-0 in UFC, with two wins by decision and one finish — a TKO against Matt Schnell earlier this month at a UFC Fight Night event in Las Vegas.

Erceg, 28, has eight career finishes in 12 wins, including six by submission.

Verdejo to Face Daniel Evangelista in 10-Round Bout

Felix Verdejo is ready to rumble on his home turf…

The 22-year-old rising Puerto Rican lightweight boxing star and 2014 prospect of the year will face Daniel Evangelista on April 16 at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, according promoter Top Rank.

Felix Verdejo

The scheduled 10-round bout will headline a “Solo Boxeo Tecate” card on Spanish-language network UniMas.

“The name of my opponent makes no difference,” Verdejo said. “I want to fight the best, but I don’t choose my opponents. I leave that to [manager and trainer] Ricky [Marquez] and Top Rank. I always prepare well for any opponent, and this time won’t be the exception. I will be in my best condition to once again bring happiness to my people.”

If he comes through the bout against Evangelista unscathed, Verdejo (20-0, 14 KOs), 22, is due to fight again on June 11, the eve of the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York. That bout, an HBO-televised co-feature at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, is expected to be against a much better opponent than Evangelista.

The leading candidate for that fight is Jose Felix Jr. (33-1-1, 25 KOs), 23, of Mexico, a fringe contender, according to Top Rank chairman Bob Arum.

Evangelista (18-6-2, 14 KOs), 25, of Mexico, is 1-3-1 in his past four fights but has experience against opponents such as former junior lightweight world titleholder Argenis Mendez and unbeaten prospect Casey Ramos.

“I don’t think it would be smart to think that a fighter with some losses on his record doesn’t have the qualities to be a worthy opponent,” Marquez said of Evangelista. “I respect Evangelista for his bravery of coming to our island to try to ruin our plans. I really think he is an opponent that will come to apply pressure, throw a lot of punches and will make Felix work to dominate him.”

Gonzalez Among the Frontrunners to Join ABC’s “The View”

It looks like October Gonzalez may be sharing her view(s) with the world…

Gonzalez, the wife of retiring football star Tony Gonzalez is reportedly one of the frontrunners to join Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell on ABC’s The View when the daytime talk show returns in September.

Tony & October Gonzalez

Gonzalez, who famously posed naked with her husband for PETA to discourage fur wearing, was among the prospects that ABC chemistry-tested Thursday on the set of The Chew before a test audience.

If selected to serve on the panel, the self-described “Mommy, Wife, Sister, blogger and love of life” would become the show’s first Latina to co-host the daytime talker.

“It’s all speculation at this point — we don’t have any announcement; no decisions have been made,” a rep for The View told

Gonzalez and the other semi-finalists have done practice rounds with Goldberg and O’Donnell for the express purpose of chem-testing them to reach some conclusions as to how to best cast a new panel that includes the two hosts who are set to return — O’Donnell after a several-season break.

Other contenders include MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, CNN Crossfire’s S.E. Cupp, CNN contributing legal analyst Sunny Hostin, CNN political contributor Ana Navarro, Bloomberg TV managing editor Stephanie Ruhle; ESPN anchor Sage Steele, columnist Jemele Hill, and Good Day LA co-host Lauren Sanchez.

Show producers are reportedly searching for their first Latina as well as a more conservative voice to join the panel – a seat once filled by Fox and Friends co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

Renteria Reportedly Set to Become New Chicago Cubs Manager

Rick Renteria is readying for Cub duty…

The 51-year-old Mexican American baseball coach, currently serving as the bench coach for the San Diego Padres, will soon be serving as the new manager for the Chicago Cubs, according to sources.

Rick Renteria

Renteria has been the bench coach for the Padres since 2011 after becoming a major league coach in 2008. He played infield for parts of five major league seasons after being drafted 20th overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1980.

Renteria, who retired as a player in 1996 while with the Mexico City Reds, beat out A.J. Hinch, Manny ActaDave Martinez and Eric Wedge for the job. A fifth candidate, Brad Ausmus, was hired by the Detroit Tigers earlier in the week.

Renteria is known as a hands-on teacher and a strong communicator. His ability to speak Spanish is believed to be a plus for the Cubs. Sources familiar with the process say the team was intent on hiring a Latin-American manager and/or coaches, something lacking on the previous coaching staff.

Chicago has several key players of Latin-American descent, including shortstop Starlin Castro, who regressed under former manager Dale Sveum.

“In order for us to win with this group — and win consistently — we must have the best possible environment for young players to learn, develop and thrive at the major league level,” said team representatives after Sveum was fired.