Alex Perez (22-5 MMA, 4-1 UFC) is making his return to the Octagon at UFC on ESPN+ 24 this Saturday. He believes a Fight of the Night is in his future when he meets Jordan Espinosa (14-6 MMA, 1-1 UFC) for a flyweight bout.
“[Espinosa] is a good match-up, stylistically,” Perez told MMASucka. “We both like to be on our feet, so I’m hoping to get Fight of the Night. He comes in, pushes forward. He moves a lot, but he’s looking for the knockout.”
Return to Action
Perez last fought in March when he defeated Mark De La Rosa. He was slated to fight Sergio Pettis in September but had to withdraw when he suffered a knee injury. Fortunately, Perez didn’t need surgery. Even when he was hurt, he still went to the gym. While he wasn’t able to improve physically while he healed, he was able to do so mentally.
“I was there watching,” he said. “I was figuring out things watching positions, asking questions on why you do things. So, I was still getting better in that aspect.”
Even with the 10-month layoff, Perez is not expecting any ring rust. In fact, he said fans can expect the best version of Alex Perez to date.
“Just because I took a lot of time off, it helped me get better. Things that I needed to work on. Injury-wise, it healed up all the nagging little injuries I had. Things like that. This is the best I’ve ever felt for a camp.”
With his inactivity, Perez didn’t miss much as far as the flyweight rankings were concerned. Former champion Henry Cejudo relinquished his belt after an injury has kept him out since June, when he became a dual-weight champ by TKO’ing Marlon Moraes for the vacant bantamweight strap. The flyweight title hasn’t seen any action since Jan. 19, 2019, when Cejudo defended the belt against T.J. Dillashaw. Cejudo won the strap off Demetrious Johnson in August 2018 via split decision. “Mighty Mouse” has since emigrated to ONE Championship. The UFC flyweight title is vacant and will be decided in a bout between Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo.
Thoughts on the Flyweight Division
Despite the log-jam, Perez didn’t mind, as he knows he’s at least a few wins away from a title shot. He enters his next fight as the No. 12-ranked flyweight to Espinosa’s No. 11.
“The top of the division, I’m not worried about it,” Perez said. “I’m just worried about myself. It really wouldn’t do much for me anyways. It’s not like I could say ‘If I win this fight, then give me a title shot.’ I have to win this fight and maybe a couple more depending on who’s in front of me and who I beat. If I was up at the top of the division like Benavidez, yeah I would’ve been frustrated for sure. But I’m not in that position.”
At one point, it was looking like the UFC would scrap the 125-lb. division. Flyweights were getting cut as a result. However, with a vacant title bout being scheduled even with Cejudo’s relinquishment of the belt, it looks like the division is here to stay. Perez said he’s confident it will.
“You look at the flyweight division and you’ve got new faces and exciting fights,” he said. “There were a lot of mix-ups where a lot of guys got cut. But then they brought back the division and brought some new guys in. So I feel like we’re here to stay. We’ve been putting on Fight of the Night performances. There have been a lot of finishes, so I think this is an exciting time for the division.”
Alex Perez vs. Jordan Espinosa
Perez hopes to add to that when he fights Espinosa this Saturday. UFC on ESPN+ 24 goes down from PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. The main card, which Perez will be on, starts at 8 p.m. EST. The prelims kick off at 5 p.m. You won’t want to blink when the two flyweights take the stage.
“I’m ready for a war,” Perez said. “Submission, knockout or decision. Whatever comes, it doesn’t matter to me. I just know that I’m coming out with my hand raised at the end.”
Featured Image credit:
Embed from Getty Images