Alex Perez is one of the top flyweight contenders in the UFC. Coming out of UFC Raleigh with a first round triangle against Jordan Espinosa, it is all up hill for Perez. He now his his eyes set on the top of the division. And he is hungry.
I get paid to stay in shape and fight. I don’t get paid to sit on the couch.Alex Perez
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Perez was a wrestler in high school. His wrestling days are what got him involved with the sport. Now in the best position he’s been in throughout his entire career, Alex Perez looks back.
“I was helping some of my friends get ready for MMA fights. I was still in high school and I was wrestling. They were like, ‘Hey, can you help me with wrestling,” and I was like sure. I wanted to finish school, try and go to college because fighting was going to always be there. Then I turned 18 and they linked me up with a local team called ‘Team Ochoa.’” I started learning to hit pads over there. I went to college but I was training on the side. It kind of took off from there. I just wanted to try it one time, honestly. I didn’t want to grow up and be the person that’s like, ‘Man, I could have done that.’ You’ve seen people on TV [like that] so I wanted to try and it just became a career.”
The sport has been kind to Perez. He won his contract on the Contender Series. Since then he has only dropped one fight to Joseph Benavidez, who fights for the title on February 29th. He has gone 5-1 in the UFC with his notable wins being against Espinosa, Mark De La Rosa, Jose Torres and Eric Shelton. Throw the Benavidez fight in there and Perez has taken some tough fights.
As much love as he has for the sport, Alex Perez takes issue with fans reactions to “boring fights” and how the UFC pays fighters.
“I’m there to win, honestly. As crazy as it sounds, I’m there to get two checks, man. That means if I have to get you down and hold you down, it’s not the funnest thing. But man, people don’t understand, they talk a lot of shit and boo you and stuff. But man, it sucks when you go home with one check. It’s not like boxing where you get a guaranteed amount. You get half your purse if you don’t win. I just go out there and my game plan is to collect two checks. Thankfully they’ve been entertaining. But I’ll do whatever it takes to win. I would even punch my mom if I had to.”
Alex Perez At UFC Raleigh
Perez managed to choke out Espinosa from an arm triangle ye had never done before. But being an elite mixed martial artist, he was able to cinch it up on the fly.
“Our game plan wasn’t to really go down. I give a little bit of leeway, if I stay on my feet or I go down. If I’m getting tagged up on the feet, then take him down. If I’m going good on the feet, then why take him down? Literally, he bounced off the cage and was right next to me in my face and I was like, ‘Oh, bear hug.’ It was just an arm triangle. I was trying to pass. My corner was saying, ‘Don’t squeeze your arms out. Don’t burn your arms out.’ I was holding and I’d let go and would start elbowing the body and legs. Then I locked it up again and he was breathing kind of funny. I was like, ‘Man, I’ve never finished it from here but I hear him breathing crazy so I might as well do it.’ It was now or never. Worse case scenario, I’m still on top, I might burn my arms out, but I’m on top and I’ll be able to recover because he won’t have time to get up. I went for it and it was there.”
As for what’s next, Perez wants to fight. While he wants to be as active as possible, he really wants to be on UFC 249 in Las Vegas.
“If I were to pick a card to be on, and they let me, honestly I would be on every other month. But I would love to go April 18th. I would love to be on the pay per view card. But I’m going to stay ready. There’s a lot of flyweight fights coming up. At least one or two on each card. If a short notice comes up, then short notice it is. I’m not worried about rankings or anything. Like I said, I don’t get paid to sit down and hang out. I get paid to fight. Rank or not, I’m coming.”
As for the “who” part of his pay per view wishes, anyone can catch the smoke.
“There’s a few guys. I just want to fight whoever is above me in the rankings. I was 12 or 11. It changes every other week, man. Give me the number 10 guy. Then the 9th guy. I’ll go all the way up the list to number one until I get my title shot. That way when I get my title shot, no one can bitch about it. Nobody can say, ‘He took my title shot.’ I beat everybody. For me, it doesn’t matter.”
While we know Henry Cejudo is being stripped of his flyweight title once Benavidez and Dieveson Figueiredo fight, Cejudo has left his mark on the division. He beat the long-reigning Demetrious Johnson and thwarted TJ Dillashaw’s takeover of the division. When asked how to solve the Cejudo puzzle, Perez plans on attacking the leg and a little more.
“For me, if I was fighting [Cejudo] right now, I would attack that front leg like Moraes did. I would still try to take him down. He’s not used to it. It might not work but I’m still going to get him thinking about stuff. He’d be thinking and it would open up different stuff. But I would attack the legs for sure.”
Around January of last year, right before Cejudo took on Dillashaw, the flyweight division was in jeopardy. Then Cejudo beat Dillashaw and essentially saved the division. While many people had their jobs on the line with the loss of the division, Perez was safe.
“It sucks to say this, but my job was safe. I was going up to 135. I’m a big ‘25er. I’m an average sized ‘35er. I fought at 35 a lot in my career moving back and forth because I ran out of guys to fight in the local scene. It sucks to say it didn’t matter to me, but it’s a selfish sport. But I’m glad they kept 25 because a lot of guys kept their jobs and they’re bringing in new guys. It sucks for the guys that got cut, but at the end of the day you’re looking out for yourself. I’m glad some of the guys got saved but to me that wouldn’t have really mattered. I would have gone to 35.”