Rising bantamweight contender, Erik Perez, will make his highly-anticipated return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Octagon this Wednesday (Aug. 28, 2013) at UFC Fight Night 27 following a battle with staph infection, which forced the Mexican-born fighter off his UFC 159 bout against Johnny Bedford.
Owner of an eight-fight win streak (3-0 UFC), the delay momentarily halted "Goyito's" momentum heading into his bout against Takeya Mizugaki in Indianapolis, Indiana, winner of two straight.
According to Perez, he now feels "200-percent" and is fully recovered from his fight against staph, but says that his two-month battle with the infection was one that forced him into a depression.
"I was depressed and went to Mexico," Perez revealed on "The MMA Hour." "And you know, my mom is from Mexico, so my mom cooked me a lot of food. So I was just eating and eating, and I got fat," joked Perez, who says he ballooned all the way up to 180 pounds.
Bursting onto the UFC scene with three impressive finishes, Perez looks to not only cement his spot in the 135-pound division, but also help mixed martial arts (MMA) become a staple in his native country of Mexico, much like boxing is.
And according to "Goyito," he says the sport of MMA, and UFC as a company, can become bigger than the sweet science in a few more years.
"The UFC is getting bigger and bigger; five years ago, to now," said Perez. "I think UFC needs to go to Mexico right now because a lot of people know UFC and a lot of people see UFC. I think in a couple more years, it will be more famous than boxing. Yeah, in five years or 10 years more, why not?"
And while he would love nothing more than to be an ambassador for the sport of MMA in Mexico alongside UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, Perez, just like Cain, wants to be the man holding the title while helping the sport grow.
"I don't want to be the guy who opened the doors to Mexico," he said, "I want to be the guy that opened the doors to Mexico and have the belt."
He's certainly on the right track, but he'll face perhaps his toughest challenge to date inside the Octagon when he tangos against Mizugaki, a 26-fight veteran who would love nothing more than to derail the "Goyito" hype train.