Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight hitters Erik Perez and Francisco Rivera threw down last night (July 30, 2016) at UFC 201 inside Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
Once one of the division’s hottest prospects, things have cooled down for Perez due to a couple tough losses and some injury time off. However, he returned successfully in his last bout, and "Goyito" was looking to start a new win streak last night.
Rivera’s recent results haven’t been ideal either. He’s lost four out of his last five fights, though he has been facing competition. This was a big fight for him, as it could determine whether he still has a place in UFC. Rivera started quickly, landing some clean punches while slipping his foe’s shots. Once Perez settled into his range a bit, the exchanges became a bit more even, though neither man was landing with much consistency.
In the last two minutes of the round, Perez began to pick up the pace. He scored with some hard strikes, including a jump knee, and generally put the pressure on Rivera.
Rivera landed the cleaner blows, but Perez landed more and was on the aggressive. On the whole, it was a tough round to call.
In the second round, Perez began to open up a bit more and really find his range. On the outside, Perez showed some interesting movement. Though he didn’t exactly use it technically to set up his shots — he’s clearly still in the start of that process — Perez did avoid the vast majority of his opponent’s punches.
For the most part, Perez landed lots of kicks and some body punches. He also scored with a double leg along the fence to finish the round, which was the cherry on top of a fairly solid round.
The third round started with an absolutely insane brawl. Both men dropped their hands and threw bombs for a solid 40 seconds. Though most of them missed, the two men were so exhausted that a sloppy shot was more than enough to trip up Rivera and land Perez in top position.
For most of the next four minutes, Perez hung out in top position and beat up his opponent’s body. Rivera finally worked up to his feet in the last 20 seconds and tried to incite a brawl, but nothing really happened.
Perez may not be the most technical fighter around, but he fought an intelligent bout — besides the random brawling — that allowed him to pick up a win over a long time veteran. By keeping his range and out-working Rivera from range, he put the pressure on Rivera to come forward and swing at air.
Eventually, this opened up some key takedowns as well.
More than anything else, Perez’s conditioning won him the bout. Whenever both men had to dig deep and fight hard, Perez would leave the exchange with enough energy to push forward just a bit more.
Following this win, it’s clear that Perez still has some learning to do despite his talent. If he is to receive a top 15 opponent, it should be someone just inside the rankings, such as Frankie Saenz.
Rivera looked very crisp early in the fight, as he often does. However, there is a definite flaw in his game, as Rivera always seems to grow less effective as the fight wears on.
Part of that is definitely cardio. It’s hard to be a successful Bantamweight who cannot stay consistent for three hard rounds. However, he also seems to fail to adjust, as Rivera spent a lot of time swinging at air once Perez stepped up his movement.
Had he spent more time cutting off the cage or chopping down Perez’s legs — something he did well but did not commit to — he may have found a different result.
Either way, his UFC future is not uncertain.
At UFC 201, Erik Perez brawled past Francisco Rivera in a solid performance. Is the Mexican fighter a future contender?
For complete UFC 201: "Lawler vs Woodley" results and play-by-play, click HERE!