Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight prospects Alejandro Perez and Albert Morales will scrap this Saturday (Sept. 17, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 94 inside State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas. In a match up of aggressive young fighters, what adjustments must be made for either man to claim victory? Let's break it down.
Though he’s just 27 years old, Perez has been a professional fighter for about 11 years now. Despite that experience, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Latin America" winner is still improving, and he’s looked quite good in recent appearances. Meanwhile, Morales has been a professional for less than two years, but he’s already picked up six straight wins. On the regional scene, Morales has been an effective finisher, and "The Warrior" jumped at the chance to fill in for Manny Gamburyan on short notice.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both athletes:
Key Wins: Scott Jorgensen (TUF: "Latin America" 2 Finale), Ian Entwistle (UFC Fight Night 86), Jose Alberto Quinonez (UFC 180)
Key Losses: Patrick Williams (UFC 188)
Keys to Victory: Perez is a rather well-rounded Bantamweight, but he definitely prefers to strike. He's won eight fights via knockout, including his last two bouts inside the Octagon.
In this match up, Perez is facing an opponent with a similar style but far less experience. Both men are aggressive finishers with solid kickboxing and jiu-jitsu, meaning it's likely to be an exciting match up. Perez's main advantage in this bout might just be his wrestling. He's come a long way in that area, and his work with American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) has shored up his game, allowing him to defend takedowns with much more success.
Additionally, Perez showed a really nasty top game in his last bout. If things are close on the feet, Perez would be wise to change levels, put his foe on the mat, and smash him with ground strikes.
Key Wins: Mario Israel (RFA 38)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Morales is a highly aggressive young fighter, as he's finished five of his six opponents, with three of those victories coming in the first round. In his last bout, he knocked out Team Black House veteran Mario Israel in just 20 seconds. In his short career, he's competed in RFA, World Series of Fighting, and Bellator.
Since this is a short-notice match and his offense is rather potent, Morales definitely wants to come out of the gate swinging. His opponent has been finished in four of his six losses, including his sole UFC defeat. While both men are finishers, Perez generally breaks his opponent down over a longer period of time. Morales, on the other hand, is more immediately dangerous, and he could dramatically change the fight with a big punch early.
Alternatively, Morales could look for the takedown. He's a dangerous grappler, and an early takedown could put him in a position to end the bout before it really gets started.
Bottom line: It should be a fun scrap between Bantamweight up-and-comers.
As a whole, fighters from TUF: "Latin America" have done far better than most expected, and Perez is no exception. His quick loss to Williams set expectations low, but he’s really proven himself to be a solid addition to the division. If he can make it three in a row here, Perez is likely ready to face off with an opponent in the Top 15.
Alternatively, a loss is a clear setback. He’s more experienced than his opponent, who’s taking this on short-notice. If he comes up short, Perez will find himself at the bottom of the Bantamweight ladder once again. On the other hand, Morales is in a pretty solid position. Since he isn’t coming into this bout on a full camp, there’s not really anything to lose. Plus, if he wins, it’s a great moment that will establish him as a serious fighter to watch.
Win or lose, Morales seems to have some potential. Fighters that finish most of their regional fights and get picked up by UFC this quickly often turn out to be damn good.
At UFC Fight Night 94, Alejandro Perez and Albert Morales will throw down. Which fighter will leave the Octagon with the victory?