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Alexandre Pantoja vs. Alex Perez full fight preview | UFC 277

UFC Fight Night: Pantoja v Royval Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight talents Alexandre Pantoja and Alex Perez will face off this weekend (Sat., July 30, 2022) at UFC 277 inside American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

Injuries suck, man. That’s the lesson to take away from Pantoja’s situation, in which a knee injury kept him away from a title match versus then-champion Brandon Moreno, a man he’s defeated twice previously. Instead, the Brandon Moreno vs. Deiveson Figueiredo trilogy went down, there’s going to be an interim title, and everything is all screwy at 125 pounds. Perez finds himself in a difficult situation of being one of the best Flyweights in the world, but also being perhaps slightly too big for the weight class. Injuries, weigh-in mishaps, and general bad luck have kept him out of the cage since Nov. 2020, so the pressure is on for Perez to return with a big statement.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

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CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLE-DIP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, on Sat., July 30, 2022, for the first time in almost four years, headlined by a thrilling women’s Bantamweight championship rematch between division queenpin, Julianna Peña, attempt her first successful title defense against former titleholder and current women’s Featherweight champion, Amanda Nunes. In UFC 277’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, an interim Flyweight champion will be crowned when former titleholder, Brandon Moreno, runs it back with Kai Kara-France.

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

Alexandre Pantoja

Record: 24-5
Key Wins: Brandon Moreno (UFC Fight Night 129), Brandon Royval (UFC Vegas 34), Manel Kape (UFC Vegas 18), Matt Schnell (UFC Fight Night 165), Wilson Reis (UFC 236)
Key Losses: Askar Askarov (UFC Fight Island 2), Deiveson Figueiredo (UFC 240), Dustin Ortiz (UFC 220)
Keys to Victory: It’s not every day the division’s best Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt (arguably) loves to brawl and just so happens to be good at it! Pantoja loves to slug it out, but he’s no dummy and will take any opportunity presented to jump on the back and strangle his opponent.

I hope this fight doesn’t implode like many of Perez’s recent match ups, because this is a real good one. These two have excellent skills on the feet and on the mat, meaning they can compete in all areas, and there’s likely to be some big momentum shifts if the fight doesn’t end early.

That’s a recipe for classic high-pace Flyweight violence.

Pantoja’s absolute key to victory here is to avoid spending time on his back. He’s actually a very solid wrestler, but Pantoja has been out-hustled by more consistent takedown artists previously. Even when his opponents’ top position didn’t amount to much damage or even terribly long periods of control, it cost him close decisions. Perez is likely to employ that gameplan, so Pantoja has to make sure that getting up takes priority over scrambling when put on his back.


Alex Perez

Record: 24-6
Key Wins: Jussier Formiga (UFC 250), Jordan Espinosa (UFC Fight Night 166), Eric Shelton (UFC on FOX 28), Jose Torres (UFC 227)
Key Losses: Deiveson Figueiredo (UFC 255), Joseph Benavidez (TUF 28 Finale)
Keys to Victory: Fight fans have likely forgotten in all his time away, but Perez is a really fun fighter. He has genuine knockout power for the division, and when the collegiate wrestler does turn to his takedowns, he doesn’t just ride for control.

Perez is a finishing threat with ground strikes and submissions alike.

As explained above, the takedown is likely an important factor in Perez’s success. However, he cannot attempt to go out there and simply wrestle Pantoja — it’s not that easy. To complete takedowns, Perez has to really engage on the feet and trade some big blows. There’s risk involved, sure, but Pantoja is far easier to take down when he’s planting his feet and swinging.

In general, I’d like to see Perez really push the pace here. Pantoja is an elite Flyweight, so he doesn’t gas necessarily, but the Brazilian has slowed down late in fights more than Perez. Again, the odds of a close, competitive fight appear high, so a strong finishing round could sway the judges’ decision.


Bottom Line

Is the Flyweight division a mess right now with Figueiredo maybe leaving and an interim belt on the way? Certainly, but at least there’s no longer a risk of the whole thing getting canned. This remains a killer fight with title implications.

Pantoja earned a title shot already when he strangled Royval before circumstances derailed his rubber match with Moreno. “The Assassin Baby” is set to fight for the interim title again later Saturday night, and if he wins that bout, Pantoja is once again in extremely good position to fight for the belt once this whole interim business is resolved. Even if it all shakes out and Figueiredo remains the strap-hanger, who saw their first fight and isn’t down for a rematch?

Conversely, this is Perez’s chance to prove where he stands at 125 pounds. A win here definitively shows that Perez is still a contender in the Top 5, and there’s a ton of potential fresh match ups for him. He’s never fought Moreno, Royval, Kai-Kara France, and all of those match ups sound like BANGERS.

At UFC 277, Alexandre Pantoja and Alex Perez will duel in a pivotal Flyweight clash. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 277 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ABC/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 277: “Pena vs. Nunes 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.