Rather than talk about what happened at UFC San Antonio last night (Sat. March 25, 2023), I’d like to talk about what didn’t happen. Namely, the cancelation of planned main card opener Alex Perez vs. Manel Kape, one of just three intended fights between two ranked athletes.
Unfortunately, just about a half-hour before he was supposed to make the walk to the cage, the broadcast announced that Perez was removed due to a medical issue. There was no follow up statement or elaboration at the time of the broadcast, but this tweet from UFC Bantamweight, Vince Morales, was both ominous and telling.
Not my place to talk about what happened with Alex. Scary stuff but hopefully it eases everyone's minds that by the time the EMTs got there, he was together and speaking okay. Watch the slander.— Vince Morales (@vandetta135) March 25, 2023
Rather than beat around the bush, I’ll point out the probable cause bluntly: Perez cuts a lot of weight. This can manifest itself in several ways: feinting, seizing, vomiting, general illness, heart palpitations, and plenty more potentially fight-canceling ways. The line between gaining an advantage and sending yourself to the hospital is extremely difficult to see, and it’s one that’s troubled Perez previously.
Indeed, hours after UFC San Antonio wrapped, Perez issued an alarming update:
“First and foremost, I want to thank everyone for all the support and concerns,” Perez wrote. “I was doing my pre-fight warm-up and had a seizure. I immediately received medical attention. My hydration, electrolytes, etc were all more than adequate. This has nothing to do with [my] weight cut. It was one of the easiest cuts of my career. I will be undergoing further testing in the upcoming weeks to determine the cause. I would appreciate privacy. My apologies to my opponent and fans. Thank you to the UFC medical team for their help and support.”
Nevertheless, what’s interesting is that Perez’s problem is not unique, particularly at Flyweight. UFC’s smallest division has seen several members repeatedly struggle with the cut, and the reasoning is clear. From an objective standpoint, there are simply more men on the Bantamweight roster, so it’s harder to stand out. On a more subjective front, Bantamweight is likely the most talent-rich division globally and in the Octagon, meaning it’s much more challenging to climb the ladder.
The result of these circumstances is that anyone who has even a slim shot at making 125 pounds is going to try, because a title shot is only two or three potential wins away. Perez himself earned a title shot in his eighth UFC fight, riding a three-fight win streak.
Why wouldn’t he roll that dice when the rewards are so grand?
Perez, his ill-fated would-be opponent Matt Schnell, former champion Deiveson Figueiredo, Ray Borg, Ian McCall, John Lineker — all of these are names who have made the 125-pound limit. However, they have also missed it, or they’re unable to make it to the cage at the very last second. A third bad, but frequent, outcome: the weight is made, but the performance is severely affected.
Realistically, the only solution here is for Flyweight to develop. Globally, Flyweight may not be as developed as Bantamweight, but there’s more talent than just exists on UFC’s roster. Until that’s reflected, Bantamweights will keep chancing the cut, and matches will continue getting canceled during fight week.
For complete UFC San Antonio: “Sandhagen vs. Vera” results and play-by-play, click HERE.