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UFC 250: Formiga v Perez Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

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Fighter on Fighter: Breaking down UFC 255’s Alex Perez

Top-ranked Flyweight contender, Alex Perez (No. 4), will challenge knockout artist, Deiveson Figueiredo, for his title this Saturday (Nov. 21, 2020) at UFC 255 inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Perez is absolutely being overlooked in this match up. The man is 6-1 inside the Octagon and has been finishing high-level opposition. He’s well-rounded and dangerous, but he’s not quite as flashy as his “Daico.” Still, he has all the tools necessary to give Figueiredo fits, yet the general public seems to view him as a sacrifice to Brazil’s “God of War.” Perez has put together an impressive body of work in a relatively short time since his “Contender Series” signing. Let’s take a closer look at his skill set:

Striking

Before getting into striking specifics, it’s really important to note that Perez is an athletic specimen. He’s a big Flyweight with serious physical strength, yet Perez can throw punches-in-bunches for long periods of time without slowing down.

UFC 227 Dillashaw v Garbrandt 2 Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Perez’s physicality was best on display opposite then-unbeaten Jose Torres. From the jump, Perez showed little respect for his opponent’s offense, firing power punches constantly. Any time “Shorty” fired back, Perez would immediately answer, often with a stinging cross-hook-cross return. Torres couldn’t back his foe off, and Perez was soon firing combinations into knees or stringing together series of elbow strikes.

Before the end of the first, Torres found himself stuck on the fence, and Perez teed off to end the bout (GIF). In all of his fights, Perez is the one attacking, chasing his opponent with power shots.

There is some method to his aggression, however. Perez does a nice job of slipping his head off the center line as he throws his left hand. When Perez simultaneously jabs with his foes, he usually gets the better of that exchange as a result. Perez will do the same with his left hook, really getting behind his lead shoulder to protect himself while still firing heavy.

Often, Perez initiates combinations behind the right hand. His speed helps make this a viable habit, but Perez also uses the right to crash forward intentionally. He’ll land in the clinch and throw knees, or Perez will roll and come over the top with a heavy left hook/overhand.

As an active offense wrestler, Perez smartly mixes the threat of wrestling into his kickboxing. It’s not uncommon for Perez to reach and touch the inside of his foe’s lead leg while simultaneously firing an overhand. In addition, Perez will actually shoot then look to score with knees or uppercuts as his opponent pushes away.

Perez also kicks pretty fearlessly. He’ll give a quick feint of the arms before trying to dig a low kick, but his primary defense is again keeping his shoulder to his chin and taking his head off the center line. Since Perez is pressuring constantly, he’s usually in range to land punches, which means his kicks will land even if his opponent tries to back off. Very often, Perez will fire his right high kick at the end of combinations, trying to catch his foe circling with his hands low.

Against Jussier Formiga, it took less than a round for Perez to break his foe via low kick.

UFC 250: Formiga v Perez Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

An interesting wrinkle that Perez has also shown with his kicking game is a willingness to fire as his foe tries to counter. Against Joseph Benavidez, for example, Perez was working more with the right body kick to counter his foe’s Southpaw stance. As Benavidez stepped in to fire back, Perez looked for the left hook, using his leg whipping back to provide force for the punch.

The bout with Benavidez did also show the risk in Perez’s game. Perez started offensive like usual, and it worked for a minute. However, when Benavidez started landing counters and flush combinations of his own, Perez visibly looked a bit shaken at having met someone who could match his power and strength. His volume soon dropped off as a result, and Benavidez capitalized with a flurry of punches following a failed takedown attempt.

Wrestling

A high school and collegiate wrestler with considerable athleticism, Perez has thus far proven himself a very solid mixed martial arts (MMA) wrestler.

Perez doesn’t usually look to solely grind down opponents via constant takedowns and top control, but he did so against Eric Shelton. In that bout, he showed a good variety of wrestling techniques. He used the single leg well, changing levels then immediately running the pipe once he latched onto the leg. In addition, Perez managed to chain shots together, running single-leg into double then transitioning to the knee tap as Shelton looked to stop the double with an overhook.

UFC Fight Night: Perez v De La Rosa Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Perez has also shown his strength in the clinch, often looking to break his opponent over with a tight body lock. He’ll look for this technique as a counter as well, stuffing the shot then immediately attacking the body lock as his opponent stands back up.

In a sound mix of offense and defense, Perez has also proven remarkably heavy from the front head lock. His pressure often draws out takedown attempts, and Perez routinely punishes those shots with a heavy sprawl and then hangs on the head. This also ties into his anaconda choke, but we’ll cover that technique momentarily.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Perez has finished seven of his opponents via submission, including three inside the Octagon. He has also been tapped three times, but the most recent of those submission losses came in 2016, and he has yet to be put in submission trouble inside the Octagon.

All but one of Perez’s submission victories come via some form of choke, which makes sense given his wrestling background and heavy front headlock control. The anaconda choke accounts for two of Perez’s UFC victories (if we count “Contender Series”), and he utilized two different setups to land the strangle.

Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series: Perez v Gray Photo by Brandon Magnus/DWTNCS

Against Kevin Gray on “Contender Series,” Perez went immediately to the anaconda choke from the front head lock. Perez likes to snap down on the head from the Gable grip, in which he controls his opponent’s head and neck with his hands clasped palm-to-palm and elbows pinched. Against Gray, Perez controlled via the Gable grip for just a moment before diving his head underneath the body and hitting the gator roll, allowing him to switch to a rear naked choke grip and squeeze.

Watch it below:

In his Octagon debut opposite Carls John de Tomas, Perez largely manhandled his foe on the mat. From the turtle position, Perez allowed himself to fall off the top, initially attacking the arm-across guillotine. When de Tomas fell to his side/Perez was unable to lock up full guard, he simply swam his arm deeper directly into the anaconda choke.

Perez’s third UFC submission win came against Jordan Espinosa, and it’s perhaps the most interesting of the bunch. Technically, Perez finished an arm triangle choke from the wrong side of half guard. However, it was really something of a hybrid choke, combining the mechanics of the Von Flue choke with the positioning of an arm triangle. Long story short: Perez drove a ton of shoulder pressure directly into Espinosa’s throat, and his foe was unable to use the lower half of his body to alleviate any of that pressure and allow blood flow.

No blood flow, no consciousness (GIF).

Conclusion

Perez is certainly flying under the radar here as a result of scoring his best wins on the undercard. He’s a high-action fighter with finishing ability and well-rounded skills, a worthy challenge for Figueiredo’s first title defense and a man with a serious chance at dethroning the Brazilian.

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 255 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2/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 255: “Figueiredo vs. Perez” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.


Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport’s most elite fighters.

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