Alex Perez went into UFC 250 an underdog, and came out a title contender.
Brazil’s Jussier Formiga, who has been in the mix at flyweight off and on over the years, holds a win over Deiveson Figueiredo — who will take another stab at earning flyweight gold against Joseph Benavidez later this summer.
He’s fought some of the top flyweights in the world. But in Las Vegas Saturday, Perez proved to be the better man. Emphatically. A decisive TKO via leg kicks — rarely seen, although occurring for the second straight event (Chris Gutierrez at UFC Vegas having the other) — sealed the deal.
Now Perez (24-5) has a head of steam build up, three straight wins putting him in contention himself. The win over Formiga easily the biggest of his career.
Speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press backstage on Saturday, Perez discussed how the bonus-winning finish came about.
“Just something I saw,” Perez admitted. Rather than the leg kicks being something he’d planned in advance. With his opponent continually lunging forward, even as Perez was throwing strikes, “I just threw it. And I kept landing, so I kept going back to it.”
The whole division is now on his radar, he’d tell us. When it comes to who he has an eye on, “honestly, on everybody,” was Perez’s response. “To be a champion, you’ve got to fight everybody. It doesn’t matter if I fight them now or later. I know Joe and Figueiredo are going to fight for the title.”
Alex Perez has his own plan set for that fight. “I’m going to Fight Island and hopefully I’ll be the replacement. If I have to, I’ll fly myself out,” he stated. “Hopefully they fight, if not I’ll step in. Doesn’t matter which one.”
Speaking in the virtual post-fight media scrum following UFC 250, Perez added that “I feel like I’m right in the mix. The UFC usually takes one of the guys from the top five to get a title shot. So I feel like I’m right in the mix. I feel like Moreno got a decision over [Formiga]. I finished this guy.”
“[Alexandre] Pantoja’s booked already, so I mean, I’ll be on Fight Island. I’ll go out there just to be the backup, just in case,” he continued. “To me it doesn’t matter if I get it that night, or get it after but I’ll be getting ready for that.”
As for his pick if the rematch between Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo goes down as planned, “I just think Figueiredo hits too hard,” Perez said. “Joe’s great, he’s good everywhere don’t get me wrong. But in the first fight I thought the ground was going to be a great advantage [for him], but Figueiredo surprised me with the jiu-jisu.”