UFC Vegas 93: Tatsuro Taira Takedown Leaves Alex Perez Unable to Continue

Alex Perez and Tatsuro Taira, UFC Vegas 93
Alex Perez and Tatsuro Taira, UFC Vegas 93 weigh-in Credit: Youtube/UFC

Alex Perez and Tatsuro Taira capped off the night at UFC Vegas 93, a Fight Night card that felt very much overshadowed by a rocky week for the promotion, with Conor McGregor and Khamzat Chimaev both pulling out of key upcoming bouts.

Taira, however, was an undefeated 15-0, and the first title contender out of Japan arguably since Kyoji Horiguchi. He was getting step up against Perez, who faced Deveison Figueiredo in an unsuccessful title bid in 2020.

Early in Saturday’s main event, it was Perez putting the Japanese youngster on the fence, though he struggled to keep him there. Instead, Taira turned things around and fired a knee off the break. Undeterred, Perez moved in, ripped a few shots to the body and tried to clinch up again, to no avail. What was working for Perez, however, was making the fight a brawl, as he threw wide, looping hooks and nasty uppercuts throughout the round, forcing Taira out of his comfort zone and negating his biggest strength, his grappling. Towards the end of the frame, Perez mixed in some low kicks, and landed a straight right. With exactly one minute on the clock, Perez suffered an eye poke, which halted the action.

With the action back underway, Perez got the action down, but he couldn’t keep it there, with Taira immediately back to his feet.

Less than a minute into the second round, that scene repeated itself. Ref Herb Dean gave Taira a warning this time around; Perez came out firing off the restart, and continued to mix in his calf kicks. Taira would fire back with his jab and some low kicks of his own, but he was less active, and in need of a momentum shift – which he got by changing levels and driving into a takedown. Taira wound up climbing the back instead, with Perez carrying his opponent’s full weight well off the cage. Taira had a body triangle on, and wasn’t going anywhere. They dropped to the ground a moment later, after Taira leaned back, shifting his weight- and Alex Perez appeared to injure his knee in the process, immediately tapping and ending the fight.

After the win, Taira called for a title fight with flyweight champ Alexandre Pantoja.

Official Result: Tatsuro Taira def. Alex Perez by TKO (injury), Round 2, 2:59