Alex Perez: Making his Mark
On December 9th 2017, Brian Ortega defeated Cub Swanson as part of a prospect-filled card in Fresno, California. Eryk Anders, Andre Soukamthath and Benito Lopez impressed on the night, but maybe the most impressive performance came from UFC debutant and California native Alex Perez. Perez put on a clinic in the fight and dominated his heavily overweight opponent en route to a victory via Anaconda choke merely two minutes into the second round.
The CSAC made a judgement call leading up to the bout that Carls Jon De Tomas was too far out of his required weight in the build up and so forced Perez to move up, despite remaining professional and being on weight himself. As far as the actual fight though, it all went to plan as far as Alex is concerned; ‘I was expecting a guy that was good everywhere, I expected him to throw heavy and I expected to have the advantage on the ground, which I did’.
At only 25 years old, the prospect tag certainly fits the bill for Perez, but he’s a little more experienced than others his age, having racked up 23 fights already. Speaking to SpitballingPod about his feelings now that he has officially been signed to the UFC, he said ‘It felt amazing. I felt like it was a long time coming and I felt like I should have been there years ago, but everything happens for a reason. I got in, I signed my contract and then boom, they’re having a show in my hometown – it was just meant to be.’
Alex made his professional MMA debut at only eighteen years old, and so he feels that already at this stage of his career, he has faced enough adversity to be able to benefit him later in his UFC career; ‘Yeah, I’ve been through a lot of stuff in my career already - I’ve lost two fights back to back early in my career and then come back to win a title, I’ve lost my title and lost another two back to back and then won three or four in a row to make it to the UFC. I feel like I’ve been through a little more adversity than some other fighters. Some people just get handed their UFC contracts, but I feel like I actually had to work for mine’.
Even outside of the cage, Perez explained how his level of training plays a huge part in preparing him for the increased level of talent now that he’s in the UFC; ‘I train with the best people around (Chito Vera, Joe Soto, Carla Esparza, Alex Reyes to name a few). I already feel like I can compete with the best’.
With wins via knockout, submission and decision, this flyweight prospect has clearly proven to be well rounded, explaining ‘I’m not trying to be the best boxer, or the best jiu-jitsu guy, I’m just trying to be well rounded. I work hard at what I do and I’m trying to stay in here for a long time and make some money in this sport’.
Alex entered the world of MMA by chance: As an esteemed wrestler in school he offered to help his friend and it spiralled from there onwards. He recounts ‘I was actually helping a friend out with his wrestling and then happened to see him hitting pads and sparring, so thought I wanted to give that a try. MMA still wasn’t as big as it is now, but I went to a fight at Tachi Palace, where WEC was born and where some of the best guys in the world had fought. I decided I wanted to try it at least once and see what happened – I had my first amateur fight and then I fell in love with it’.
At the time of our interview, Alex explained that he was hoping to be back in the octagon very soon, citing two dates in particular – ‘I’m hoping for February in Texas or March 3rd in Vegas, I’m open to anything really, I’m in shape all the time, I’m the gym every day, so I’m just waiting for the call’.
Although he has yet to nail down a date, Perez has two names in particular as to who he’d like to out on a show against next; ‘The two guys I have in mind where I think we could put on a good show are Eric Shelton and Matt Schnell, they’re both tough guys and I think it would be a good fight. All three of us are well rounded, I’m not trying to take the easy route, I’m not trying to disrespect anybody, I just think they’re the best fights and we could hopefully win that bonus’. It remains to be seen which direction the UFC will look to go with the young fighter, as he still remains un-booked at this moment in time.
At the moment of realising that he wouldn’t be going to the Olympics as a wrestler, Alex admitted that he was immediately looking for his next area to compete. Looking to the rest of 2018, he cited that staying active was his main goal, and then hopefully breaking the top 10. His ultimate goals though are setting the bar slightly higher – ‘My ultimate goal is to chase the title and start my own legacy. My biggest thing is being able to retire and know that I did everything to the best of my ability’.