Alex Perez: No Backward Steps
Since I last spoke to Alex Perez, he has defeated Eric Shelton (who he called out in our last interview), returned to training and been scheduled to fight Jose ‘Shorty’ Torres as the featured bout on the Fight Pass prelims at UFC227 this weekend.
In the bout against Shelton, Perez recorded a unanimous decision victory but conceded that he wasn’t happy with his own performance – ‘I actually wasn’t too happy with my performance; I think I’m better than that. But a win is a win, I’ll take it and move on. After that fight, I took some time off, carried on training and got better. Some people rush into fights and don’t train to get better, so I’ve been evolving my game while waiting’ he said.
For Perez, the most important thing to do next was to rest; it’s easy for a fighter to simply keep their eyes on the prize, keep plodding on and ultimately not allow their body a chance to replenish itself. By the time he steps into the octagon this Saturday, it will have been nearly 6 months since his last bout; ‘I usually ask my manager every week, like ‘hey, any fight news?’ but after the last fight I gave him a little time off without me bugging him and worried about getting better before I return’ he explained.
The UFC’s website holds fighter profiles for each member of the roster and included on the profile is a percentage breakdown of the fighters style preferences. You can take the breakdown with a pinch of salt, but for Perez it lists his striking as only 13% of his game. With a percentage that low, you’d expect that Perez would be looking to take each of his fights to the mat, but he explains that’s not the case. ‘It’s just whatever feels right in the fight, every fight is different. Ultimately, I just try to stick to my coach’s game-plan. Obviously if I’m fighting a guy that’s really good on the ground then I won’t want to take him down and if the guy was good on his feet, then I’d want to take him down. I just go with the flow and how I feel during the fight’ he said.
Following his fight with Stipe Miocic, Daniel Cormier spoke about the importance of watching tape before his fights and explained how it was there that he noticed Stipe lowered his hands when leaving the clinch (and we all know how that ended). I asked Alex as to whether he watched much tape himself, or whether he left that to his coaches - ‘I do watch tape but after a while I’ll just leave that to my coaches; we have good coaching staff and they’re very good at breaking it down in terms of when the fight is on the ground or when the fight is on the feet, I kinda watch for a while and then let my coaches do the rest’.
Some fighters make a big point to watch their own fights back and pick them apart stringently, whereas others hate watching themselves after a bout. ‘I watch my fight a couple of times and figure out how I can improve and what worked, I coach also, so I try to pick out little details as to where I went wrong?’ he said. Alex then continued to explain how his time coaching helps to improve his technique – ‘Definitely, you correct yourself without even knowing it, you can be doing it wrong but explaining it right, and then when teaching it you can break those bad habits and think outside of the box’.
When it comes to the match-up with Torres, this bout could well steal the show; when asked how the pair match up, Perez said ‘‘I think our styles match up good, we’re similar, we both come forward and it’ll be interesting who can capitalise on those smaller details. I really don’t like going backwards and I’m sure he doesn’t either. It’ll make it an exciting fight for everybody’.
Perez said he’s happy with the match-up but said he’s happy to fight anybody. Explaining his mentality, he said ‘I just take it one fight at a time, I’m a company guy, I’ll fight anyone. Someone has to lose and nobody stays undefeated, so I’m not scared to lose, I’ll fight anyone, that’s what I’m paid to do. A lot of guys take offence if I call them out, but firstly I’m just trying to get paid, but I’m not calling them out because I think they’re shitty, if I wanted to face someone like that then I wouldn’t be in the UFC’.
At least the prospect won’t need to travel far for the fight and by the sounds of things, he’s sure to get a good reception in the arena - ‘I feel good, it’s just down the street from where I’m living now, it’s basically in my backyard. My family are 3 hours away, they’re coming down. My friends from the gym are coming down, I’m going in there to fight, my main objective is to win and I’m going to put on a show’.
You can catch the fight live this weekend on UFC Fight Pass as the featured prelim to UFC227. Don’t miss it!