Alex Perez: UFC on ESPN 55 Main Event Triumph 'Just Shows That I’m Still Here'

UFC
April 29, 2024
Alex Perez just wanted to remind the rest of the flyweight division of his presence.

The Team Oyama product did so in emphatic fashion at UFC on ESPN 55, as he knocked out Matheus Nicolau 2:16 into the second round of their headlining encounter at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night. On the heels of a three-bout skid and multiple fight cancellations, it was a much-needed performance for the former title challenger.

“It just shows that I’m still here. I never thought I went anywhere. I think the division kind of did, Perez said at the post-fight press conference. “Obviously coming off all those fights getting canceled and obviously my last three fights not going the way I wanted to. Thank God for my team and my friends and family that kept pushing me in the right direction. Just show the division I’m back in it.”

To earn his first UFC victory since June 2020, Perez admitted that he had to change his mindset. To do that, the 32-year-old Californian leaned on his team.

“Honestly, I had to change a lot of mental things,” Perez said. “Don’t get me wrong, when the fights started canceling and stuff like that, I felt like, ‘Damn, what’s going on?’ I felt sad and stuff, but at the end of the day, like I tell people, just because something is going bad in your life doesn’t mean life stops. I have a son, I have my bills to pay. I have to keep grinding.

“…I just kind of kept moving forward and listened to my team. … All these guys that kind of stuck with me by my side and told me, ‘Hey, you’re one of the best in the world.’ I spar with these guys nonstop, I train with these guys, and I can hang with these guys. ... Confidence, yes I still had it. It was just showing the world that I still had it and I think I did that tonight.”

Ending his slump the way he did was especially meaningful for Perez, who has taken some ribbing from those close to him due to his lack of knockout victories in recent years. That changed with a one-punch finish of Nicolau on Saturday.

“… All my friends always call me ‘Pillow Hands’. Now they can’t call me that no more,” Perez said. “My buddy was calling me ‘ASP,’ Alex ‘Sleeping Pill’ Perez — not because I was putting people to sleep. But because I was putting him to sleep every time he would commentate my fights because I’d just take the guy down. It just shows that I’m evolving. Obviously, the footwork was a little different. I have some stuff that I’ve been working on that I haven’t been able to show. … But it showed off tonight. We’re going to keep working and going from there.”

Reference: https://www.sherdog.com/news/news/Alex-Perez-UFC-on-ESPN-55-Main-Event-Triumph-Just-Shows-That-Im-Still-Here-193496

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