After six years and over 20 fights into his MMA career, flyweight Alex Perez was finally able to make his breakthrough into the UFC in 2017.
Starting off his year with wins in Tachi PF in February, then CFFC in March, Perez was given an opportunity to showcase his skills at Dana White’s Contender Series in August, knowing full well he was in a potentially make or break situation versus Kevin Gray.
“They told me basically Dana White picked the winner; it could be one, it could be none; and for the contract you need to go out there and look impressive,” Perez told MMAWeekly.com. “My mindset was to just go out there and either I’ll knock him out or he’ll knock me out. I knew if I could get a finish, at a smaller weight, it would be impressive if I could do that.”
“I thought about myself being (in the UFC) a long time ago, but it didn’t work out that way,” said Perez. “My road was harder than some people’s. I don’t complain though. It taught me a lot.
“I had so many fights outside the UFC, and I had ups and downs. But without those ups and downs, I wouldn’t be who I am. If I wasn’t who I am, I wouldn’t be where I’m at. It taught me so many lessons. I’m just thankful to go through all that and experience all that, so now that I’m here, I’m here to stay.”
At UFC on FOX 28 on Saturday in Orlando, Fla., Perez (19-4) will look to pick up his second win in the promotion when he faces Eric Shelton (11-4) in a preliminary 125-pound bout.
“I asked to fight (Shelton) because he’s one of the toughest guys in the division,” Perez said. “I like to push myself extremely hard.
“For me to get this win, I just have to be better than him everywhere. He’s very well-rounded, so to come out on top I have to be better than him at all aspects. If I make one mistake, I’ll lose this fight. I’m going in there, getting everything ready, and I feel great.”
Though he prefers to approach each opportunity as it comes his way, Perez would like to see himself among the upper echelon of the flyweight division by the end of 2018.
“I take it fight by fight, but I do have goals,” said Perez. “My goal is to hopefully win three fights this year and hopefully make it to the Top 10.”