Toby Misech is no stranger to being the underdog, which is a role he will play once again this Friday night when he welcomes Erik Perez to the Bellator cage.
“2 Quick” will take on the former UFC standout on the main card of Bellator 235. The event takes place at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, and will be headlined by a heavyweight showdown between Josh Barnett and Ronny Markes.
In his most recent appearance, Misech stepped in on short notice to face former bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas at February’s Bellator 215 event. While the fight didn’t go his way — losing a unanimous decision — the 31-year-old Misech was able to show his toughness and tenacity to last the entire 15 minutes. With learning experiences intact, the Hawaiian fighter is ready to right the wrong on Friday night.
“I feel great, man,” Misech told The Body Lock. “I can’t wait to get in there and put in this work. I’ve been on a long fight camp, over 20-something weeks. I just want to go to work, get in that cage and have some fun.”
Misech returns to the scene of his Bellator debut where he opened up a lot of eyes in front of a hometown crowd. At Bellator 212 a little over a year ago, Misech finished Edward Thommes with a beautiful flying knee and a barrage of punches to pick up his first organizational victory. After a failed bid on Dana White’s Contender Series, Misech has been competing under the Bellator banner ever since.
With Brian Moore forced to withdraw from a scheduled bout with Misech due to injury in September, Misech has been able to use his extra time wisely as he prepares to face Perez, who is nearly a 3-1 favorite on Friday night.
“I looked at [losing the fight with Brian Moore] as a blessing,” Misech said. “I got extra time to train and get out there to perform at my best in front of my hometown against a higher level guy. If I put him away, it puts me right back up there.”
Perez signed with Bellator earlier this year and is ready to make a run at the 135-pound title. “Goyito” is on a five-fight winning streak, including three straight wins in the UFC before making the decision to sign with Combate Americas as a free agent. The 30-year-old Perez finished both of his fights under the Combate banner before announcing his very brief retirement from the sport.
Now that he has signed with Bellator, Misech is ready to welcome him with open arms as he has an opportunity to make a big statement in the bantamweight division.
“My whole career, it didn’t matter who I’ve fought,” Misech explained. “I’ve fought anyone they’ve put in front of me. I don’t pick and choose. My journey to where I am now, I’ve always gotten top fighters. I’ve never gotten an easy fight, and if I beat him and I get to the title, it all pays off. Nobody can say anything about me having an easy road. It’s exciting that I’m fighting a high-level guy like him in my hometown. It makes it better.”
When this fight was made official, a majority of the MMA fan base believed that this would be a showcase fight for Perez, which would mean, essentially, that Misech is being positioned as a stepping stone for a streaking fighter who has had success in the UFC.
Misech has heard that chatter his entire career, and at this point, he’s taking it all in stride. In fact, it makes him feel like the pressure is all on Perez.
“It is what it is. Every single guy I fight, I’m always the underdog,” Misech said. “It’s fine. It just makes me more motivated. It makes me feel like I have something to prove. If I lose, I was expected to lose. If I win, I shock the world.
“It actually does [put less pressure on me]. They expect me to lose, so whatever. Even when I fought Edward [Thommes], they had me down on that fight too. It doesn’t really matter who I fight. They always got me down.”
Perez headed into free agency after his split decision win over Felipe Arantes at UFC Fight Night 98 in November 2016, compiling a 7-2 record inside the Octagon. Perez has an advantage in the experience department as he heads into his 26th professional fight, while Misech has been the more active fighter over the last few years.
That’s not the only advantage Misech feels he has heading into Friday night’s bantamweight showdown.
“I feel my speed and being more technical will be my advantages,” Misech said. “I see he comes out, throws a little wild. My technique and my speed will be a big factor in this fight.
“I need this win. I need this win to prove that I’m still in the running to be a champ. It’s in front of my hometown so I can’t let them down. I need this win, and I need this win bad.”
Misech isn’t getting specific on how he sees his hand getting raised in front of his hometown crowd. When Misech is victorious, most of the time it doesn’t go to the judges’ scorecards. On Friday night, Misech is going to let the fight play out the way it’s supposed to, which hopefully leads to the Hawaiian crowd going crazy.
“This will be big for Hawaii,” Misech stated. “Hopefully, this will be big for me getting that finish. Whether it’s a knockout, submission, or any kind of stoppage, I see it going my way.”
A win over Erik Perez will do big things for the career of Toby Misech. Now that the bantamweight title is vacant due to Kyoji Horiguchi’s injuries, the 135-pound division is pretty wide open. While he is certainly not looking past Friday night, with a victory over Perez, Misech will be eyeing an opportunity to take on another former UFC contender in the Bellator cage.
“I’m hoping to get this win, stay active, and fight another top guy to get me next in line for that title,” Misech said. “I saw that Sergio Pettis just got signed. I would love to have a striking fest with him. The plan is to keep knocking off these top guys and get to the title.”