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Prediction: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Alex Perez | UFC 277

Prediction: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Alex Perez | UFC 277

Alexandre Pantoja

Top flyweights will fight on the card before the interim title for their division is put on the line. With Brandon Moreno taking on Kai Kara-France later in the night, the stage is perfectly set for either contender Alexandre Pantoja or Alex Perez to make a statement about when they should get their shot.

Pantoja, a UFC standout since 2017, has earned his spot at #4 in the rankings. His most recent streak is made up of two wins to Brandon Royval, and Manel Kape, and from earlier in his career, he actually holds two wins over Moreno (one on the Ultimate Fighter), the recently dethroned champion.

Perez, who has been out since 2020 when he came up short in a title bout against the current undisputed champion Deiveson Figueiredo, earned that shot on a three-fight win streak over Jussier Formiga, Jordan Espinosa, and Mark De La Rosa. His fight at UFC 277 will mark his comeback fight, where he will look to prove he is still a notable name amongst the contenders.

UFC 277 is this Saturday night, and the PPV main card will stream live exclusively on ESPN+. Order UFC 277 here to watch every fight live this weekend.

Betting Odds

The more active Pantoja will come in as a -180 favorite against the returning Perez.

Breakdown

Both Pantoja and Perez are extremely aggressive fighters. Pantoja typically tends to come out a little bit faster, but Perez has shown the same ability should the game plan require it. Against “Shorty” Torres back in 2018, Perez came out from the opening bell like a bat out of hell because Torres was relatively known as a cold starter. However, what we have seen more lately from Perez is an inclination to test his opponent with leg kicks for the first few minutes of the fight from the outside if he believes they have the power to respect. Pantoja has one of the heaviest right hands in the 125lb division, so it is likely that we may see a more respectful Perez in the opening moments of this bout.

However, that’s only as much as he can afford to, as Pantoja is known for his tendency to move forward and happily eat a few shots in order to land his own knowing he has the superior potential to cause damage. He likes to cross-step with punches in bunches and is able to move forward freely due to his confidence off of his back. He is constantly throwing up submission threats when taken down, although his greatest success is using these threats to create scrambles where he can ultimately either end up on top and progress to the back or transition to the back immediately. Seven of his nine submission victories came by way of rear-naked choke.

Perez, after testing the waters with his slick low calf kick, usually graduates to a very aggressive style. He overwhelms opponents with a wide shot selection, from knees up the middle to punches through and around the guard with good accuracy and massive ferocity. His speed is very good, along with his work rate, but a lot of his straights and hooks tend to arc over his own shoulder, leaving openings for his opponent to level change. This could be exploited by good grapplers, but he has also utilized its predictable nature in it to set up his anaconda choke.

Prediction

Ultimately, at some point, the two will clash as very game and aggressive fighters. Perez has a bit more of a wide shot selection, while Pantoja the pure one-punch power. Pantoja tends to eventually fade away from the volume and look to land one or two heavy shots at a time, but because Perez may be slightly more reserved early, Pantoja may be ahead on the scorecards early on anyway.

I think that both men are confident in their all-around skills, and we will see some takedown attempts from both sides, but Pantoja is the generally better submission and positional grappler, with Perez having solid wrestling. Pantoja may have a good start but having these grappling exchanges only helps him if Perez’s volume starts to creep up on the feet.

Pick: Alexandre Pantoja to win (-180 odds to win at MyBookie)

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