Alejandro Perez and Jonathan Martinez are scheduled to fight on the UFC Fight Night 202 prelims this Saturday night.
Perez, a 32-year-old bantamweight, is 22-8 as a professional mixed martial artist and 8-3-1 in the UFC. He has nine knockout and six submission victories compared to two knockout and three submission losses. Martinez, only 27, is 14-4 as a pro and 5-3 in the UFC. He’s finished 9 fights and has only been finished once himself.
Martinez is a sizeable betting favorite making Perez a valuable underdog if he wins.
- Martinez: -225
- Martinez: +185
Perez, similarly to many of his fellow countrymen turned fighters, is a tough and decently technical boxer. He typically has lower volume, averaging 3.5 significant strikes per minute; but, when he lets his hands go, he throws combinations with good hand speed and power. While his shots often come from a high guard and snap well with proper technique, Perez can be baited into a firefight where he swings too big and can overextend. This leaves his chin exposed and has resulted in 2 knockout losses. Defensively, when he stays within himself, he keeps a high boxing guard, has solid head movement, and can counter shots well. Below the waist, Perez offers very little offensively. He rarely throws kicks but can check them well. Ultimately, Perez is a solid boxer with the volume and power to win many fights; but, up until this point, he hasn’t fully developed from a boxer to a mixed martial artist. Because of his high guard and lower volume, he is susceptible to creative kickers, especially body kicks, and high-pressure fighters. But, in boxing range, Perez still packs a punch.
As far as creative kickers go, few others come to mind before Martinez. At only 27 years old, Martinez has already made a name for himself in the bantamweight division as a guy who will snap kicks over and over, cracking the calf, thudding the midsection, and landing quickly on the jaw. Martinez’s kick heavy approach is aided by his springy reflexes and quick combinations with his hands. He pushes a high volume but an intelligent one designed to move his opponent’s guard lower so he can land a 1,2 to the chin or a kick to the temple. Defensively, Martinez relies more on movement and reflexes rather than technique. He likes to walk forward, exchange in the center of the cage, then land a kick before he exits the pocket. Rinse and repeat. This approach has proved successful but, when Martinez exits the pocket, he often exits like a tall fighter- with his chin high as he backs straight up. If an opponent can eat Martinez’s combination and counter on the centerline, Martinez is there to be hit.
I see Martinez dictating range and pace in this one. His kicks, to the heavy calf and open midsection of Perez should be open all fight. Perez will have flurries and moments, but, so long as Martinez protects his chin, he should get the win.
Prediction: Martinez by decision
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.