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UFC Fight Night prediction — Matheus Nicolau vs. Alex Perez: Fight card, odds, start time, live stream

It would be a feat for any card to follow up UFC 300 but the gap between the pay-per-view and this week’s Fight Night is astronomical. Matheus Nicolau and Alex Perez, two flyweights coming off losses, headline the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Nicolau (19-4-1) was scheduled to rematch Manel Kape multiple times, including this weekend. Their January sequel was scrapped after Kape weighed 3.5 pounds over the flyweight limit. Kape subsequently pulled out of this main event booking, allowing Perez to step up on notice. Nicolau looked like a solid contender before his decision-heavy, six-fight winning streak was snapped by Brandon Royval via first-round KO last year. Having trained with UFC Hall of Famer Jose Aldo ahead of UFC 301 next week, Nicolau is ready for a five-round war with Perez.

“I was training boxing with him,” Nicolau tells CBS Sports. “We went to the Marines in Brazil. The Brazilian Navy has a really good boxing team. A lot of the guys who train there are from the national boxing team. I talked to him a lot and got a little bit of his experience about the five-round fights. This is the first time I’m doing a five-round fight.

“It’s awesome to be by his side. He always has great energy. He’s always trying to push us to the top. He’s a great guy.”

Check out the full interview with Matheus Nicolau below.

Perez (24-8) deserves applause for stepping up on short notice but it’s tough to get excited seeing him in the marquee. Perez is a well-rounded fighter whose only UFC losses are to elite competition, but the reality is he headlines a card off three straight losses. Perez had a spirited losing effort to highly-touted contender Muhammad Mokaev following losses to now-current flyweight champ Alexandre Pantoja and former titleholder Deiveson Figueiredo in a title fight. Perez acknowledges the situation but won’t let this writer or anyone else hurt his morale.

“You have to have short-term memory,” Perez tells CBS Sports. “This might sound crazy but this is how I handle life in general. If I’m sick, something bad happens or the car breaks down, you can’t really sit there and dwell on it, think about it too much or cry about it. Life still goes on. You still have to pay your bills. Yeah, I’ve lost but look at my losses. I lost to Pantoja. I lost to Deiveson. I lost to Mokaev.

“I’m not really a guy to feel bad for myself. I never have been. I know a lot of guys sit there and cry about it. Everybody does their own thing the way they want to deal with it… Let’s move on to the next. Life is too short to dwell on these sad moments. There are so many good memories and moments to have.”

Check out the full interview with Alex Perez below.

There isn’t much of anything at UFC Fight Night to pique the average consumer’s interest. Dedicated fans will look forward to seeing Karine Silva extend her perfect record of 17 stoppages in 17 wins against Ariane Lipski. The dual finishing threat is on a submission binge, tapping out all four opponents under the UFC umbrella. Tim Means vs. Uros Medic is a solid main card opener. Meanwhile, Ryan Spann and Bogdan Guskov can be reasonably trusted to deliver a knockout in the co-main event.

Below is the rest of the fight card for Saturday with the latest odds before we get to a prediction and pick on the main event.

UFC Fight Night card, odds

Favorite Underdog Weight class
Matheus Nicolau -190 Alex Perez +160 Flyweight
Ryan Spann -195 Bogdan Guskov +165 Light heavyweight
Karine Silva -160 Ariane Lipske +135 Women’s flyweight
Jhonata Diniz -260 Austen Lane +215 Heavyweight
Jonathan Pierce -170 David Onama +143 Featherweight
Uros Medic -300 Tim Means +240 Welterweight

UFC Fight Night viewing information

Date: April 27 | Start time: 7 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: UFC Apex — Las Vegas
TV channel: ESPN+

Prediction

Matheus Nicolau vs. Alex Perez: Expectations are this fight will go five full rounds. That doesn’t bode well for the fighter coming in on short notice. Perez succeeds most by grinding down fighters with his tenacious pressure. He’s looking for a 25-minute war against Nicolau, but his slower pace in Round 3 against Mokaev calls into question how effective Perez will be late. The underdog averages more than two takedowns per 15 minutes but breaking through Nicolau’s 93% takedown defense will prove tricky. Perez is durable and defensively responsible but Nicolau appears to be the better striker and ground fighter. Expect Nicolau to score points on the feet and fend off most takedowns en route to a decision win. Nicolau via unanimous decision

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