Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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

Alex Perez and Tatsuro Taira have a lot on the line at UFC Fight Night if the recent booking of the men’s flyweight division is anything to go off of. Steve Erceg was granted a title shot despite being ranked No. 10 in the UFC’s official flyweight rankings, suggesting the division is wide open for new contenders.

Perez (25-8) turned the corner on a career in jeopardy. Perez was on a 0-3 skid when filling in on short notice against Matheus Nicolau at UFC Fight Night on April 27. Perez was coming off losses to quality opponents like Alexandre Pantoja and Deiveson Figueiredo but was still an underdog against Nicolau. A Round 2 knockout revived his UFC career and earned him a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus. Perez, now ranked No. 5 in the division, looks to secure a second UFC title shot and avenge his 2022 loss to champion Pantoja.

“People ask me, ‘Why did you take this fight? You could’ve got a top-five guy?’ I’m just here to fight,” Perez told reporters at Thursday’s media day. “If I keep winning, the title shot will be here. This guy’s a top prospect. He has a lot of hype behind him. I can take his hype when I beat him this weekend.

“He’s very good. If you’ve seen his fights, he’s been able to drop people, been able to submit people, been able to go to decision. I’m excited for the challenge. I want to be the guy that solves that puzzle.”

Taira (15-0) is one of the most interesting rising contenders. The Japanese fighter is a perfect 15-0 with a proven ability to win by any means. His 5-0 UFC tenure includes knockout, submission and decision wins. Taira gets a huge escalation in challenge against a top-five opponent in his first UFC main event. Japan has never crowned a UFC champion despite the country’s rich MMA history. Taira could be close to being the nation’s first champion with a win on Saturday.

“I want to show my technique, skills, everything I have – I always look to do all of it,” Taira said through an interpreter at media day. “Alex Perez is well-rounded. He has everything. I can beat him in all aspects. That’s my preparation for this training.

“My target is Pantoja. Recently he fought five rounds [against Erceg], so I’m going to beat him up in the third round.”

This week’s UFC Fight Night is completely devoid of star power. Ikram Aliskerov vs. Andre Muniz was the big selling point for hardcore fans but that fight was entirely dismantled. Muniz got injured and Aliskerov was later pulled from the card to replace Khamzat Chimaev against Robert Whittaker in the main event of UFC Fight Night on June 22.

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
Tatsuro Taira -195 Alex Perez +165 Flyweight
Miles Johns -135 Douglas Silva de Andrade +115 Bantamweight
Timmy Cuamba -205 Lucas Almeida +170 Featherweight
Garrett Armfield -180 Brady Hiestand +150 Bantamweight
Asu Almabayev -550 Jose Johnson +400 Flyweight
Josh Quinlan -120 Adam Fugitt +100 Welterweight

UFC Fight Night viewing information

Date: June 15 | Start time: 10 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: UFC Apex — Las Vegas
TV channel: ESPN+

Prediction

Alex Perez vs. Tatsuro Taira: I made the mistake of picking against Perez last time. I’m prepared to make the same mistake again. Taira faces a meaningful step up in competition but I think he’s up to the challenge. Taira is a well-rounded fighter with wicked striking accuracy and a savvy submission game. Perez has some of the best takedown defense among active flyweights but Taira’s use of trips and sweeps should get him down often enough. Taira operates smoothly on the ground and Perez’s biggest weakness is his submission defense. Perez is arguably the better striker but Taira is improving rapidly in that department. The fight will most likely be dictated by wrestling. Perez should offer significant resistance on that front but Taira only needs a few openings across 25 minutes to capitalize on. Taira via SUB2

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