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UFC Pittsburgh: Rockhold vs. Branch - Mike Perry vs. Alex Reyes Toe to Toe Preview

Phil and David break down everything you need to know about Perry vs. Reyes for UFC Pittsburgh and everything you don’t about human TapOut shirts.

UFC 202: Lim v Perry Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Mike Perry vs. Alex Reyes co-headlines UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Branch on September 16, 2017 at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

One sentence summary

Phil: WHEN THIAGO ALVES GOT INJURED YOU THOUGHT WE WOULDN'T GET A MIKE PERRY BOUT BUT LUCKILY SOMEONE STEPPED UP BOI AAAAGGGGH.

David: It’s the Mike Perry show, starring the KOTC.

Stats

Record: Mike Perry 10-1 | Alex Reyes 13-2

Odds: Mike Perry -450 | Alex Reyes +400

History / Introduction to both fighters

Phil: As MMA marches on, we occasionally see evolved versions of new fighters coming to the surface. Tyron Woodley is like an upgraded Rashad. Wonderboy Thompson is like an (occasionally) higher-paced Machida.

Mike Perry is an upgraded Phil Baroni; a TapOut shirt made flesh, and it's always interesting to see whether people find him compelling or repellent. In general, I'm just about on the "compelling" side (although his friend Alex Nicholson is another matter). Perry is incredibly unreconstructed (some would say "dumb") and while it's a bit disconcerting to see that linked up to the sheer potential for violence that he possesses, I guess the UFC is as good a place for him as anywhere. Hell, it's the only place for him. He has a face tattoo and a roaring tiger on the hand that he uses to punch people!

David: I tend to believe in the True Detective-Ligotti-plagiarized philosophy of MMA pessimism. As such, I don’t see active evolution when I think of Perry (how can you?). It’s more like an illusory punctuated equilibrium. The UFC’s learning curve is a plateau of fists, knees, chokes, Face the Pain, and Dana’s Boysenberry head. Fighters reach beyond this plateau once every eclipse. But the gifted only exist long enough to inevitably find themselves guilty of being part of MMA’s flatland of disruptive frustration. Mike Perry isn’t an upgrade. He’s an atavism with a Reebok kit.

Phil: Alex Reyes is a bit of a mystery. He stepped in at the last minute, and while you might think that a guy like that would be a young prospect trying to get his foot in the door, he's in his tenth year of his MMA career. He seems to be something of an MMA renaissance man, who's had a slow but successful career.

David: Since we’re talking about MMA’s evolution, what better symbol to oppose Mike Perry than a late replacement forging a career in Shannon Ritch’s stomping grounds against fighters with 11-26 records? Unlike Perry, Reyes seems like a nice guy though. It’s hard to predict what the 30 year KOTC champion can do in the UFC, so let’s enjoy whatever flat circle ride the sport has in store for us (?).

What’s at stake?

Phil: Welterweight is pretty wide open at the moment at the top, but there's a slight backlog at the upper middle (where your Ponzes and suchlike hang out). Perry likely gets a shot at one of them with a win.

David: Perry is basically welterweight Jeremy Stephens. Which means Dana will give him every opportunity to be put in a position to succeed, and then parlay that position into something grander for exploitation if provided- call this the Chael Sonnen effect (who got a shot at Jon Jones for no reason other than he’s Chael Sonnen, and Dana loves theatrical bigotry).

Where do they want it?

Phil: Perry is something of a flat-footed brawler, but one with a great intuitive grasp of how to intersect an opponents movement with punches. For a look at how he could evolve over time, I think the best analogue would be Jeremy Stephens' win over Gilbert Melendez this past weekend. Perry is one of those fighters who is constantly trying to figure out which way his opponent is trying to move so he can put his fist through that space.

At the moment, trying to force people into that space is his primary issue. He generally tries to close behind an awkward front or round kick, although this can open him up to counters or takedowns. He's not technically polished, but a massive level of toughness and great instincts can likely cover for him while the polish come in.

David: Perry has a working motor for pressure more than precision, and it gets him by. With a flickery jab, he sets the tone with a sense of distance and uses his fists for a general blast radius. It’s punch carpet bombing, and the collateral damage is his brain cells. He’s obviously a good mechanical puncher, and for all of his macho bravado, his instincts are on point. I think Perry’s issue is that eating punches actively helps him establish his range. Knuckles embedded in his flesh are like Pinhead’s hooks, transporting him to the dimension he’s comfortable with that no other human wants to confront. Because he doesn’t appreciate the effort required in angling for strikes, or avoiding them, the best thing to do is jump head first into MMA’s thresher.

Phil: Reyes has been very difficult to find tape on. What there has been has been a bit concerning: normally when someone comes up from a lighter weight class, their big advantage should be speed, but what little there is from Reyes doesn't appear to show someone who is particularly fast. He does, however, appear to be quite technical with his wrestling and grappling (which makes sense, seeing as he's an instructor at his academy and goes to grappling tournaments).

His record is also good, if sporadic. He beat Joshua Aveles, who hasn't lost since and just beat Leandro Silva in ACB. In general it paints a picture of a good fighter who developed at his own pace, who has a deep well of skill to draw on. That's not necessarily the lock I expected against a still-incomplete fighter like Perry.

David: Speaking of finding tape, is Alex Reyes also Dominick Reyes? Just curious. It’s fitting that his highlights play an assortment of classics, like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park. From what can be gleaned within Youtube’s swirl of footage, Reyes is your classic catch all mixed martial artist. He has good, deep punches, digging to the body in close quarters to complement his arsenal of strikes from distance. He’s not an overt athlete, but like a lot of successful regional fighters, there’s an attention to detail that makes the difference at the lower levels that only needs opportunity to transform into a could-be UFC career.

Insight from past fights

Phil: Perry did a good job of staving off what sporadic takedowns Ellenberger tried in their bout. That's probably a good sign for this fight. Mostly I'm just bringing it back to talk about that bit where Perry breakdanced and the camera panned up to show Ellenberger's corpse. Perhaps the finest black comedy camerawork I've seen in MMA.

David: What kind of weigh-in classlessness will Perry come up with next? Alex’ last name is Reyes, so maybe Perry can eat a bowl of street corn in front of him.

X-Factors

Phil: Mike Perry isn't going to know what's coming on short notice, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say he doesn't gameplan much anyway.

David: Just the usual.

Prognostication

Phil: A lightweight grappler should get blown out in this situation. However, there are a few indicators in Reyes' record that indicate he might be a bit more than that. I can't justifiably pick him to Brenneman his way to a win based on that, though. Mike Perry by TKO, round 2.

David: I wish Reyes had a better chance, but the sad truth is that he doesn’t (if minimal footage, and terribly cut two minute highlight packages are any indication). Mike Perry by TKO, round 1.