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UFC Raleigh: Alex Perez won’t test free agency, says Bellator fighters get less ‘respect’

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There are more options than ever for mixed martial artists, but Alex Perez has no interest in venturing beyond the UFC.

There are more financially viable options than ever before for mixed martial artists, but Alex Perez says there is nowhere he would rather be than UFC.

Perez was supposed to fight Sergio Pettis at UFC Mexico City in 2019. Perez was forced out of the fight with an injury; meanwhile, Pettis was re-booked vs. Tyson Nam — a fight he won before jumping ship to Bellator. Perez has no interest in following Pettis’ lead.

“For me, my goal has always been to compete in the UFC. I’m happy that I’m here. I’m happy to be part of the UFC and I’m hoping to stay here for a longtime. I never wanted to go — no disrespect to any other organizations, when you get into the sport, UFC is the mainstream,” Perez told Bloody Elbow. “The 170-pound division in Bellator is on fire, those guys are monster, but people don’t respect them as much because they’re not in the UFC. I feel the UFC is the pinnacle and that’s where I’m hoping to stay for many years.”

Perez’s only UFC loss comes at the hands of Joseph Benavidez, who will meet Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC Norfolk for the flyweight title. The match-up comes as a sigh of relief for fans and fighters fearing the demise of the 125 division.

“I was just hoping they would give me an opportunity to bump up to 135,” Perez said, reflecting of the division’s once uncertain future. “It sucks that people got cut, but I wanted to compete in the UFC. That has been my goal forever. Once I got there, for them to [possibly] cut my division — which I can bump up to 135. I fought outside the UFC a lot at 135 and 125. I’m not the biggest 135er but not the smallest either. I was okay if they cut the division, as long as they gave me a shot at bantamweight.”

Perez (22-5-0) fights fellow ranked flyweight Jordan Espinosa (14-6) at UFC Raleigh. The event is headlined by Curtis Blaydes vs. Junior Dos Santos and also features Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Michael Chiesa.