Maybe this time Alex Perez will get to fight after all.
Shortly after news broke that the former UFC men’s flyweight title challenger’s scheduled July 16th co-main event against Askar Askarov was nixed, a new and arguably better fight has emerged.
Following an initial report from Ag. Fight, MMA Fighting confirmed that Perez will now fight Brazil’s Alexandre Pantoja at UFC 277 in Dallas on July 30th. Current rankings have Pantoja sharing the No. 3 spot with Askarov, while Perez is No. 6.
Perez (24-6) hasn’t fought since losing his title bout on short notice to Deiveson Figueiredo back at UFC 256 in November 2020. During that span he’s had an astonishing six fight cancellations for a variety of reasons, including his own weight miss against Matt Schnell that scrapped their UFC 271 matchup. Previously it was Schnell who had a medical issue that wiped out their UFC 269 booking. His last win was a leg kick clinic and TKO of Jussier Formiga at UFC 250 in June 2020.
Pantoja (24-5) is on a two-fight winning streak, including a submission of Brandon Royval last August. Unfortunately, he seemingly lost out on a title shot against then-champion Brandon Moreno due to knee surgery, and has been out of action this whole time. The Brazilian has two wins over Moreno — one on The Ultimate Fighter and then again in the UFC — as well as a decision over Manel Kape and stoppages of Wilson Reis and Neil Seery.
UFC 277 features a women’s bantamweight championship rematch between new champion Julianna Pena and former champ Amanda Nunes, while Brandon Moreno takes on Kai Kara-France for the interim men’s flyweight belt in the co-main event. In case something happens to one of the co-main event fighters, Pantoja will serve as the backup.