Alex Perez (R) (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

UFC Fight Night: Perez vs. Taira Preview and Predictions

With the official start of summer just a week away the UFC heads home to hot and sunny Las Vegas for a fight card that features many of the lighter weight classes. Headlining the card is a showdown of ranked flyweights as Alex Perez meets Tatsuro Taira. After a three fight losing streak, Perez got back to the win column with an emphatic stoppage of Matheus Nicolau. He looks to make it back-to-back wins by derailing undefeated Taira. Coming into this matchup, his sixth in the UFC, Taira has thus far notched two decision wins, two submissions, and a knockout. A victory over Perez would be a huge feather in the Japanese contender’s cap.

The co-main event was originally slated to take place at light heavyweight but the domino effect of Khamzat Chimaev’s hospitalization resulted in the original fight being scrapped and Miles Johns vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade being moved into the penultimate position on the fight card.

UFC Fight Night: Perez vs. Taira airs live in its entirety on ESPN+ and ESPN2 starting at 7 p.m. ET. Combat Press writers Dan Kuhl and Matt Petela preview the action in this week’s edition of Toe-to-Toe.


Alex Perez snapped a three-fight losing streak in his last bout; can he make it back-to-back wins and remove Tatsuro Taira from the ranks of the undefeated?

Kuhl: I’m going to put it out there, and it’s probably not a popular opinion, but Tatsuro Taira finishes Alex Perez before the end of the second round. Perez might have gotten back in the win column in his last fight, which was a dominant win he badly needed, but Taira is a different specimen.

The 24-year-old Japanese fighter is no joke. And, he’s just getting started. There is no denying that Perez is one of the best UFC flyweights in history, but his one win in his last fight, while as amazing as it was, did not put out any statement. Perez should look that good in all of his fights. Taira does not have that problem.

Taira is the proverbial wood chipper of the 125-pound division, and the UFC picked him up for a reason. Expect him to come out, pressing the action on the feet for as long as he needs to, before taking Perez to the mat, and putting this one to rest. Taira by second-round submission.

Petela: Tatsuro Taira has not fought anyone of Alex Perez’s caliber inside the UFC. His 15-0 record is nothing to sneeze at but this is a big jump up in level of competition. Perez needed a win in the worst way the last time he fought, and he brought on a stellar performance against Matheus Nicolau.

Dick Vitale used to say “Uncle Mo is changing addresses” meaning that there is a big momentum shift in a college basketball game. Well, this fight will see a major momentum shift in that Perez will take away the zero from the loss column of Taira, score a big knockout, and find himself riding the wave back to the top of the flyweight division all while forcing Taira back to the drawing board and trying to climb back up the ladder after learning from this main event experience.

Miles Johns and Douglas Silva de Andrade find themselves in the co-main event; which man is able to capitalize on the high profile position?

Petela: This fight should be fun, but in no way does it merit a co-main event slot. Miles Johns is much closer to his fighting prime at 30 years old than his opponent Douglas Silva de Andrade, who is eight years older. Experience can certainly play a role, but it isn’t like Johns isn’t a veteran in his own right. He is just much younger and will be the sharper fighter. I see this fight going the distance and both men having moments, but, when the final bell sounds, it will be clear that Miles Johns outworks Andrade throughout. Johns should get his hand raised.

Kuhl: I think I’ll go the other way in this one. This is a really equally matched bout, and Johns is a tough dude, but Andrade has a lot more finishes in his long career, and I think he will score the TKO before the end of Round 2.

What one fighter’s UFC career is on the ropes at this event?

Kuhl: Adam Fugitt is 1-2 in the promotion. And, while his one win was a finish, so we’re both of his losses. He has a tough draw against Josh Quinlan, but Quinlan is also 1-2 in the promotion. A loss for Fugitt could put him back in LFA before the end of the year.

Petela: If Westin Wilson loses this weekend it will make him 0-3 inside the UFC. That never makes a strong case for keeping your spot on the roster. He has a winnable fight against Jeka Saragih but it is also a very losable fight. If Saragih scores a win and Wilson remains winless with the promotion this could see him on the outside looking in at the biggest stage in MMA.

Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?

Petela: This show is short on name recognition to say the very least so every fight could exceed expectations and fans could still end up with a mediocre event. The one fight that I am most excited to see play out is Shayilan Nuerdanbieke vs. Melquizael Costa. Neither of these two has a UFC title in his future but they can both get the job done anywhere the fight goes. This is Nuerdanbieke’s 51st professional fight, which is remarkable considering he is only 30 years old. This one is definitely worth tuning in to watch early.

Kuhl: Welterweights Adam Fugitt and Josh Quinlan are going to war. Two talented fighters, who are going to absolutely need a win to avoid the pink slip. Both have losing records in the UFC, but both finish fights. This will be a great contest.

Who takes home the “Performance of the Night” honors?

Kuhl: I feel like Jimmy Flick could have another quick submission on the docket. He’s facing Nate Maness, who very well could knock the shit out of him, but I see Maness coming in hot, doing some damage, but getting caught by the lanky Flick. Flick will get the sub and the extra dough.

Petela: Brady Hiestand. He has had two fights canceled since his last bout and he is going to come out looking to have a dynamic performance. He has won two straight and scored his first promotional finish the last time he fought. He makes it two straight stoppage victories and puts Garrett Armfield to sleep in the first round of a frenetic fight.

Pair this card with…

Petela: With a flyweight main event, it has me looking at myself in the mirror and realizing I should lose weight. So, while it might be bland, I’ll say put together a tray of vegetables and some grilled chicken to ensure you don’t over indulge on junk throughout the show.

Kuhl: Large Americano. It’s a later Apex card, it might not be super exciting, and it’s always good to give it a rest the night before Father’s Day. Enjoy some coffee and get the smoked meats rolling for Sunfay.

Fight Kuhl’s Pick Petela’s Pick
Main Card (ESPN+/ESPN2, 10 p.m. ET)
FlyW: Alex Perez vs. Tatsuro Taira Taira Perez
BW: Miles Johns vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade Andrade Johns
FW: Lucas Almeida vs. Timmy Cuamba Cuamba Almeida
BW: Garrett Armfield vs. Brady Hiestand Armfield Hiestand
FlyW: Asu Almabaev vs. Jose Johnson Almabaev Almabaev
WW: Adam Fugitt vs. Josh Quinlan Quinlan Fugitt
Preliminary Card (ESPN+/ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET)
FlyW: Tagir Ulanbekov vs. Joshua Van Ulanbekov Ulanbekov
FlyW: Nate Maness vs. Jimmy Flick Flick Flick
Women’s FlyW: Carly Judice vs. Gabriella Fernandes Fernandes Judice
FW: Jeka Saragih vs. Westin Wilson Saragih Saragih
FW: Shayilan Nuerdanbieke vs. Melquizael Costa Nuerdanbieke Nuerdanbieke
Women’s StrawW: Julia Polastri vs. Josefine Knutsson Knutsson Knutsson