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Alex Perez and Tatsuro Taira
Fight Coverage

Main Event Spotlight | UFC Fight Night: Perez vs Taira

Get A Closer Look At The Two Men On The Marquee At UFC Fight Night: Perez vs Taira in Las Vegas

The flyweight division feels like it is right on the precipice of an incredibly intriguing era as its mix of established contenders and talented up-and-comers is starting to reach a collision point. With Alexandre Pantoja continuing his title reign earlier this year, the flyweight contenders now have some time to jockey for the position of his next challenger. 

On June 15, inside the UFC APEX, former title challenger Alex Perez and undefeated prospect Tatsuro Taira lock horns with plenty on the line. Both are eager to reach title contention, and a loss on Saturday could knock either athlete down the pecking order a significant amount.

Let’s take an in-depth look at this flyweight bout.

Saturday's Full Fight Card Preview

Alex Perez

Until Dominick Reyes earned his first victory in nearly five years at UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Imavov, Alex Perez was the owner of the most-needed and most-cathartic victory of 2023. 

Alex Perez punches Matheus Nicolau of Brazil in a flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 27, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Alex Perez punches Matheus Nicolau of Brazil in a flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 27, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

The 32-year-old hit several speed bumps between his title eliminator win over Jussier Formiga in June 2020 and his next win over Matheus Nicolau in April 2024. From struggles on the scale and injuries to some plain old sour luck, Perez fought just three times from November 2020 to March 2024. After falling to Muhammad Mokaev in March 2024, he saw an opportunity when Manel Kape pulled out of his scheduled main event against Nicolau. Perez stepped in and earned a second-round knockout, looking as sharp as he ever had. 

Now, the Dana White’s Contender Series alumnus can continue building his way back against one of the most exciting prospects on the roster. If Perez is back in form, he makes for a viciously well-rounded opponent, considering his wrestling ability, as well as his evident knockout power. His finishing rate falls just over 50 percent and has a nice split of six knockouts and seven submissions. 

Tatsuro Taira

This fight against Cannonier marks Imavov’s second of the year, as well as his second main event this year. Back in February, the 29-year-old defeated Roman Dolidze by majority decision. That fight got Imavov back in the win column, after he suffered a no contest against Chris Curtis at UFC 289, which came on the heels of his loss to Strickland in his first main event a few months prior.  

Tatsuro Taira of Japan punches Edgar Chairez of Mexico in a 130-pound catchweight fight during the UFC 290 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 08, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Tatsuro Taira of Japan punches Edgar Chairez of Mexico in a 130-pound catchweight fight during the UFC 290 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 08, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

The 24-year-old Tatsuro Taira is one of the hottest prospects in the sport and is one of the best male fighters under 25 years old. If not for Mokaev, Taira would almost certainly be looked at as the outright future of the division as the roster stands right now. Since joining the roster in May 2022, Taira extended his undefeated record with five wins in the Octagon, including two submissions and a TKO. 

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The Okinawan-born budding contender has shown decent cardio, having gone the full 15 minutes twice under the UFC banner. While he has faced adversity in the Octagon, Taira has more or less had the upper hand for the majority of his UFC tenure.  

Meeting In The Middle 

Perez is, without question, Taira’s toughest test to-date in the Octagon. To go along with his pedigree as a former title challenger, Perez is also Taira’s first Top 15 opponent. That said, Taira does have the skills to get it done on June 15. Of Perez’s eight professional losses, five came via tap out, including two of his last three losses.

Full Fight | Alex Perez vs Matheus Nicolau
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Full Fight | Alex Perez vs Matheus Nicolau
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Taira is also the rangier fighter, carrying a one-inch height advantage and a much more significant, five-inch reach advantage over the veteran. If Taira can manage range, that should allow Taira to avoid the power shots coming his way. Perez’s clearest advantage is in straight punching power, as well as experience. Perez has more than double the amount of pro fights compared to Taira, and boasts a more proven strength of schedule. Both fighters like to get the bout to the ground, and each average more than two takedowns per 15 minutes. Their accuracy is also close, each man completing just over 40 percent of their shots. Perez has the better defense at 82 percent, about 10 points better than Taira.

Each fighter has tended to get things done quickly in the Octagon. Perez’s average fight time is just under seven minutes per contest, while Taira averages a shade under 10 minutes each fight. Although this is scheduled for 25 minutes, all signs lead to a quicker night in the office at the UFC APEX.
 

UFC Fight Night: Perez vs Taira took place live from UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 15, 2024. See the final Prelim and Main Card Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass