Following his first-round submission win over Jordan Espinosa at UFC on ESPN+ 24 in January, flyweight Alex Perez was eager to continue his momentum when the novel coronavirus struck, placing his plans for an immediate return on hold.
Initially Perez hoped that a proposed bout with Kai Kara-France would be able to happen in May, but as the world went into coronavirus lockdown, it became clear to him that things weren’t going to proceed as planned.
“At first I didn’t know crazy it was going to get, how bad it was going to be,” Perez told MMAWeekly.com. “At first I thought it was just a virus, but once fights started getting pushed back I knew it was big.
“I didn’t know when I was going to fight again, but it’s no one’s fault. I didn’t get hurt. My opponent didn’t get hurt. The UFC didn’t do this on purpose. It kind of sucked, but I knew the UFC was going to be the first to open up, so my main focus was staying in some kind of shape and stay active.”
Though there were a lot of unknowns when it came to when he’d be able to return or who he would face when he was able to fight again, for Perez, his career previously was filled with somewhat similar circumstances.
“A lot of my fights have been on short notice, so my mindset is always to stay in shape to fight,” said Perez. “I kind of went on with my life to the best of my ability.
“Obviously the gym was closed, and training partners were hard to find, but I just kind of stayed in shape like I was going to fight no matter what, like everything was normal.”
On Saturday, Perez (23-5) will return to action against Jussier Forminga (23-7) in a UFC 250 preliminary flyweight bout at the Apex in Las Vegas.
“I was able to carry over a lot of stuff, but he is a little bit different fighter (than Kara-France would have been),” Perez said. “Forminga is a grappler. My stand-up kind of stays intact, and we just get in more ground, a lot more wrestling.
“I’ve just got to stay patient and not make any critical mistakes. Don’t rush and try to kill a guy with every punch. Be smart and make sure I set everything up. Forminga is a very well-rounded guy. He’s good on his feet, good on the mat, good on the wrestling department, so just being smart and staying composed (is the key for me).”
Never one to shy away from a fight, no matter the circumstances of the world around him, should Perez come out of his fight with Forminga healthy he’ll be looking to get back in the Octagon as soon as possible.
“I’m always ready to fight,” said Perez. “I don’t get paid by sitting on the couch. When I was on the regional scene, I think I fought seven times in nine months. I like to stay active. I like to train. I like to get better. I like to get paid and make money, so I’m always ready to fight.”