UFC Predictions: UFC Fight Night: Alex Perez vs. Tatsuro Taira

Flyweight stars Alex Perez and Tatsuro Taira headline this weekend
Flyweight stars Alex Perez and Tatsuro Taira headline this weekend's UFC show [Image courtesy: UFC Europe on X]

This weekend sees the UFC head back to the Las Vegas APEX. This Fight Night show is not loaded with big names, but neither was last weekend's excellent event, meaning this one should be worth a look.

UFC Fight Night: Alex Perez vs. Tatsuro Taira features a strong flyweight headliner, and a co-main event that will see one of the hottest prospects in the promotion in action.

Will this event be remembered come the end of the month? Perhaps not, but only time will tell.

Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Fight Night: Alex Perez vs. Tatsuro Taira.

#1 UFC flyweight bout: Alex Perez vs. Tatsuro Taira

It's often rare for the UFC to headline even a Fight Night event with two male flyweights, and even rarer if neither of those fighters has that big a name.

However, that's what they've done for this weekend's event, and it's fair to say that they've put together what looks like an excellent clash. This bout pits a former title challenger against a hugely dangerous prospect, and the winner should be propelled towards contention.

Of the two, Alex Perez is probably the more known quantity. Not only did he challenge Deiveson Figueiredo for the flyweight title back in late 2020, he's also been in with the likes of current champ Alexandre Pantoja and top contender Muhammad Mokaev.

Incredibly, Perez only fought last on April 27, just seven weeks before this Saturday's event. That fight - which he took on late notice - saw him vault back into the top five by dispatching Matheus Nicolau via KO.

Quite whether he's made the right call in taking this fight on that kind of notice, however, remains to be seen.

That's because Tatsuro Taira has long been considered one of the best prospects in the world at 125 pounds. The 24-year old native of Japan sports a 15-0 record, with five of those wins coming in the octagon.

Sure, it's fair to question Taira's opposition. None of them were ranked at the time he fought them, and in fact, his most well-known victim from a name perspective is probably Yoshiro Maeda, who fought in the WEC over a decade ago.

However, the Japanese has proven himself to be remarkably talented thus far. Realistically, the only knock on his octagon run so far is probably the fact that he hasn't always been that exciting to watch.

Despite this, he has scored a number of finishes, including a strong TKO in his last bout. More to the point, his grappling has always looked incredibly smooth, particularly in his submission win over Jesus Aguilar in 2023.

Theoretically, this one should come down to whether Perez can land a fight-changing bomb on Taira before he's taken down. If the Japanese puts the former title challenger on the ground, it's highly likely that Perez will be out of his depth, as he was against Figueiredo and Mokaev.

If he can keep the fight standing, though, he's got the power to put out anyone, and judging by his clash with Nicolau, his confidence is once again brimming.

However, given that he's taking this fight on relatively late notice, and given the slick skills of Taira overall, it's hard to look past the Japanese star here. In fact, this one could prove to be a breakout performance for him.

The Pick: Taira via second round submission

#2 UFC middleweight bout: Ikram Aliskerov vs. Antonio Trocoli

Once simply recognized as probably the toughest pre-UFC opponent of Khamzat Chimaev, it's fair to say that Ikram Aliskerov now has a hype train all of his own.

The native of Dagestan has not lost since his 2019 clash with 'Borz', and exploded onto the octagon scene last year with back-to-back KO's of Phil Hawes and Warlley Alves.

It's fair to question his opposition, of course. Hawes is essentially a glass cannon, while Alves is a natural welterweight and is probably past his prime at this point.

Still, Aliskerov showed remarkably explosive striking in both bouts, and given his grappling background, it's easy to see why fans are excited by him.

Initially, the Dagestani was set to face a former top ten-ranked opponent in Andre Muniz here. However, with 'Sergipano' sidelined with a foot injury, Aliskerov now finds himself faced with Antonio Trocoli.

'Malvado' has not fought in the octagon before, and while his record of 12-3 looks solid, it's safe to say he's untested. He looked good in his appearance on Dana White's Contender Series back in 2019, winning via rear naked choke. However, a positive test for the banned substance nandrolone saw his win overturned.

Since returning from suspension, Trocoli has fought just once, beating an unheralded opponent on the Brazilian regional scene in 2021.

Essentially, this ought to be a gimme for Aliskerov. Not only has 'Malvado' not fought in the best part of three years, but he's also never faced anyone as dangerous as the Dagestani, is taking the clash on late notice, and appears to largely rely on his ground game.

Given that he isn't likely to be able to keep Aliskerov down, it's hard to imagine him not eating a nasty shot at some point, particularly when he gets tired. Therefore, this should be another highlight-reel win for the prospect, who is likely to get more hype in the process.

The Pick: Aliskerov via first round KO

#3 UFC Fight Night: The Main Card

In a featherweight bout, Timothy Cuamba takes on Lucas Almeida. With Cuamba being 0-1 in his octagon career and Almeida being 1-2, it's hard to really see either of these men as future contenders.

Of the two, though, it's fair to say Almeida has shown more. Cuamba's debut was a lackluster bout that saw him edged out via split decision. While Almeida lost his last two fights to Andre Fili and Pat Sabatini, both of those fighters have the capability of beating anyone.

More importantly, the Brazilian showed excellent striking and a killer instinct in his win over Michael Trizano. With that considered, the pick is Almeida via TKO.

In a bantamweight tilt, veteran Douglas Silva de Andrade takes on Miles Johns. De Andrade has been around years now, dating back to his debut in 2014. He's inconsistent, but he has dangerous skills in all areas and when he's on, he looks capable of finishing anyone.

Johns, on the other hand, has a somewhat underrated octagon record of 5-2 with one No Contest, and he's currently unbeaten in three. Worryingly for him, though, 'Chapo' has always looked like a grinder of sorts, despite winning a couple of fights via KO.

This one could probably go either way based on de Andrade's inconsistencies, but overall, the Brazilian should be favored, probably via a late stoppage. The pick is de Andrade via TKO.

At flyweight, Asu Almabaev faces Jose Johnson. A powerful grappler, Almabaev came under fire for his takedown-heavy win over CJ Vergara in March, but he's clearly very talented and has a fantastic record.

Johnson, on the other hand, has shown very little in his UFC career thus far. In fact, he's best remembered for falling prey to a twister at the hands of Da'Mon Blackshear in 2023.

Despite 'No Way' winning his last fight via rear naked choke, it's hard to imagine him stopping the Kazakh native's takedown here. Therefore, the pick is Almabaev via decision.

Finally, in a bantamweight bout, Brady Hiestand faces Garrett Armfield. Hiestand is best remembered for being the TUF runner-up to Ricky Turcios, but he's since won his last two bouts, most recently stopping Danaa Batgerel via TKO.

Armfield has the same octagon record as Hiestand at 2-1, and looked good in his last fight, a win over the tricky Brad Katona.

The telling thing in that fight, though, was that Armfield had trouble with Katona's takedowns. Given that Hiestand tends to do his best work on the ground, that should be music to the former TUF star's ears. Therefore, the pick is Hiestand via decision.

#4. UFC Fight Night: The Prelims

Picks in bold

UFC flyweight bout: Tagir Ulanbekov vs. Joshua Van

UFC flyweight bout: Jimmy Flick vs. Nate Maness

UFC welterweight bout: Joshua Quinlan vs. Adam Fugitt

UFC flyweight bout: Carli Judice vs. Gabriella Fernandes

UFC featherweight bout: Jeka Saragih vs. Westin Wilson

UFC strawweight bout: Josefine Lindgren Knutsson vs. Julia Polastri

UFC featherweight bout: Melquizael Costa vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke

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