Alternating between wins and losses since signing under a Zuffa owned promotion at the end of 2008, former top 10 bantamweight Takeya Mizugaki (17-7 MMA,  4-2 UFC) has finally earned two straight victories in a row, and he is looking to build off of that momentum to find his way back to the top 10. In his way at UFC Fight Night 27, we have Erik Perez fighting out of Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico who is currently riding an eight fight win streak including three straight in the UFC – all dominant finishes ending in the first round.

Many consider this match to be a showcase match for rising star Erik Perez. Mizugaki himself even believes that the UFC has put him against Perez to measure his ability, but he has no problem stepping into the octagon to see what the Mexican fighter is all about. Ranked just outside the top 15 at bantamweight, Mizugaki is going to try and drag Perez into his type of fight – a high pace, close range slug fest. Perez will have to be ready to deal with the body shots and clinch game of his opponent who is known for his short but very effective punches, often targeting the head and body at equal volumes. While the explosiveness of Perez is a guarantee, Mizugaki just might be the right opponent to drag him into deep waters to see how he does in the face of adversity.

Perez, the UFC’s first ‘all Mexican’ fighter, just happens to be a Muay Thai specialist so fighting in the clinch is nothing new to him though Perez has a much more versatile attack that could pose problems at a range for the short-ranged boxing style of Mizugaki, who rarely utilizes kicks or strikes from the fringe. If Perez were to adopt a counter strike game plan, something that is very likely to come from Jackson’s camp , rather than explode right out of the gate he could drag Mizugaki out of his game of standing in the pocket and trading blows and into a Muay Thai fight.  Mizugaki will almost predictably move forward continuously to shrink the gap, though not recklessly, and cut Perez off to dirty box with him, and if Perez is able to avoid a close-range fight he should be able to pick apart his opponent.

Prediction: Erik Perez def. Takuyza Mizugaki via TKO in round 2.

While Mizugaki has been in the cage with high level strikers like Bowles and Torres, an NCAA Div I wrestler in Jorgensen, and one of the most well rounded fighters in Urijah Faber, he has only been finished twice in his career despite that talent filled resume. However, the well rounded striking approach of Perez is going to shine against the limited, although very tough, dirty boxer as when Mizugaki looks to stalk down Pere using angles to cut him off in attempt to close the distance, Perez will utilize proper footwork to circle away and pick Mizugaki apart. Perez will hunt for openings to explode and find a finish after battering the legs of Mizugaki who will more than likely refuse to check the low kicks as he moves forward. Once Perez opens up with his arsenal of strikes after punishing Mizugaki for coming forward and trying to push the pace, he will begin to commit to strikes much more and likely find the finish at some point late in the second round.