UFC Vegas 91: Matheus Nicolau vs. Alex Perez preview and prediction

Matheus Nicolau and Alex Perez headline UFC Vegas 91 on Saturday. Here's how we think the main event will play out.
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

UFC Vegas 91 goes down on Saturday, April 27 with the event headlined by a pair of top 10 flyweight contenders. No. 5 ranked flyweight Matheus Nicolau will be taking on No. 8 ranked Alex Perez in a five-round main event that should be fast-paced and exciting for fight fans tuning in. With just one week before the flyweight championship is contested at UFC 301, both Nicolau and Perez will be looking to deliver a memorable performance to stake their claim as the next title challenger at 125 pounds.

Nicolau and Perez are both veterans of the Octagon with a combined 20 appearances under the UFC banner. Nicolau is certainly the fighter coming into the contest with more momentum as he has won six of his last seven contests. Although he was unsuccessful in his most recent appearance inside the Octagon against Brandon Royval, Nicolau still has all the potential to become a title contender in the near future. His victories against other top 15 contenders such as Tim Elliott, Manel Kape, David Dvorak, and Matt Schnell have proven that he is among the best in the world at flyweight.

Perez on the other side may be the more familiar competitor with his high profile matchup against former champion Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 255 for the UFC flyweight championship highlighting his career peak to this point in time. The former title challenger is coming into this contest against Nicolau on a three fight losing streak. However, his losses are against the former champion Figueiredo, the current flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja, and rising star Muhammad Mokaev. While not victorious in either of these three contests, a win against Nicolau would immediately set Perez back on the track to the top of the division.

As a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Nicolau would seemingly be looking to take the fight to the ground and work towards a submission. This combined with the fact that of Perez's eight career losses, five have come by submission including two of his last three defeats. However, Nicolau has not submitted an opponent since May 2019 and has one of the lower submission attempts per 15 minutes in the division with only 0.51 according to the official UFC record book.

Nicolau's last win inside the Octagon came via knockout and will likely look to keep the fight standing unless he is forced to use his grappling. Against Schnell, he was able to use his patience to set up several openings where he would knock down and eventually finish his opponent.

Matheus Nicolau vs. Alex Perez prediction

With both competitors fighting primarily out of an orthodox position, Perez will likely be able to utilize his leg kicks, which are among the best in the division. He was even able to use these kicks to defeat former top five flyweight Jussier Formiga inside the first round at UFC 250. Perez has a fantastic kicking game overall and will likely need to lean heavily on this in order to come out victorious. While Perez maintains a strong guard, he still leaves plenty of opportunity for his opponents to land significant punches, kicks, and various other strikes.

Perez's lack of a height and/or reach advantage which caused Nicolau problems against Royval will play a factor in this fight as Nicolau is able to earn a third round TKO victory against Perez. Nicolau will have no reason to overextend or go away from his technique and will work his way towards one of the most important victories of his career.

The UFC flyweight division has found some form of clarity in recent times with the Brandon Moreno vs. Figueiredo rivalry seemingly in the rearview mirror and new champion Pantoja looking to stay active. With No. 10 ranked Steve Erceg challenging for the flyweight title at UFC 301, a win for either Nicolau or Perez could easily earn themselves a spot challenging for the UFC flyweight championship before the end of the year.


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