UFC Fight Night 98 Breakdown: Felipe Arantes vs Erik Perez

erik-perezPrior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look ahead at the preliminary headliner at UFC Fight Night 98 as Erik Perez welcomes Felipe Arantes to Mexico City in a bantamweight bout.   Felipe Arantes (Record: 18-7, +160 Underdog, Power Ranking: C) Training alongside Charles Oliveira at Macaco Gold Team, the Brazilian has steadily built a nice career for himself in the UFC. He’s won three of his last four bouts and is riding a two-fight winning streak. This is Arantes’ first time fighting in Mexico and more importantly his first time fighting at elevation. Arantes is a dangerous all-around fighter. For him, it all starts with his martial arts background. He holds a black belt in muay Thai and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Arantes is a threat both on the feet and on the ground with 13 of his 18 career wins by stoppage. On the feet, he’s an aggressive striker. He’s certainly not volume heavy (2.46 significant strikes per minute), but he likes to step in to close distance to really attack when he sees a tentative opponent. His takedown defense is poor at best defending just 42% of takedowns attempted on him. Opponents have the opportunity to control him on the ground, however Arantes is dangerous off his back. He uses his legs well to set up submission attempts. In particular, he’s won his last two bouts in the UFC by finding armbars on his opponents off his back.   Erik Perez (Record: 16-6, -185 Favorite, Power Ranking: C+) “El Goyito” has become a fan favorite in Mexico due to him wearing a lucha libre mask on his walk out to the cage. He holds a 6-2 record in the UFC including victories in his last two fights. He earned the biggest win of his career in July when he beat long time veteran Francisco Rivera by decision. Erik Perez has a well-rounded fighter, but it has been his grappling that has been the difference maker for him to give him six wins in the UFC. Perez didn’t score a takedown in any of his first three bouts in the UFC. That likely had to do with facing inferior competition that he was able to finish in the first round of each of those fights. As he’s faced better opposition, he’s really developed a solid wrestling game. Training alongside the best bantamweight in the world, Dominick Cruz, certainly has its perks and wrestling technique is one of them. Perez averages 3.19 takedowns per 15 minutes in the Octagon; that’s over one per round. Furthermore, he’s successfully securing 55% of his attempts. Not only is he attempting a lot of takedowns, but he’s succeeding in getting his opponent to the mat too. Goyito lands at a nice clip on the feet with 3.31 significant strikes per minute. Like his teammate Cruz, Perez uses a lot of movement and feints to avoid being hit and to find openings. He combines that with a solid chin. Perez has never been knocked out in his MMA career.   Match-up This is a solid bantamweight matchup between two fighters both riding winning streaks into the bout. Arantes is more of an up and down fighter, while Perez is the more consistent. Can Arantes latch on an armbar attempt and submit El Goyito? It’s possible, but if he doesn’t do that he’s in big trouble in this bout. Perez is much more consistent on the feet with higher striking volume. Furthermore his feints and movement will frustrate his Brazilian opponent.  Arantes will be forced to take more risks in the standing exchanges, which will get him off balance making it easier for Perez to find openings and secure takedowns. I fully expect Pere to have significant time in top control in this bout. As long as Perez doesn’t get aggressive on the mat, he can win here easily by a decision. He needs to limit Arantes legs while in top position to prevent submission attempts. If Arantes is given freedom on the mat, Perez will have to defend the armbar and triangle attempts. That’s certainly where Arantes will be most dangerous in this bout. Otherwise, I believe this is smooth sailing for the Mexican born El Goyito. He’s the more consistent, higher striking output, and better wrestler. If the price drop to below -160, Perez is worth a bet in this bout.

Written by Jay Primetown

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