Lemoore High School wrestler and MMA champ Alex Perez gets shot at UFC big time

By Ed Martin, Editor
Alex Perez shown following a match.
Alex Perez shown following a match.
Photo courtesy Alex Perez

Alex Perez may have a bright future ahead of him. The 2010 Lemoore High School graduate has parlayed an impressive career as a championship high school and college wrestler into an exclusive contract with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).

The years he spent as an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter and winning a local MMA championship didn’t hurt either.

The UFC is an American mixed martial arts organization based in Las Vegas and features the top-ranked fighters in the sport. One of the sport’s biggest draws, Conor McGregor, on Saturday, went ten rounds with the unbeaten (49-0) boxer Floyd Mayweather, losing by a technical knockout – an impressive showing none-the-less for a UFC fighter.

Perez is the first Lemoore athlete to earn a UFC contract, and he got it by fighting in the UFC’s “Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series” held Aug. 8 in Las Vegas. The weekly show highlights up and coming contenders and features five matches. Winners aren’t guaranteed contracts, so a fighter needs to impress the judges.

Perez did just that because he was the only fighter that night to earn a contract.

Lemoore High School wrestler and MMA champ Alex Perez gets shot at UFC big time

Perez took a 17-4 record into the Aug. 8 showdown, convincingly beating another contender, Kevin Grey. His decisive victory won him an exclusive UFC contract. “You know I just went out there to try to finish the guy,” said Perez. “That got me the contract. Basically, you have to fight and impress the organizers to get a contract.”

Perez, now sporting an 18-4 mark, probably won’t fight again until later this year.

Most recently, Perez was the 2014 MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) Tachi Palace 125-pound champion. Championships, whether on the wrestling mat or in the ring, come relatively easy to Perez. In high school, under the tutelage of Lemoore High School’s Marcio Botelho, a one-time wrestling champ himself, Perez was a three-time West Yosemite League champ, two-time Divisional champ and was ranked in the state’s top 12 wrestlers in his weight class.

His brothers, Silverio Esparza and Julian Perez, were also champions at Lemoore High School. Perez also wrestled at West Hills College Lemoore for Coach Kent Olson. He was a regional champion and placed sixth in the state tournament his first year, and in his sophomore year was named an All-American wrestler.

“I started wrestling in the sixth grade and from there began wrestling in middle school and then high school,” remembered Perez. “My brothers started wrestling, so we just made it a family thing.”

After watching a few of his friends train in MMA, Perez, thanks to his wrestling background, thought that maybe he could compete. “I just saw some friends training, and I wanted to try it,” he said. “I didn’t want to regret that I didn’t try.”

Ultimately the talented athlete won the Tachi Palace 125-pound title, compiling a 14-2 record. “I fought all over California.”

He said it took a lot of work to earn a spot in the UFC. “There was a lot of time and dedication – and a lot of training,” he said. He currently trains with Team Oyama and trainer Colin Oyama in Irvine, California.

He credits Oyama for boosting his confidence, particularly when he lost a pair of bouts. “I lost two fights back to back,” said Perez. “I sort of lost my confidence. “He (Oyama) gave me the confidence to come back.”

Perez certainly has a goal. “I have a small bunch of other goals. I want to win some fights, then move up the ranks, and eventually, I want to challenge for the title.”

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