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Erik Perez Says Talks About His Early Days in MMA

December 25, 2012 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas

Erik Perez recently spoke with MMAjunkie about how he got into MMA, the first two fights of his UFC career and more. Check out the highlights:

On starting out in MMA: “I finished high school, and I told my father, ‘I don’t want to go to college. I want to fight. I want to train.’ He was like, ‘No, no. You can’t.’ He wanted me to go to college, but I had some money because I had been fighting in Texas and working with my father. So I paid for my flight to Albuquerque and paid for my stay in the gym. It was very difficult because I was leaving family and friends and everything I knew, and I went to a country where I didn’t speak the language and didn’t know how everything worked. It was very, very hard. But if you want dreams to come true, you have to fight for it.”

On his early interest in martian arts: “I started in San Shou, like Cung Le. I was training in my hometown of Monterrey. I was young, but I also did a little of grappling and a little bit of boxing and Muay Thai. Muay Thai is bigger in Mexico. There are a lot of professional fighters. The rules are just like Thailand with the elbows and knees. We fought five, three-minute rounds. I had seven professional Muay Thai fights, and I was undefeated. I also had 30 fights in San Shou, and I didn’t have any losses.”

On his first pro MMA fight: “My first fight, I won by armbar, and I thought in my mind, ‘This is what I’m going to do for my whole life.’ I knew right then that this is what I like.”

On suffering back-to-back early losses: “When I started MMA, I had losses right away on my record because it’s very, very difficult. I’m a striker, but when I would start to punch guys, they would take me down. Now though, my grappling game – my wrestling and my ground game – is a lot better. I’m training with the best camp in the world.”

On his early training: “The first month was hard because I had to pay money to the gym to train, and in my pocket I only had like $150. That was it for the month. I made all my own food, and sometimes I wouldn’t eat anything because I didn’t have enough money. That’s how I started. I fought in Texas to make a little money. I fought in Albuquerque to make a little money. I was just paying my bills and training.”

On becoming friends with Donald Cerrone and Leonard Garcia: “‘Cowboy’ and Leonard said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come live with us? Come and stay with us at the house.’ The guys had been very cool with me all the time, so I said, ‘OK, I’ll go with you.’ ‘Cowboy’ and Leonard are good friends of mine now. I’ve picked up a lot of things from ‘Cowboy,’ and I’ve picked up a lot of things from Leonard. Some people say now I’m a combination of those two guys. I have heart and power like Leonard, but I have technique like ‘Cowboy.’ I love both those guys. They are my teammates and my friends.”

On getting his shot at the UFC: “I hadn’t had any fights in six months. I didn’t have any money. I was working odd jobs just to be able to pay the bills. My coach called me, ‘Hey, ‘Goyito,’ are you ready?’ I said, ‘Yeah. When do I fight?’ He said, ‘Two weeks. You’re fighting in the UFC.’ Oh, man. I was shaking the whole day. I was so happy that I was crying. This is my dream, and I knew I had to go and put on my best fight.”

On cutting weight for the fight: “My weight was 165 pounds because I hadn’t had a fight in so long. I had to cut 30 pounds in two weeks. I basically didn’t get a chance to train specifically for the fight. I was just cutting weight and getting to the fight.”

On almost being submitted in the fight: “My first UFC fight, my opponent put me in a triangle in like two minutes. I almost passed out, but in my mind, I was like, ‘I don’t want to tap.’ I didn’t want to start bad in the UFC. I want to be a champion. I wanted to win that fight, so my mind was strong, and I started punching my opponent. He finally let me go, and eventually I won the fight.”

On his opponent losing without actively having tapped out: “I felt good because I won the fight. When I had the armbar, I heard my opponent scream. The referee stopped the fight. I can’t fight with the referee, but it was a good armbar. If [Albert] thinks it’s controversial, we can always fight again. That’s no problem. We can do it again and have no more controversy.”

On his second UFC fight, against Ken Stone: “My second fight was also on short notice, about three-and-half weeks. I fought with Ken Stone. He’s a tough guy, but I knocked him out in 17 seconds. I couldn’t believe it. Now it’s my third fight in the UFC. I’ll probably get a new contract if I win the fight. I can’t believe what’s happening.”

On his family accepting his career path: “My mom will always love me, and she hugs me and tells me to chase my dream. My father is a strong guy, and he wanted me to go to college, but now he understands. They’re both very happy for me because they see how happy I am chasing my dream. They know I’m living my dream, and they’re very happy for me.”

On his title aspirations: “I feel like I need more experience in the UFC. I have only two fights in the UFC. I can’t tell them, “Hey, I want the title.’ I’m too young for that. I need a little experience in the octagon. I want more fights. Maybe three more fights, four more fights, and then why not? For now, I’m just staying relaxed and taking the fights. My coaches and my teammates can tell me when I’m ready.”

On his heritage: “I’m the first 100 percent Mexican in the UFC. I want to represent the country, and I want to represent all of Latin America and all of the Spanish-speaking guys. I feel like I’m carrying a lot of weight on my back every time I go to the octagon, and I need to show what I’m doing as a Mexican. If fans haven’t seen me yet, they can expect to see me fight with a lot of heart, a lot of blood, a lot of punching. I’m fighting for the fans, because they’re paying for the tickets, and I need to put on a good show.”


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Jeremy Thomas
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