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UFC: Erik Perez Says His Eight Months Off Have Made Him a Better Fighter

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Erik Perez is one of the UFC’s brightest bantamweight prospects, slapping together eight straight wins in the past two years. He made his UFC debut in 2012 at The Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale, quickly establishing himself in the division with three first round victories in a row.

Unfortunately, his career hit a major speed bump when he was forced to drop out of a UFC 159 match up against Johny Bedford due to a staph infection. He’s been out of commission for almost eight months now, but “Goyito” is looking to bounce back in a big way.

He’ll be facing Takeya Mizugaki on tonight at UFC Fight Night 27, and a victory here could put him in range of a top ten appearance. He’s not worried though, in fact, he feels the time off has actually made him a better fighter.

“I feel really, really happy because I’m going to fight,” Perez said to MMAjunkie.com. “But going eight months without a fight, it made me better. I’ve been training a lot – particularly things I’m not used to doing. I’ve been working to be better in this eight months, so I’ll come back stronger and better.”

Mizugaki will undoubtedly be the biggest fight of Perez’s career so far though, and he’s not taking it lightly.

“Mizugaki is no joke, so I’ve been training hard for this fight,” Perez said. “If you want to be the best in the world, you need to fight the best in the world. Mizugaki is the best fighter [for me right now]. He has a good name and has fought all the top guys in the division. So it’s a good chance to fight him and win. To fight for the title, I need to get into the Top 10.”

Neither Mizugaki nor Perez is currently ranked in the UFC’s bantamweight top ten, but a win for either of them here would certainly get them a lot closer. Perez is aware of this, and reiterated that making it into the top ten is his main goal right now.

“I want to be in the Top 10 because I want to fight the best guys in my division,” he said. “Right now, the guys in the Top 10 are tough fighters. I need to train more and prepare myself – I need to get better because I want to fight one of these guys.”

Erik Perez vs Takeya Mizugaki will take place during the prelims of UFC Fight Night 27, which will air live on FOX Sports 2.