UFC 271: Alex Perez vs Matt Schnell - Prediction - 02/12/22
Alex Perez vs Matt Schnell
Man, I shouldn’t even write a word about this fight as it’s clearly jinxed. It’s been scheduled and cancelled three times now for different reasons in one year. I almost think it’s a prank when I see it pop up on Tapology from time to time. Even though 4th time’s a charm isn’t the expression, let's roll with it and see what happens. Will have to dig into my notes from the previous scheduled bouts but I think I’ll save this fight until the end for researching just in case.
Alex Perez (24-6) locked up an anaconda choke on DWCS back in 2017 to punch his UFC ticket. The Californian would then win 6 of his next 7 UFC fights with 4 of those coming inside the distance. He bounced around between bantamweight and flyweight during that stretch as well. This makes sense since he’s been known to have troubles on the scale from time to time. His one defeat in that stretch came from Joseph Benavidez who won by TKO. That successful run would gain Perez a crack at the flyweight title. However, it would not be meant to be as Deiveson Figueiredo would submit Perez via guillotine choke half way through the first. He has then sat on the shelf trying to fight Matt Schnell for all of 2021.
Matt Schnell (15-6) got his shot at a UFC contract by going The Ultimate Fighter route back in 2016. That season involved the entire cast being flyweights with the winner getting a shot at the title (that’s how bad Demetrious Johnson needed competition back then). Schnell would get ousted from the show by losing to Tim Elliot (the eventual winner of the show). He switched to bantamweight to take on Rob Font during the finale card but that didn’t go as planned as “Danger” was killed with a knee and follow-up barrage in the first round. He still managed to stay in the UFC and returned to flyweight but got knocked out by Hector Sandoval a few months later. He managed to get things rolling after that, winning 5 of his next 6 fights, the one defeat coming via KO by Alexandre Pantoja. Despite his opponent sitting out all of 2021, Schnell actually managed to get two fights in, a split decision win against Tyson Nam, and a unanimous decision loss to Rogerio Bontorin which would later get overturned to a no contest (Bontorin tested for a diuretic).
Schnell will stand 2 inches taller and hold a 5 inch reach advantage over Perez.
How They Match Up
Matt Schnell has some fast hands and solid feints. It was on full display against Bontorin last time out. His low guard and tendency to get wobbled in frantic exchanges was also on full display however. He also got caught quite a few times from Bontorin leaping in first. This surprised me because he was pretty solid in the Nam fight at making his opponent miss going high. If he gets taken down, he’s also a bit complacent in defending ground and pound but is still a very real submission threat off his back. And as mentioned, he has a solid reach for the division as well.
Some of those pitfalls will be worrisome going against Perez who has a high guard, fantastic leg kicks, and equally fast hands. One of Perez’s main drawbacks however lies in his submission defense, which is a bit puzzling because offensively he’s very solid. He just seems complacent in defending submission attempts, and then once locked in he taps readily. Schnell has proven to be a capable submission artist as well so if this hits the mat, I like his chances.
Both guys seem to prefer to keep it standing however so I don’t see this coming into play with any real probability. And on the feet, I like Perez to get the better of the frantic exchanges, exploiting Schnell’s lowered hands and high chin. Perez doesn’t seem like he’s going to be fooled by the feints and singular shots at range from Schnell either.
Long layoffs seem to not be playing a huge factor these days either so I don’t expect Perez to be rusty after the 15 month layoff. If you are looking to take the dog, keep an eye on weigh-ins, Schnell is going to have a solid size advantage as he’s fought at bantamweight regularly. But if he looks like garbage or has some scale problems then I think his size advantage won’t be a big factor as his chin will be even more suspect while dehydrated and compromised. Perez’s 61% accuracy should be enough to find it with regularity.