Having announced that he’s coming out of retirement back in June, Frankie Perez is finally set to return on December 9th in Albany. He will take on the undefeated young prospect, Marc Diakiese in a contest that pits two talented lightweights.
Perez, who announced his comeback on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour show, was held up by USADA’s drug testing rules as he had to be in their system for 4 months. 3 weeks after, he got the call and is thrilled to be fighting close to home.
“They called me with this fight in Albany and I jumped on it, I didn’t care who it was,” Perez said. “It’s definitely going to be cool, first ever fight in Albany and I’ll definitely remember that for the rest of my life. It would have been sweeter to get Madison Square Garden but I’m super pumped, it’s only 3 hours from where I live. I’ll come out with the W right in my back yard, drive home and celebrate that same night.”
He will be taking on the UK’s Marc Diakiese who scored a 2nd round TKO win in his UFC debut earlier this month in Manchester. When asked about Diakiese’s debut, Perez wasn’t impressed and feels he will overwhelm him throughout.
“I don’t know too much about the kid, I hear he has a lot of hype coming from the UK but the States is a little different story,” Perez said. “When I looked at his record to date I think I’m the biggest name he’s going to be facing and the biggest threat for him everywhere, hands, speed, I mix everything up really well. I don’t think he’s fought anyone on my level at all so I think it should be an interesting fight and a good first fight back. I think it’s going to be one to watch December 9th.”
Having earlier vouched for a Sage Northcutt fight at MSG, Perez is happy with the second best option in Albany. He feels rejuvenated and has put all thoughts of retirement behind him.
“I’m taking this second run in the UFC completely different and I’m ready to make some noise in the lightweight division. Retirement is definitely gone and I’m in this for the run. I definitely don’t see an end to this until I see a gold strap around my waist. After I take out Marc, I’m going to start vouching for big fights.”
Training under the tutelage of Mark Henry, Ricardo Almeida, Nick Catone and a world class list of teammates, Perez has taken motivation from their recent success and is looking to put his name on the map come December 9th.
“I train with the best guys on the planet with Frankie Edgar, Edson Barboza, Eddie Alvarez, Marlon Moraes, Corey Anderson, the list goes on. We’re a very small team but all my teammates are ranked, every single one of them and there’s no reason I shouldn’t be either and I know I’ll be there very soon. I’m looking to get this big W on December 9th and start steamrolling the lightweight division.”
Despite being retired for about a year, Perez was seen training at his gym almost daily. Although he enjoyed his time off and helping his teammates out, he felt something was missing, thus prompting his return.
“My mind is fantastic right now, it took me a good year to realize that I’m meant to do this and I want to do this. When I realized that I wanted to come back, training was going really well and when they called me with the fight I was taken back like alright we’re going to do this again. After this first week of hard training camp, I got done with sparring on Saturday with the biggest smile on my face and just excited to be back in full effect.”
His return will have a lot of eyes for multiple reasons, getting a comeback fight close to home is one story but the match-up itself is very intriguing. Diakiese is an exciting European prospect that fans have been very hyped about but Perez refuses to be a chapter in his story.
“I’ve been a stepping stone my whole life, everybody always counted me out,” Perez said. “They brought me in there to be a stepping stone for Johnny Case and that wasn’t me but they also brought me in there to bring Sam Stout’s career back and look what happened. If they’re having me as a stepping stone for this kid’s career, you know what they chose the wrong kid.”
Training alongside contenders Frankie Edgar, Edson Barboza and lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez have helped boost Perez’s confidence daily. Surrounded by elite high level athletes has given him all the faith in himself as well as his teammates. When asked about Eddie Alvarez’s upcoming title defense vs. McGregor, Perez predicted a finish for the champion.
“Eddie hasn’t shown his full potential yet and a lot of people haven’t seen that side of him but I have,” Perez said. “I’ve been on the receiving end of it so I know exactly what Eddie brings to the table. Conor is a good boxer and is very precise with his punches. He knows exactly when to hit and how to hit so if he catches Eddie early, I can see Eddie getting rocked in the first round but the second Eddie grabs a hold of him it’s going to be game over. Eddie’s boxing is really good too, he showed it a little bit with dos Anjos and his pressure game and wrestling is really good. Not because he’s my teammate but I see it Eddie Alvarez under 3.”
With Alvarez preparing for McGregor, Edgar preparing for Stephens and multiple other teammates preparing for big fights, Perez is looking to join their journey of success. Having tasted a bit of it last year when he scored a big knockout win versus Sam Stout, he feels reborn and is ready to make a run in the lightweight division.
“I’m going to go in there December 9th and let everybody know that I wasn’t sitting on the couch and got the phone call, I’ve been training for 6 months now getting ready for whoever they threw at me. I’m revamped, my whole attitude and perspective to the way this sport is and the way I look at this sport is completely different. I’m just going to go in there and have some fun, get a W and let the world know that the “Suavemente” is back.”