This Saturday Night: “El Goyito” Returns To the Octagon


Perez at the weigh-ins.

Erik “El Goyito” Perez Ruvalcaba will be returning to the octagon this Saturday night to compete against Byron Bloodworth. The bantamweight bout is scheduled to air on the FX portion of the broadcast.

Longtime boxing and MMA scribe Kevin Iole wrote a great article on “El Goyito” over at Yahoo Sports. “El Goyito” grew up as a lucha libre fan and wanted to wear a mask to the cage for his UFC debut against John Albert back in June of this year. Zuffa vetoed that request, perhaps not understanding the major role that lucha libre has played in the lives of so many Mexican’s and Mexican-American’s. Iole with some good news:

After pleading his case with White, Perez finally got permission to wear a mask before his three-round bantamweight fight Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden against Byron Bloodworth. Members of the UFC marketing team came up with a rough outline, but it was finalized by Victor Martinez.

Martinez is arguably the most notable luchador mask maker in the world. His father, Don Antonio Martinez, made masks for numerous legendary Mexican figures.

“Maybe this will have some magic,” Perez said, laughing. “The guy who made this mask is super famous. His father did the masks for El Santo and Blue Demon and I think that will make some magic it in for me.”

The move to allow Perez to wear the luchador mask is a wise one by UFC management, because it is another step toward reaching the fight-crazed Mexican fan base.

Boxing is arguably the top sport in Mexico, and at worst, it is on the same level as baseball and soccer. It gets massive television ratings in Mexico – the highest-rated show in Mexico in 2011 was Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao III, and the 2012 Canelo Alvarez-Shane Mosley fight outdrew the Olympic soccer finale (which Mexico played in) on Televisa, Mexico’s largest network – and the UFC is hoping to cash in on fighting’s popularity.

As far as his favorite luchador, some American fans may be surprised by his answer. But it’s not really surprising if you are or knew Mexican or Mexican-American fans that grew up watching lucha libre. Perez’s favorite was a favorite of many young boys that grew up watching AAA, as he was one of the major stars of the early 1990’s lucha libre boom.

“Octagon was my favorite Luchador. He was a martial artist and would use kicks and punches against the bad guys. I wanted to be Octagon when I grew up. I wanted to be a martial artist and fight with honor and Mexican pride when I grew up. I would wear his mask and pretend I was brave and strong like he always was. He was like Spider-Man or Captain America to American kids. … I grew up always wanting to be a luchador. I think that all Mexicans are luchadores. All Latinos fight, maybe not in the ring, but in life. Fighters in life! That is what a luchador represents to me, somebody that never gives in or gives up, somebody that is always there, somebody that gives their all.”

This is a great way to distinguished “El Goyito” from the rest of the fighters in the UFC. It’s also a smart move to have him on a show headlined by Cain Velasquez. If there is any extra time during the PPV broadcast portion, it would be in their best interest to replay “El Goyito’s” fight.

“El Goyito” made his MMA debut at the STFC promotion way back at STFC 2 (May 2008), losing a split decision to Tim Snyder. He would bounce back at STFC 3 to win via TKO. Overall, he competed in the Rio Grande Valley’s premier MMA promotion seven times; winning four times and losing three bouts. His last fight was an exciting tilt in McAllen against Jesse Thorton in April of 2011. He won that fight via rear naked choke. I was there reporting for his last STFC fight in McAllen, and had this to say in my article at the time:

The two exciting Perez brothers from Monterrey, NL had electric performances in their fights. First off, welterweight Ivan Eduardo Perez Ruvalcaba had a fight with Chris Brooks that featured sassy scrambles in the first and a rear naked choke victory in the 39th second of the 2nd round for the Monterrey native. Not to be outdone by his brother, bantamweight Erik “Goyito” Perez Ruvalcaba displayed good use of the plum clinch and used his knees in the first round of the fight. In the 2nd, Erik was able to duplicate what his brother did earlier in the night, by defeating Forthood’s Jessie Thorton via rear naked choke.

Since then, he competed successfully in Shark Fights and BAMMA, before stepping into the octagon against John “Prince” Albert in June 2012. The entertaining bout featured an unfortunate controversial stoppage by referee Kim Winslow. “Goyito” had an armbar locked and Winslow stopped it before Albert submitted. Despite Winslow’s judgment, it was a great debut for rising Mexican fighter. “Goyito” returned to KO Ken Stone in August 2012 in 17 seconds, earning him “the fastest KO in UFC bantamweight history” record.

Here is “El Goyito” receiving his mask. Check out the sense of excitement he has when he puts it on. Even Greg Jackson approves, as he probably understand that something like this helps gets “El Goyito” psychologically prepared for his fight.

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