Roman Bravo-Young to have fellow Tucsonan Dominick Cruz in corner for his UFC debut

Roman Bravo-Young (left) will take part in his first UFC bout Thursday night after training with former two-time UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz, who is also from Tucson (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Two of the most recognized individual competitors in the wrestling and fighting world from Tucson will be together when Sunnyside graduate Roman Bravo-Young makes his UFC debut Thursday night in the UFC Fight Pass Invitational 4 at the UFC Apex at Las Vegas.

Bravo-Young, 24, will have Flowing Wells graduate and former two-time UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz in his corner for his featherweight bout with Alex Perez, a 31-year-old who has a career record of 24-7 (5-1 in TKOs and 7-5 in submissions).

The bout between Bravo-Young and Perez is one of the individual matches that features notable MMA athletes that coincides with an eight-man elimination Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament with individual matches that will stream live and exclusively on UFC Fight Pass  at 6 p.m., Tucson time.

Bravo-Young went 182-0 with four state titles during his Blue Devil wrestling career and then won two national championships at Penn State.

He has made it know that wrestling is his priority — with the ambition to compete internationally in the 2024 Olympics and beyond — but he has also mentioned that he will pursue a successful MMA career.

“The key is that when I fully feel like I am done with wrestling and just don’t have any fire, I am going to switch over (to UFC),” Bravo-Young told UFC.com. “Now, I cross train, yes. We work hands, we work striking, we work grappling. I can be good with being patient and learning the fundamentals and building up slowly.

“I think the key thing is time, and there is no need to rush it and Dom has a plan for me and I trust him and he is my main guy, so I just do what he says. I am still going to continue wrestling until I get burnt out because I am still making good money wrestling and I am not getting punched in the face. So I am not going to stop now and I am still young, so there is still time and there is no rush.”

Known for his diligence with his training, including at Jet Sports Training locally with Cruz, Bravo-Young has intensified the workouts in recent months to be fully prepared for his UFC debut.

“I have good people behind me and it isn’t like I am not training for this,” Bravo-Young said about Cruz and Brian Glick, who owns a third-degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. “It is a good platform and a good challenge. I want to do MMA, obviously and I want to get in there now so people can see my talent.”

Perez has not fought since losing via a neck-crank submission early in the first round against Alexandre Pantoja last July at UFC 277.  

Three scheduled bouts since then were cancelled, twice by him pulling out for an undisclosed reason last December and for a medical health reason in March.

Bravo-Young has mentioned that he hopes Perez “wants to scramble a little bit, and wrestle a little bit, and make sure we are just pulling guard.”

Perez told UFC Fight Pass that he might try his own wrestling skills against Bravo-Young. He wrestled at West Hills College in Lemoore (Calif.) and was a regional champion and All-American his sophomore year 12 years ago.

“Obviously, (Bravo-Young) has great accolades; I mean this guy is probably top five in the world right now at his weight class (133 pounds),” Perez said. “Why not? What’s the worst-case scenario? I get taken down or he takes my shot? I’m just going in there having fun. No pressure.

“I’m going in there to have a good time and test my skills. I’ve been working for a long time. I’m treating this like fight, basically. I’m still training by stand-up stuff, doing Jiu-Jitsu and I’m doing wrestling. Nothing’s really changed on that part. I’m excited. I’m ready to fun, have a good time and enjoy myself … The result is the result. He beats me, great. If he doesn’t, great. I beat him, great. I’m just excited to compete again.”


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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