Tatsuro Taira stays unbeaten with stoppage win over Alex Perez

Tatsuro Taira's takedown injures Alex Perez to finish the fight (0:51)

Tatsuro Taira's body triangle injuries Alex Perez and gives Taira the win after Perez taps. (0:51)

LAS VEGAS -- The undefeated Tatsuro Taira earned the biggest win of his UFC career with a second-round stoppage of Alex Perez in the main event of UFC on ESPN 58 at the UFC Apex.

The fight certainly didn't end the way Taira would have liked, however. Perez suffered a leg injury after Taira took him down with a unique body triangle while on his back. Perez fell awkwardly and yelled in pain when he hit the canvas.

"It's a special technique that only I can do," Taira said after the finish.

Although it was a surprising ending, Taira (16-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC), 24, had started to settle in and showcase why he belongs in the flyweight title conversation.

Fighting out of Okinawa, Japan, Taira, UFC's No. 13-ranked flyweight, was originally slated to face Joshua Van at UFC 302. Instead, he was slotted to headline at the Apex against an opponent who has been knocking at the door for a title opportunity.

Perez (25-9 MMA, 7-5 UFC), UFC's No. 5-ranked flyweight, entered the bout coming off a scintillating second-round stoppage of Matheus Nicolau in April to snap a three-fight losing skid. Although he was the higher-ranked fighter, Perez was the betting underdog, and as the fight wore on, it became obvious why.

Perez opened up aggressively, looking for combinations and leg kicks throughout the opening frame. But Taira began to settle in and pick off Perez's advances, cracking him with a beautiful counter right hand late in the first round. Perez secured a takedown late in the round, but Taira bounced to his feet almost immediately.

The second round saw Taira slide into a rhythm, finding success with pinpoint striking and leg kicks that damaged Perez.

After an accidental eye poke by Taira caused a delay in the action, the Japanese fighter swiftly took Perez to the canvas with a perfectly timed move. Taira immediately snaked around to Perez's back and fished for a rear-naked choke. Recognizing the danger he was in, Perez scrambled to his feet but found Taira locking in a body triangle and couldn't manage to shake it off.

The finishing sequence saw Taira contort his body to work in a leg trip while wrapped around Perez's back, causing him to fall awkwardly and injure his leg. Referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at the 2:59 mark while Perez writhed in pain on the ground. He was eventually stretchered out of the Octagon.

The win will almost certainly thrust Taira into the top five, and with a pristine record, a title opportunity cannot be far away.