Michel Pereira dismisses revisiting ‘little coward’ Stephen Thompson, wants eventual Israel Adesanya bout

Michel Pereira may have found a new home for himself at 185 pounds.

After an up-and-down run at 170 pounds, Pereira made his UFC middleweight debut this past Saturday with an explosive 66-second finish of Andre Petroski at UFC Vegas 81.

“It was just much better,” Pereira said on The MMA Hour. “I only had to cut 10 pounds on the week of. I trained more, I prepared more. I just felt so much better. I just kept training.”

Pereira, 30, tore through Petroski with surprising ease. After competing eight times as a UFC welterweight, “Demolidor” vaulted up a division and planted Petroski on the mat with a clean right hand early in the bout’s opening exchanges. Pereira then pounced with follow-up punches to end Petroski’s undefeated 5-0 run in the UFC and snatch away the momentum of one of middleweight’s top up-and-coming prospects.

“I knew I was going to knock him out, but I didn’t imagine it was going to be this fast,” Pereira said. “He was the guy that was [up-and-coming]. He was really good, he was coming off a victory, so it did surprise me.”

Pereira’s move to middleweight was not unexpected. The Brazilian veteran made the decision to change weight classes after a disastrous weight cut this past July for his UFC 291 bout against Stephen Thompson. Pereira tipped the scales at 174 pounds for the matchup, three pounds over the non-title limit for a welterweight contest.

It was Pereira’s second time missing weight in the UFC after previously tipping the scales at 172 pounds for a 2019 bout against Tristan Connelly, and Thompson was not happy. “Wonderboy” ultimately declined to accept Pereira’s miss and the fight was cancelled.

“I wanted to fight, of course,” Pereira said. “I was ready and prepared. I suffered a lot to lose weight for that fight, so obviously I was upset. I thought he was a little coward. In my entire career, I never saw anything like that. But at the same time, he was within his right [to decline].”

Pereira said Monday that he believes the opportunity to ever fight Thompson has passed, however he refused to close the door on a potential return back down to 170 pounds.

For now, though, the newly-minted middleweight contender is looking to extend his six-fight UFC win streak and capitalize on his newfound momentum at 185 pounds.

“I already spoke to my manager because I want to be back and fight in December at the latest,” Pereira said.

“I don’t know much about this new [division], but one fight that I really like, I really enjoyed him, he’s a little bit of a showman, his name is [Israel] Adesanya. I think it would be such a fun fight, me and him. I have nothing against him. I’m an admirer, so I would like to fight him if I could.”

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