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Once called a ‘clown’ and advised to quit MMA, free agent Michel Pereira hopes for UFC deal after going viral

Michel Pereira won back-to-back fights at ROAD FC by knockout.
Photo via ROAD FC's Facebook

ROAD FC is a big MMA promotion in South Korea, but not many hardcore fans would spend a Saturday morning watching the show. Yet, even if you missed the card on Feb. 23, you probably heard about Michel Pereira.

The Brazilian middleweight has been fighting all over the world over the past three years, but his career took a turn at ROAD FC 52. It’s not the first time he’s done a moonsault off of cage, spinning kicks, superman guard pass off of the fence or a flying side kick, but this time his knockout win over Dae Sung Kim went viral.

After a long trip back to Brazil from Seoul, “Demolidor” revealed that he wasn’t even supposed to be on the card after his original opponent suffered an injury, but he insisted on facing anyone after investing a lot of money in a four-week camp in the United States. He ended up fighting Kim, a fellow middleweight, in an openweight bout, and won.

Being almost 25 pounds lighter than his opponent proved to be no big deal in the end. Even though Kim’s punches “felt heavier” due to the weight difference, Pereira kept his flashy style going and got the finish 62 seconds into the second round. Inspired by veterans like Anderson Silva, Anthony Pettis, Jon Jones and Vitor Belfort, the MMA talent is also a dance teacher in Brazil, and he explained how he formed his in-cage moves.

“I’m a man of faith and some things I can’t explain. I believe God gave me this gift to be able to create my own style,” Pereira told MMA Fighting. “I try to only do the things I want now. Since I do train several martial arts and dancing, I kind of combine a bit of everything and do my style, try to be different. There used to be more of a show in the past in MMA, but fighters are kind of losing that today.”

Even thought he looked up to many UFC stars to create his own style, the 26-year-old middleweight had to deal with criticism throughout his 22-9-0-2 career in mixed martial arts.

“Everything is criticized in the world today, and my style was heavily criticized in the beginning,” Pereira said. “I was always swimming against the tide. The norm was always to fight for the finish, but I opted for the show, to do the things I was doing, and many people criticized me. People didn’t believe in what I was doing. I was told many times that the things I was training wouldn’t work, but I chose to put on a show.

“People said I was a clown and should be in a circus, but I always believed and had people who supported me. The people that were the closest to me were the ones that put me down the most, told me to quit fighting and get a job, that it wouldn’t work, but I believed in God and everything worked.”

With three knockout wins under the ROAD FC banner and only one loss over the last nine fights, Pereira says he’s a free agent now. The Brazilian fighter says his managers are already in touch with the UFC to negotiate a deal, and hopes to sign a contract soon.

Bouncing between middleweight and welterweight throughout his career, the 6-foot-1 “Demolidor” would prefer to go down to 170 pounds to compete in the Octagon.

“Every athlete that fights MMA dreams of being in the UFC and that’s my childhood dream,” Pereira said. “It’s the biggest promotion in the world. The biggest MMA icons fight there.”

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