Speaking with MMA Fighting ahead of his fifth octagon appearance, Pereira said he was offered a 170-pound bout with former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis for the same card in Las Vegas, but he claims “Showtime” turned it down. In the end, Pettis was booked against Alex Morono on the prelims of the Saturday event.
“I’m upset with Anthony Pettis because he said he was hurt, he had a back injury, and wouldn’t fight me, and I understood that, he’s hurt and can’t fight, OK, but now he’s fighting on the same card on the 19th,” Pereira said. “So why isn’t he fighting me? Is he scared? Or is it because I’m not ranked? Why? I almost didn’t get a fight in December because he was stalling for a month to say yes or no. He said no, and now he’s also fighting on the 19th.”
Pereira, who won a “Performance of the Night” bonus for a third-round stoppage of Zelim Imadaev in his most recent UFC bout, wonders if the MMA icon is “afraid” of getting in the cage with him.
“I think it’s fear, right? It can only be fear. I don’t know,” said Pereira of Pettis, who most recently won a decision over Donald Cerrone in May. “He can’t fight me but will fight someone else? I think it’s fear. … I know many fighters in my division are afraid of me, but time will come for me to fight them all. With my humbleness, focus, discipline and charisma, I’ll reach the top and get my moment.”
Pettis fights earlier that night on Dec. 19, and “Demolidor” will call him out if victorious against Williams.
“I want to fight him really bad, and he will agree to that if he’s a man,” he said. “We’ll put on a great fight. I would really like to fight him because if you look at his past, I admire his work. He’s done a lot for the UFC. I just wanted to fight him and he does that. He can say he won’t fight me, cool, I get it, but come up with an excuse and almost derailing my plans of fighting in December, man, that upset me. I really want to fight him.”
Pettis confirmed he was offered a fight with the Brazilian, but explained that the circumstances were different.
“When they offered me a fight on the 19th, I was looking at the 12th, the last fight card,” Pettis said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “If I’m gonna fight, I’d rather be on the last card fight of year, get an extra week. This was probably three weeks ago. I think they offered him to my agent for the 12th and I’m like, ‘I’d rather have the extra week.’ During that one week of negotiations when [Leon] Edwards got his COVID test results and pulled out because of COVID, that opened up a spot on the 19th card and I hit up Dana [White] myself [and said], ‘Dana, let me get on that card.’
“Dana sends me five names and he’s like, these are the guys available. That guy’s name wasn’t on that list. I know who he is because he’s tried the ‘Showtime Kick,’ and he did it a couple of times, but he’s mistaken that he thinks I’m afraid. I already fought the guy who’s in the main event of the card, why would I be afraid to fight this dude?”
“Showtime” has faced some of the best MMA fighters in UFC history, and debunks the claim that he’s afraid of Pereira.
“Maybe he should look at who I fought and then he can tell me if I’m afraid to fight a guy like him,” Pettis said. “A guy like him, especially since he comes from a striking background, maybe our paths will cross. But it wasn’t in God’s plan right now for us to fight. I don’t really gotta speak on that; I feel like he has to talk the talk to get a fight with me. These guys want to fight me, these guys want to get in the octagon with me.”
The Brazilian welterweight has his eyes set on Williams first, and he doesn’t expect an easy contest. “The Oxfighter” competed twice so far under the UFC banner, demolishing Alex Morono and Abdul Razak Alhassan in a combined time of 57 seconds this year.
Pereira moved full-time to Las Vegas after his most recent bout, training with veteran conditioning coach Rafael Alejarra and staying “closer to the UFC” so he’s ready to jump at any opportunity thrown at him.
“Demolidor” won’t make a prediction as to how he defeats Williams this weekend, but points as his experience as one of the keys for the win.
“I don’t think [Williams] will come in as aggressively as he has in other fights,” Pereira said. “I don’t know how he thinks, but I’m more experienced, I have 37 fights… I have three times more experience than him.
“If I were him, I wouldn’t come in like crazy because that could be very dangerous for him. But he has his style and we’ll respect that. I have mine, too, and I think it’s gong to be a fun fight to watch.”