Michel Pereira enters UFC Vegas 9 on a two-fight losing skid, but the Brazilian welterweight doesn’t feel it in his heart.
Pereira battles Zelim Imadaev on Saturday at UFC Vegas 9, seven months after losing via disqualification to longtime veteran Diego Sanchez. A long time has passed since that night in Rio Rancho, N.M., but Pereira still disagrees with the outcome.
“Demolidor” was ahead in the scorecards going into the final round and continued to dominate Sanchez in the striking area, but ended landed a clearly illegal blow to the head. Referee Jason Herzog eventually ended the contest when Sanchez said he could not see.
“The knee strike that cut him was one I threw before, not the illegal one, and what he did was – he was a coward, he used the rules, he used what happened to win the fight,” Pereira said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “He didn’t win in an honorable way. Someone that isn’t man enough in a moment like that doesn’t have my respect.”
Regardless of what happens against Imadaev on Sept. 5, Pereira is not looking to run it back with the original Ultimate Fighter winner.
“Diego Sanchez is in the past,” Pereira said. “It wouldn’t add anything to my career. To me, I won the fight, I outclassed him. I respect his name and his history inside the UFC, but, about that fight, he’s not on my level. He’s not an athlete I would like to face again because he wouldn’t challenge me to fight better and put on a better show.”
Back in February, before they shared the octagon for nearly 15 minutes, Pereira was very complimentary of Sanchez in an interview with MMA Fighting despite saying “his time has passed.”
Months later, Pereira still thinks that “fighting him was super cool and I really enjoyed it,” but learned valuable lessons about himself in the cage.
“I saw I was way ahead of him in terms of technique and cardio despite his experience and name,” he said. “I saw I was way ahead of him, but he lost face with me when he ran from the fight.”
Pereira looks to get back on track in the UFC after consecutive defeats to Sanchez and Tristan Connelly followed his incredible debut victory over Danny Roberts. Imadaev aims to secure his first octagon victory, dropping his first two UFC appearances to Max Griffin and Roberts.