Rising welterweight Michel Pereira has signed a bout agreement to face Muslim Salikhov at the UFC’s first card of 2022, Pereira’s conditioning coach Rafael Alejarra told MMA Fighting on Thursday. The Jan. 15 Fight Night show is expected to take place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas and features Calvin Kattar vs. Giga Chikadze in a featherweight main event.
Pereira (26-10, 2 NC) has won his past three octagon appearances in a 10-month span, including a decision over Niko Price in July. Pereira holds an overall record of 4-2 under the UFC banner.
Salikhov (18-2) is on a five-fight winning streak in the company, the past two over Brazilian welterweights Francisco Trinaldo and Elizeu Zaleski. “King of Kung Fu” has won five of six since joining the UFC, including a first-round knockout over Nordine Taleb.
“This fight is a career-changing moment for Michel,” Alejarra told MMA Fighting. “We’ll take this guy’s spot in the top-15 with a win. Once we’re ranked, we’ll be listened to more in the organization and start to face the top contenders. We can’t get to the top of the division if we don’t fight top competition.”
Alejarra said they have been working hard in the conditioning area since Pereira’s flashy style demands a lot of energy and cardio, and he’s getting “faster and more powerful” every day.
“Michel knows how important this fight is and he knows when he can or can’t do the things people love to watch,” Alejarra said of Pereira’s unusual moves and attacks in the cage. “He’ll end up doing it in this fight if he sees an opening, but notice he didn’t do it against Khaos Williams. He fought seriously because that fight was important and that guy was dangerous.
“I think this is a good fight for him but we have to be careful because this Russian is no fool.”