After his UFC Vegas 55 win over Santiago Ponzinibbio, Michel Pereira wants to fight Nate Diaz or Jorge Masvidal. The latter matchup carries more personal stakes.
The good-natured Pereira likes the Diaz matchup for the same reasons most fighters who want to fight him – and exciting buildup and a fun night at the office. But the unpredictable striker doesn’t feel so good about an interaction Masvidal had with his wife on social media, and that’s enough of a reason to include “Gamebred” on the list.
“I really want to fight Nate Diaz, because I think it would be really fun to slap each other around,” Pereira told reporters after his split decision over Ponzinibbio. “I think it would be a really fun fight. I think we’re going to put on a show for all the fans. Or Jorge Masvidal, because I have a little bit of a problem with him, and I want to settle it.
“He sent an emoji to my wife, the emoji with the two hands together like ‘amen.’ He sent it to my wife. He didn’t send it to me. I’ve never actually crossed paths with him. I didn’t have a chance to ask him, so I figured I really want to understand. But I might as well understand inside the octagon, settle it over there.”
Pereira didn’t offer much more context on the situation. Part of his goal at UFC Vegas 55 was to get in the position where his callouts would have more of an effect, and beating Ponzinibbio, once on the short list for a title shot with seven straight wins, was a great start.
“First of all, it’s a tough division out there,” he said. “The first step for me is getting into the rankings. I was just talking to nobody, and now, my word has a little more power. Now, I can make a mess in the division. I do feel that this was the first step and the next one is fighting people in the rankings.”
Ranked at No. 8 by the promotion, Masvidal might be in a position where he has less leverage to bargain about his next opponent. A recent arrest for an alleged assault of his former roommate and teammate, Colby Covington, promises to hold up his fighting career for the immediate future. But many have also speculated it could lead to a rematch between the top-tier welterweights, who’ve each lost twice to current champ Kamaru Usman.
Diaz, meanwhile, is apparently on his way out of the promotion. The Stockton, Calif,., star has requested a final booking from the UFC so he can move on to greener pastures, though it’s anyone’s guess whether he’s serious or simply negotiating his next deal.
What’s important to Pereira now is getting the kinds of matchups he wants after spending so much time on the other side of the rankings, waiting for his opportunity as others sought more notable opponents.
“The fight that I’m looking for is guys that I want to fight against,” Pereira said. “I understand there’s a time and place to get the money. The money’s there. We know we’re going to make money off of this, but can you imagine, myself and Nate Diaz fighting, all the stuff a fight like this, with all our shenanigans and everything else. Money is a consequence of your work, and I’ve always thought about. I’m going to make money, and I just think this is a time to put on a show for the fans.”
If it’s a great night at the office against someone like Diaz, Pereira believes he’ll deliver his best. If he can make someone like Masvidal answer for his behavior, all the better.