LAS VEGAS – Michel Pereira admits he had mixed feelings when the UFC offered him a matchup with Santiago Ponzinibbio.
Pereira (26-11 MMA, 5-2 UFC) knows the upside in getting a matchup with Ponzinibbio (28-5 MMA, 10-4 UFC), who has spent the majority of the past six years in the welterweight rankings and is an established figure in the division. But that was about the only positive he saw going into Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 206 co-main event clash, which takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas and streams on ESPN+.
“I was happy (to get the offer) because he’s a good fighter,” Pereira told MMA Junkie and other reporters through an interpreter during Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 206 media day. “I wasn’t so happy because he’s an Argentinian, and that’s more like a Brazilian, and I don’t like to fight Brazilians. But it’s the fight game, and we’re here to fight.”
Pereira said he holds Ponzinibbio in high regard and expects that respect to shine through until they step in the octagon.
Once the cage door closes, though, it’s all business. Pereira is currently riding a four-fight winning streak, and he knows this is his chance to break into the upper echelon of the division.
Because of that, Pereira said he’ll be looking to do something emphatic when he’s standing opposite Ponzinibbio.
“I don’t think this fight’s going to go the three rounds,” Pereira said. “I think I’m going to knock him out or submit him. I need to get into the rankings, and I’m going to finish it before the three rounds are over.”
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