Michel Pereira wants to face Nate Diaz or Jorge Masvidal after his UFC Vegas 55 win over Santiago Ponzinibbio. The latter matchup involves more personal stakes.
The good-natured Pereira likes the Diaz match for the same reasons most fighters want to fight him – plus an exciting build-up and a fun night at the office. But the unpredictable striker isn’t as comfortable with an interaction Masvidal had with his wife on social media, and that’s reason enough to add ‘Gamebred’ to the list.
“I really want to fight Nate Diaz because I think it would be really fun to fight each other,” Pereira told reporters after his split decision on Ponzinibbio. “I think it was going to be a really fun fight. I think we will put on a show for all the fans. Or Jorge Masvidal because I have a little problem with him and I want to solve it.
“He sent my wife an emoji, the two hands together emoji like ‘Amen.’ He sent it to my wife. He didn’t send it to me. I never really met him. I didn’t get a chance to ask him, so I thought I’d really like to understand. But I might as well understand in the octagon and do it over there.
Pereira didn’t offer much more context on the situation. Part of his goal at UFC Vegas 55 was to get into a position where his callouts would have more impact, and beating Ponzinibbio, who was once shortlisted 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 just haven’t spoken to anyone, and now my word has a little more power. Now I can wreak havoc in the division. I feel like that was the first step and the next is fighting people on the leaderboard.”
Masvidal, ranked 8th by promotion, could be in a position where he has less clout to negotiate his next opponent. A recent arrest over an alleged assault on his former roommate and teammate Colby Covington promises to put his fighting career on hold for the immediate future. But many have also speculated that this could lead to a rematch between the top tier welterweights, who have each lost twice to current champion Kamaru Usman.
Diaz, meanwhile, is apparently on the way out of promotion. The Stockton, California star has reached out to the UFC for a definitive booking so he can move to greener pastures, though no one can guess if he’s serious or just negotiating his next deal.
What’s important for Pereira now is getting the kind of matchups he wants after spending so much time on the other side of the leaderboard, waiting for his opportunity while others sought more notable opponents.
“The fight I’m looking for is guys that I want to fight,” said Pereira. “I understand there is a time and a place to get the money. The money is here. We know we’re going to make money from this, but can you imagine me and Nate Diaz fighting, all that 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 it. I’m going to make money and I just think this is a time to put on a show for the fans.
If it turns out to be a great night at the office against someone like Diaz, Pereira believes he will do his best. If he can get someone like Masvidal to take responsibility for his behavior, all the better.