Michel Pereira is a gambler.
Most of the best fighters in the world rely on high-percentage techniques, moves that work more often than not. The jab, double-leg takedown along the fence, rear-naked choke — these are moves unlikely to suddenly drop off in effectiveness, because they work constantly for many different athletes of varying backgrounds and body types.
Pereira, however, has a penchant for the absurd, the one in 1,000 technique that almost never lands. If it does, though? Could you imagine how cool it would be if “Demolidor” jumped off the fence then landed a Rolling Thunder? The first man to successfully back flip his way to victory?
That’s the high Pereira chases ... consequences be damned.
Pereira’s desire to do goofy, chaotic things does not mean he is bad at fighting. In fact, he only has any chance at all in succeeding with these flashy techniques because he has a ton of talent and skill. Despite being an absolutely gigantic Welterweight, Pereira is routinely faster than his opponent. He moves with grace and demonstrates impeccable timing.
Technically, Pereira has definitely invested in his fundamentals as well. That snap kick up the center that pulverized Zelim Imadaev’s internal organs? A great weapon against just about anyone! Pereira’s boxing also appears to be more legitimate than most: a tight jab that he builds from with hooks and body shots, an accurate and crisp cross, great head movement.
On several different occasions, Pereira shifted left and right, baiting Imadaev to follow him directly into a perfect plant right hand. It was gorgeous work, reminiscent of Josh Emmett’s knockdowns opposite Shane Burgos.
Better yet, the flashy stuff worked too. How many times did Pereira jump off the fence and clean Imadaev’s clock with a cross? Hell, even one of his “Showtime” kicks actually resulted in a solid connection around the guard. That’s a dangerous wrinkle to Pereira as an athlete: his opponent cannot focus all his attention on that painful snap kick or jab, because Pereira might do something crazy at any moment ... and it will hurt.
Prior to last night’s performance, it was unclear if Pereira was actually any good. Powerful and dangerous, definitely, but good? That remained to be seen. After last night, the 27-year-old combatant definitively removed doubt, proving himself an actual prospect.
His decision-making was damn near perfect in terms of mixing up trustworthy offense with flash. He clocked Imadaev with straights down the middle directly before and after open-hand slaps, leaping knees, and attacks off the fence. He kept Imadaev off-guard the entire bout, landing hard without getting tired or clipped in the process.
Moving forward, Pereira will continue to battle with himself and his instincts. As his mind tells him to fly, the jab might instead be available. The risk of overexerting himself with wild flips that miss will always be there. A poorly timed kick-off-the-fence could see him taken down.
Imadaev pretty much ran into Pereira’s best offense, but future opponents may prove more conservative. Will “Demolidor” be able to contain his chaotic nature against such a foe? Will he revert back to an abundance of flips to keep himself entertained? It all remains to be seen.
All we know for sure is that it will be fun to watch.
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