Michel Pereira is possibly the most unique fighter the UFC has ever seen. In a sport where one mistake can cost a fighter his consciousness, Michel Pereira is daring enough to integrate video game-like Capoeira strikes and acrobatic moves into his offensive arsenal at the expense of his safety.
Does his style make him one of the most effective strikers on the UFC roster? Certainly not. But has he captivated fight fans and provided highlight reel-worthy entertainment time after time? You bet.
On that note, let's take a look at five of Michel Pereira's best acrobatic displays inside the Octagon.
#5 Opening sequence against Tristan Connelly
After winning his UFC debut via first-round knockout, Michel Pereira was oozing with confidence when he faced Tristan Connelly at UFC 158. This was evident as Pereira busted out a very flashy series of maneuvers to kick off the opening round.
Pereira began the onslaught by launching a Superman punch off the cage in a Jose Aldo fashion. Unlike his fellow Brazilian, Pereira's attack didn't land clean as it was partially blocked by Connelly.
Pereira then charged forward and busted out a cartwheel into a backflip. He followed up by channeling his inner Anthony Pettis and attempting – albeit missing – a Showtime kick. Confused by the action, all Connelly could do was literally run away from Pereira.
This proved to be a costly mistake as Michel Pereira ended up getting tired later on, eventually losing the decision after three rounds. Granted, Pereira said in a statement that the weight cut was to blame for his lack of conditioning, but his dance moves at the beginning of the fight certainly did him no favors.
#4 Rolling Thunder
Michel Pereira also busted a front flip heel kick (also known as the 'Rolling Thunder') against Connelly at the 3:22 mark of round one. He landed the kick but was ineffective as it did nothing to elicit a reaction from his opponent.
What's worse was that Pereira landed with his back against the canvas after completing the move. Against a fighter with a proficient ground game, Pereira could easily have ended up in a vulnerable position.
During Pereira's matchup with Diego Sanchez, he had a taste of his own medicine when the UFC veteran surprised him with a few 'Rolling Thunders' of his own. Pereira seemed on his way to victory as he landed clean, hard blows to Sanchez and scored a couple of takedowns. Unfortunately, an illegal knee strike late in the third led to Pereira's disqualification.
The perfect iteration of the 'Rolling Thunder' was demonstrated by striking savant Tenshin Nasukawa, when he used it to counter Yusaku Nakamura's right hook at RIZIN 10.
#3 Michel Pereira's introduction
Michel Pereira's introductory dance routine is the only one on this list that was never used as part of his in-cage offense. Nonetheless, his signature pre-fight ritual is as impressive as some of his moves.
Many fighters pump themselves up during Bruce Buffer's introduction, but for Michel Pereira, it's a completely different story. The Brazilian uses the moment to showcase his dance moves and performs his own supercharged version of the Spinaroonie in the center of the Octagon. No doubt, WWE Hall-of-Famer Booker T would be proud of Michel Pereira.
#2 Backflip double stomp
Some maneuvers make sense as a concept but aren't effective in real life situations. Michel Pereira's backflip double stomp is one of those moves.
In theory, elevating yourself and planting two feet into your opponent's upper body is a devastating maneuver. The impact of your full body weight along with the force generated by a backflip should deal significant damage to a downed fighter. That might be Michel Pereira's logic for continually busting out this attack.
But in reality, Michel Pereira's opponents were able to anticipate the move and lessen the impact by pushing their legs up, or avoid it completely by adjusting to a different position. If you factor in the risk that Pereira is putting himself into, performing a backflip double stomp is not worth his while. On top of that, inadvertently landing this move on an opponent's head would result in a disqualification.
He utilized the move against Connelly and Sanchez but failed to make it count as an effective strike. Outside the Octagon, Pereira landed a couple of backflip stomps against Sung Hyun Kim and almost got disqualified for it.
#1 Knee strikes
Say what you will about Michel Pereira's antics, but his athleticism is unparralled. When Pereira launches a flying knee strike, he does so with such high elevation.
Pereira's athleticism was on full display during his UFC debut against Danny Roberts. In the first round, he launched himself off the ground and landed a perfectly-timed knee strike to his opponent's head. The blow set Pereira up to connect with a clean straight-right to claim the knockout victory.
In MMA, the effectiveness of strikes always needs to come before flare and style. As Pereira surely knows by now, the simplest techniques, when executed to perfection, are the moves that impress the judges.
Michel Pereira as of late, is showing signs of maturity and no longer busts out fancy moves as often as he did earlier in his UFC career. As a result, Pereira has bounced back with back-to-back wins after taking two straight losses.