5 keys to victory for Michel Pereira at UFC Vegas 55

UFC 264: Poirier vs. McGregor 3
UFC 264: Poirier vs. McGregor 3

Michel Pereira is always exciting to watch in the cage. As he returns to action at UFC Fight Night: Holm vs. Vieira, fans should expect quite the performance from the Brazilian showman. Backflips prelude flying knees and slaps disguised as punishing kicks. It's nearly impossible to tell what Pereira will do next.


Though the flashy techniques are a part of what brought him to this position, he'll need to be fighting at his sharpest for his opponent Santiago Ponzinibbio. It wasn't long ago that Ponzinibbio was regarded as a future champion, but injuries forced a 2+ year hiatus from the Argentinian.

Since returning, he's gone 1-2 as he jumped right back into the top of the heap. Regardless of the setbacks, he's still a dangerous fighter and is looking at Michel Pereira as his way back into the title picture. 'Demolidor' needs to be strategic in order to get his hand raised.

Here are five keys to victory for Michel Pereira vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio.

#5. Michel Pereira needs to conserve his energy

UFC 270: Michel Pereira v Fialho
UFC 270: Michel Pereira v Fialho

It's always a flashy movement that sets up the Brazilian's concluding shots, but requires a lot of energy to perform, and in the past has gassed out the Brazilian fighter. Essentially, Michel Pereira is walking on a thin line when he's performing. Fans shouldn't get it wrong, the 28-year-old is a technically-sound fighter, but his over-the-top style is one of a kind and he shouldn't throw this out the window as he climbs the ranks.

However, while taking on the 'Argentine Dagger', Pereira cannot afford to gas himself out. If he renders himself to be a sitting duck against the Argentine, who holds a 75% finishing rate, then a stoppage loss will be forthcoming.

The Brazilian staying fresh will subsequently keep Ponzinibbio on high alert. If the cardio holds up, then so will the element of surprise. Pereira should be wise not to sell out in the first round in hopes of a quick finish. Rather, he should expect a three-round war and fight accordingly.

#4. Mix in takedowns

UFC Fight Night: Pereira punching Williams
UFC Fight Night: Pereira punching Williams

As seen when he took on Kalinn 'Khaos' Williams, Michel Pereira is willing to deviate from his striking ways in order to secure clutch takedowns. Should this bout be closely contested on the feet, leaving the rounds hanging in the balance, takedowns are a safe way to get the edge on the scorecards.

Furthermore, takedowns are a form of mixing things up. Usually, when the Brazilian is mixing up his attacks, it's by way of abrupt and hard-to-read strikes. The takedowns will mix in a different threat for the Argentine to consider and will open up more opportunities to land strikes.

Ponzinibbio is well-rounded and capable of winning fights in any situation. Mixing in takedowns, even if they're unsuccessful attempts, will mitigate Ponizinibbio's comfortability as he's thinking of more than just oncoming strikes.

#3. Fight long, especially with kicks

UFC 270: Pereira kicking Fialho
UFC 270: Pereira kicking Fialho

Michel Pereira is at his most successful when he's utilizing his range. Although both him and his adversary bring a 73" reach into the fight, the kick-heavy Brazilian has a 1.5" leg reach advantage and should look to make every bit of it apparent as the fight transpires.

Prodding front kicks and quick roundhouses should be used early and often. If there's any advantage for a fighter to control the range in this fight, it'll be with Pereira and his lengthy legs.

This plan of attack won't be an out of the ordinary one for the 28-year-old. He's largely a kick-heavy fighter. It's just a matter of using these attacks as strategically as possible. Santiago Ponzinibbio is no novice, either. He'll try and draw Pereira into his powerful shots. The Brazilian will be about as safe as one could be in a fight if he's behind his kicks.

#2. Utilize movement

UFC 270: Michel Pereira(left) v Fialho
UFC 270: Michel Pereira(left) v Fialho

In and out, side to side, the weird angles he creates from lunging off the fence, "Michel Periera" is antonymous with "stationary target". Without gassing himself out, Pereira would be wise to utilize his movements more than ever as he fights a heavy-handed opponent in Santiago Ponzinibbio.

From dancing during his walkout to getting his steps in whilst fighting, the 28-year-old knows how to move around very well. This will come in handy against a relatively traditional fighter in the 'Argentine Dagger'.

Michel Pereira is one of those fighters that one would assume is hard to emulate in a training camp. Many of the fighters preparing Ponzinibbio can try to mimic 'Demolidor', but nothing is quite like the source. If he can be his overwhelming self and make the most of his mobility, it'll aid him in getting his hand raised come fight night.

#1. Use creativity and just be himself

UFC 264: Michel Pereira flipping onto Niko Price
UFC 264: Michel Pereira flipping onto Niko Price

Again, it was creativity that got him to the big show. Many were skeptical on whether or not Pereira's style would be functional at the highest level of the sport. But it's been tried and tested, and it definitely works. However, it still needs to be controlled.

The Brazilian showman has come this far into his career and made the most out of a style that he can truly call his own. His four-fight win streak and style have brought him to the biggest fight of his life, and now he should once again showcase his creativity in this matchup.

While there are many keys to victory for the Brazilian, none are more important than Pereira staying true to himself and having fun in the cage.

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Edited by Allan Mathew
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