Michael Pereira explains middleweight move after weight-cutting scare for Stephen Thompson fight

Michel Pereira is now a full-time middleweight after coming in three pounds over the welterweight limit for his scheduled fight with Stephen Thompson this past July.

That weight cut was his scariest to date.

Pereira told MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast that his weight ballooned out of control because he had fights postponed or cancelled “five times” since his victory over Santiago Ponzinibbio in mid-2022. Pereira said he ended up “gaining mass and getting stronger” during his long stretch without weight cutting, and once UFC 291 fight week began for the Thompson bout, Pereira’s weight simply wouldn’t go down as usual.

“When we began cutting weight, doing what we always did, the result was different,” Pereira said. “I always went to sleep and woke up almost three pounds lighter. This time, I only lost a pound during my sleep. Every day was a struggle. I even spent four hours in a sauna, my friend. It’s not like I didn’t want to make weight or didn’t even try. I did everything I could.”

Pereira makes his middleweight debut Saturday at UFC Vegas 81 against Andre Petroski. The Brazilian has won his past five bouts, including wins over Ponzinibbio, Niko Price, and Andre Fialho, all of which took place at 170 pounds.

“It was suffering,” Pereira said. “You can meet your maker real quickly. I was suffering there and thinking to myself, ‘Man, I need to evolve and move up a division because my body can’t make 170 anymore.’ It’s not the first time I was that big, but since I kept getting fights cancelled, it was harder to cut weight after that. When I realized there was a problem, it was already too late.”

Pereira admits he feared for his life during the weight cutting process in Salt Lake City, and his team called the UFC medical staff for assistance.

“I felt something weird going on,” Pereira said. “I was sleeping in the bathtub, my last resort, when I called for the UFC nutritionist. I was sleeping, with one nutritionist massaging my arms and another massaging my feet, having cramps all over. I woke up jumpy, you know? I felt something bad. I was there, trying and trying and trying and trying. We stayed there for a long time and only lost half a pound. We saw there was nothing we could do.”

Pereira and Thompson are managed by the same agent, and the Brazilian believes “Wonderboy” was made aware of his plight and still decided not to take a fine and go through with the planned bout.

“I was willing to do anything, even if he asked for 50 percent of my purse or to maintain his spot in the rankings in case of a loss, something like that,” Pereira said. “I thought to myself, ‘Man, he can’t not accept this fight because of such low amount of weight. It’s not too much.’ I’ve fought guys 11 pounds overweight before. That was never an issue for me. I know the UFC tried everything they could, offering him more money and all kinds of things.

“I don’t have anything bad to say about him, it’s within his rights, but I think he overreacted a bit for not accepting this fight. He’s a fighter and he knows things happen. If I were being soft, showed up all jacked and didn’t even try to cut weight, cool, but his manager is also my manager and he was there with me the whole time. I’m sure he was giving Thompson feedback. I don’t know if there was a little bit of fear or whatever, but it is what it is.”

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