UFC welterweight Michel Pereira explained why he slapped rival Zelim Imadaev during their fight at UFC on ESPN+ 34.
Pereira defeated Imadaev in a highly-entertaining welterweight fight that ended late in the third round after a controversial referee stoppage. Pereira had dominated nearly the entire first 14 minutes of the fight and was cruising to a decision before attempting a rear-naked choke in the final minute of the fight. Referee Chris Tognoni ended up stopping the fight even though it didn’t appear Imadaev tapped, though Pereira would have won regardless.
But it wasn’t the early stoppage everyone was talking about after the fight, it was the open-handed strikes — the slaps — that Pereira landed in the fight. Not since the Diaz brothers has there been a fighter in the UFC who attempted as many slaps in a single fight as Pereira did, which got fans online buzzing. Speaking to reporters following the event, Pereira explained why he slapped Imadaev, owing to payback after the Russian slapped the Brazilian in the face at the official weigh-ins.
“I don’t know why exactly he did this, but I told him I would pay him back, and I did in the fight. I’m a man. You cannot slap my face,” Pereira said (via MMAFighting.com).
“I showed my hand, I kissed my hand and I slapped him so he can learn he’s not going to do it again. He cannot do that.”
At the end of 15 minutes, it was Pereira who had the final laugh as he dominated Imadaev, winning a $50,000 bonus for “Performance of the Night” in the process. The win improved Pereira’s record in the UFC to 2-2 and he could be in line to fight a name opponent in his next fight, though he isn’t like to get Jorge Masvidal as requested. As for Imadaev, he is now 0-3 in the UFC and after upsetting White at the weigh-ins, he could be released.
Who do you want to see Michel Pereira fight next following UFC on ESPN+ 34?