Michel Pereira may have lost to Tristan Connelly at UFC Fight Night in Vancouver on Saturday night, but he certainly won the crowd – and the internet.
The 25-year-old Brazilian fighter put on a wild show during his fight against 33-year-old Canadian native Connelly, with a performance that featured backflips, superman punches, and flying knees.
Pereira’s stunts just barely stopped short of full-on breakdancing and looked more like a gymnastics routine than an MMA fight.
The people watching couldn’t get enough.
“Pereira is like when you just spam buttons on the controller. That’s how he fights,” ESPN combat sports reporter Marc Raimondi wrote on Twitter.
Seriously, just look at this cartwheel that evolves into a backflip.
“I don’t care what you say. Michel Pereira is a treasure and I will protect him,” Fernanda Prates, an MMA writer for The Athletic, wrote.
But all those acrobatics caught up to Pereira, and he seemed to run out of energy by the end. Connelly walked away the champion in a unanimous decision.
The theatrics weren’t for nothing, though. The faceoff between Pereira and Connelly was crowned Fight of the Night.
Connelly was asked about his own strategy in the face of Pereira’s performance.
“You can’t stop against him and you can’t back up against him,” Connelly said at a news conference after the fight. “Those are two things I knew. I knew that he, like … I’ve been training with capoeira guys for a long time and they’re all like, ‘Man, what he’s trying to do is get you to freeze so he can hit ya.’ So I just knew I had to be in his face.”
Connelly also suggested that people shouldn’t expect to see him doing backflips anytime soon.
“I knew I wasn’t going to do any show like him. I’m a fighter,” Connelly said. “Like I said in a couple interviews beforehand, if doing backflips was what I believed important in fighting, I’d be great at backflips, but I couldn’t do one to save my life. I practice punching people, choking people and kicking people because that’s what seems to work in most of the fights I watch.”