Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Welterweight Mike Perry was not in the greatest of moods at a virtual media day for his fight at UFC on ESPN 12. With at least seven pounds to cut, talking to reporters was about the last thing he wanted to do.
“I am not happy to sit here and talk to y’all when I could be laying down watching TV, cuddling with my girl, or walking through Vegas, maybe getting some sun, cutting some weight, because I’ve still got some pounds to get off, but y’all like to talk to us on the very last day,” Perry told MMA Fighting during the streamed scrum.
Perry likes to work on his own schedule, as he’s made clear before Saturday’s ESPN-televised fight at the UFC APEX in Sin City. He’s run his own camp for a bout with Mickey Gall and took the unusual step of employing his girlfriend, Latory Gonzalez, as his corner. The move raised eyeballs despite his reputation as a wild card.
Not that Perry particularly cares about his critics.
“I’m happy with telling all you losers to go f*ck yourselves,” he said. “It makes me happy. I might not necessarily be talking to you. If that offends you, you must be a loser. You must be going to f*ck yourself, because if it doesn’t pertain to you, then it shouldn’t affect you, right?”
The 28-year-old fighter said he hasn’t lost any sleep over the decision to call his own shots. He’s worked with some of the most renowned MMA teams in the industry, once serving as the catalyst for welterweight star Donald Cerrone’s departure from the famed Jackson-Wink MMA team in Albuquerque. But at this point in his career, he believes he knows what he needs best.
“There’s no need to put myself in these silly situations every day trying to train like I don’t already know what I’m supposed to do,” Perry said. “I let people drown out what I knew what to do from years ago. When I broke into the UFC and handled my business, that was all me.
“I used to be a coach at a UFC gym and I was teaching cardio kickboxing classes, and when I stopped teaching those classes and started just training full-time and listening to somebody else, and I stopped listening to myself all the time. This is what got me here.”
Perry said his girlfriend’s hiring as a corner doesn’t mean he’s not taking his work seriously.
“Why would I want anybody else to get any credit or get that front row seat than the only person that I give a f*ck about? … I fight to be who I am, because who I am gets me the one thing that I fight for. My girl, bro.”
And Perry doesn’t expect his significant other to have much work on Saturday night, anyway, so there shouldn’t be a need for the advice that a corner person normally doles out.
“Life is fighting advice,” Perry said. “We fighting out here every day with this COVID sh*t and trying to deal with who’s rich and who’s poor, and who’s black and who’s white. We just keep fighting. I’ve done all the scientific explanations written down on paper, all this sh*t about how you should be, what you should do in a fight.
“I think I’m the one with experience, and I know how it should go. I just want to feel good. She’s going to be there to feel good, make me look good. If it even goes to the second round, it’s because I want her to have time to talk to me in the corner. I want her to give me a kiss and tell me to go get ‘em.”
Just two months ago, Perry and his now ex-wife Danielle Nickerson competed at a Submission Underground event in Portland, Ore. He spoke about obtaining a “winning mindset” and freeing himself from the pressure he felt to perform at a high level. He beat a longtime UFC vet, Al Iaquinta, and embarked on a road trip to Montana.
Since then, Perry’s life has taken a left turn. He said he prepared for Saturday’s fight in Lubbock, Texas, by watching a lot of episodes of the animated series, “Naruto” as well as “the whole three seasons of the ‘Avatar The Airbender.’ He and his new lady walked around Universal Studios and ate “lots of big steaks” at restaurants.
All of it is what he needed, he said. And if it works, who will tell him otherwise?
“Knockout,” Perry predicted of Saturday’s result. Then, for emphasis, he added, “I’ma knock his ass out. I’m going to knock Mickey Gall out.”