When Georges St-Pierre left the UFC welterweight division in 2013, many believed that it would be a positive change for a division that had grown stale. Most of the top-10 fighters at the time had already lost to the champion and lost decisively, creating no need for a rematch. Since St-Pierre’s departure, the welterweight division burst forward with life, and three men have held the title since. First, there was Johny Hendricks, who defeated Robbie Lawler, the man who would take the title away from Hendricks shortly after their first meeting. Most recently, there is Tyron Woodley, who did the unthinkable and stopped Lawler for the first time in nearly a decade just four months ago. The division continues to flourish and has added exciting new talent in recent years, such as Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson — and even Conor McGregor at one point. Most recently, the UFC’s welterweight division has been taken by storm by the outspoken and undefeated “Platinum” Mike Perry.
Perry made his amateur MMA debut in 2011 and compiled an impressive 5-2 record before entering the professional realm just three short years later. His power was on display when he finished his first seven bouts by knockout or TKO, mostly in the first round. He was scheduled to compete for Titan FC when the call from the UFC finally came. In his debut, Perry, a massive underdog, knocked out highly touted Hyun Gyu Lim in the first round and followed the victory up with a thrilling third-round knockout of Danny Roberts just two months later. Perry is now looking for his fifth bout of 2016 and his third straight UFC victory in just four months.
“I’m feeling strong! I’m feeling full. I just had a lot of food [Thursday] and I’m so powerful right now, man,” Perry told Combat Press. “We’ve been talking about everything and legacies and what we got growing and what we’re building. There’s just constant work to be done. We’re never gonna stop. We can’t be stopped, so we’re just going to keep taking over, and I’m feeling pretty good about that.”
Many fighters would have a different mindset once the call to the UFC finally came. It brings a level of satisfaction and solidarity when a fighter knows they have finally reached their ultimate destination.
“Well, I mean, [from] a metaphor standpoint, I’m still hungry. I’m out here eating now, man,” Perry said. “I got plenty of money to eat and feed those around me as well, so I’m trying to spread everything and spread the wealth and the love and happiness that I’m getting.
“Life has definitely changed drastically, as far as being comfortable and making it easier to train and learn more about martial arts [and] get better at it, which is a scary thing because I’m pretty good at it already.
“We just gotta keep on working. It’s never over. As soon as I step out of the cage, I’m planning setting up the blueprint for the next one. I’m getting ready to go again and again, because I got a lot of years ahead of me. I’m thinking 10 solid more years of fighting — and solid meaning I’m not gonna slow down — and then maybe when I’m 35, I’ll slow down to fighting like twice a year or once a year like Mayweather, making $100 million a fight. Until then, I’m fighting three times every four months — that would be nine fights a year — and next year I’m looking to get nine fights, so I just gotta keep working, man.”
Nine fights a year. That might seem outrageous or absurd unless your name is Donald Cerrone. Fighter pay is something that still needs to come a long way. So, for a fighter, the more active they can be, the better they will be compensated. However, would the UFC really allow a fighter to compete as much as Perry is expecting?
“Why not?! Why would they stop me?” Perry wondered. “I’m good for them. They’re gonna love me.”
Recently. Perry entered new territory again when the UFC filmed his training and journey as a part of the Ultimate Insider series. It’s an honor for a fighter that has had such limited tenure within the organization and really a true testament that the UFC possibly has high hopes for the rising Perry.
“Yeah, man, they believe in me,” Perry said. “I believe that. At the end of the day, that doesn’t really matter as long as I believe in myself. [I’ve] just gotta keep faith in my abilities and just keep training at the end of the day. I gotta stay working hard. It becomes harder as you get more comfortable. It’s easy to sit down and do nothing. I gotta keep it hard. I gotta keep life difficult and find enjoyment in torturing myself and working out. It’s an odd mindset to have, but it’s a good life and it’s worth it. I’m working, man, and they’re gonna… They’ve already taken notice, but they’re going to start to pay attention a little bit more.”
During his career, Perry has only entered the third round once. It came in his last UFC bout against the aforementioned Roberts. Perry, who is now set to meet Alan Jouban at UFC on Fox 22, showed grit, determination and heart as he was able to finish Roberts with less than 30 seconds left in the round.
“I will not [coast],” Perry said. “I will put myself in harm’s way, and I’m always trying to get that knockout. I got the power till it’s over. I do what I got to do to win. So far, it’s gone that way. That fight showed me. I mean, Danny did great. He did everything right and I still came out on top. I don’t believe Jouban is going to do half as good as Danny did.
“I gotta keep pushing hard. I am learning new things, and I’m getting better at new things. And I’m trying to keep the striking crisp as well, even getting better at that. I wanted that fight with Danny to go that way so that when the time came and I was fighting guys who could withstand, I had been there and I had a little adversity and gone through it in the ring, because that was the first time I really ever have. It was good to put that fight under my belt and get that notch, so I’m ready for anything. And, like I said, nothing is going to stop me.”
When Perry steps inside the Octagon on Dec. 17, he will be taking on a man who is no stranger to the big lights, both inside and outside of the Octagon. Jouban made waves in the UFC upon his arrival in 2014 when he stopped veteran Seth Baczynski in the first round. Since then, Jouban has won four of his last six bouts, including stoppages over Richard Walsh and Brendan O’Reilly and decision nods over Matt Dwyer and Belal Muhammad. The biggest anomaly between Perry and Jouban lies in their age. Jouban is 10 years the elder of Perry.
“He’s never been up to my speed. He’s never been up to speed to the level that I’m doing it at,” said Perry. “If he were to try and do something like that now… I don’t know if he started late or what’s taken him so long to get as far as he is right now, but he’s beat and kind of pushing downhill. I’m going to pass him up and leave him in the dust. So, really, I think if he was even able to get to the speed I’m at, his body couldn’t maintain and he would break down. He couldn’t heal fast enough. I’m like a Saiyan eating Senzu Beans out here. Each fight, I get stronger and faster and better. I’m like Goku. I’m the Platinum Super Saiyan of the Universe. Motherfuckers ain’t ready.”
The debut for Perry could not have come at a better time. Just six months prior, Perry’s friend, training partner and brother Alex Nicholson got his call to the UFC. Nicholson and Perry have been training with each other since beginning their MMA careers. Perry was there when Nicholson won one of his first amateur belts back in 2013 in New Port Richey, Fla. He was in Nicholson’s corner when he made his UFC debut. Nicholson was there for Perry’s debut as well.
“I mean, to be honest man, we knew it,” Perry said. “It ain’t shit different, but we’re getting paid. We’re really getting paid. And to think, what I’m saying now, we’re really not getting paid compared to certain people. I mean, things tend to multiply, but ain’t a damn thing changed. We’re still the same people in our mind, and we’ve grown and we’ve learned and adapted. We’ve made mistakes, which has made us better and smarter. However, we have the same mindset and that’s why we are where we are and we’re still running shit together, because, I mean, we always knew we would be and believed. And we’ve been training together, so, I mean, he trains with me and I train with him, and we’re both good enough to make each other better in certain aspects compared to other fighters in our weight divisions. It is what it is.
“We’ve been saying this and we’ve been telling y’all for years, and we’re gonna keep telling y’all till we’re dead. I seen this movie the other day, that Bleed For This movie about Vinny Pazienza. And I don’t know if you’ve see that movie, but he was doing like an interview and they’re like, ‘What’s the biggest lie that you heard from anyone through all of this drama and trauma from your car wreck?’ He was like, ‘That it’s not going to be easy. That it’s not going to be simple.’ And they were like, ‘What’s not simple?’ and he said, ‘No, that’s the lie. That it’s not simple. Set your mind. Set your goals. Just go do it.’ And that’s what we’ve been doing. That’s what we’ve been telling everyone. It’s just that simple. Just go do it. And that’s what we’re doing, and people don’t understand and can’t believe it, and they’re mad because they can’t do it, so they hate. People hate things that they don’t understand. And they don’t understand us, and I don’t blame them. It’s OK. Sometimes we don’t understand ourselves.”
Perry wants to add his name to the list of opponents waiting for a crack at the UFC’s first-ever two-division champion, Conor McGregor.
“I’m ready to get that fight,” he said. “Let’s do it. Whenever he’s ready, I’m ready. “
In the spirit of the “Mystic Mac,” Perry already has a prediction for the outcome of his bout with Jouban.
“First-round knockout,” Perry proclaimed. “Go down the list. We’ll go backwards from the champion down the top 15. Anyone in that order or out of order: Tyron Woodley, Robbie Lawler, Johny Hendricks, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, whoever. Lorenz Larkin, Jake Ellenberger, any one of them.”
“Look at these two boys fighting,” said Perry, turning his sights on Sage Northcutt and Mickey Gall. “I don’t know if it’s a step down for me, but [it] sure would be an easy fight. And they might be worth money, I don’t know. I want the fight that’s going to get me paid.
“I talked to my manager and said, ‘After I whip this boy Jouban, I’m trying to get sponsors.’ Like, he’s a Versace model, so who knows? Maybe I’ll take two of his jobs that night. I’m trying to get to the money, man, and also grow as a fighter and fight bigger names — like, Sage Northcutt and Mickey Gall fight that night. I don’t know if it’s a step back because it’s an easy fight, or if it’s a step up in money and an easy fight. I wouldn’t mind that. Shit, why not? They are in my weight class, so let’s fight for more money and I’ll take you out easily. I don’t mind an easy fight for a lot of money. Or I’ll take one of the top 15 for a bunch of money and make it an easy fight. So it doesn’t really matter, man, as long as I’m getting paid.
“It pisses me off because people are saying I haven’t had anyone yet. But Danny Roberts is high skill level. People are doubting him because I smashed him, but that’s what I do to anybody. I’m going to smash them. It could be somebody even better than me, but the way that I fight, the way that I push forward and bring the fight to you and my power, I’m going to make it look easier. So people aren’t giving him his credit or don’t want to give me my credit because they feel like he doesn’t deserve any. He’s a high-level, world-class fighter and I smashed him.”
Perry even took a moment to ask a question of his own.
“Has anyone ever debuted and had three knockouts in four months? Ever?” he asked. “So I’m already doing new shit. That’s shit that ain’t been done. 170 and 185[-pound weight classes] better watch out. 170 is such a great weight class for me. I’m a big guy, and I’ve gotten a lot bigger the more times I cut weight. And the bigger I get, the more muscle I get, because I keep working out and training. I’m getting older and stronger. 170 is really a perfect spot for me.”
The worst time for a fighter to be in a training camp is easily around Thanksgiving. Many fighters have posted about their desire to eat all of the amazing food that’s prepared and how they couldn’t due to being in training camp. This was not a problem for Perry, who didn’t have to neglect his Thanksgiving feast.
“My last two fights, I didn’t put on all the weight I could have,” Perry said. “When I fought David Mundell the second time, I put on a pretty good amount of weight. When I fought Hyun Gyu Lim, I only put on like 15 [pounds], because I was excited that the UFC was calling and I trained my ass off. Like, two weeks out, I swear I was like 174 [pounds]. I had to go back up so that when I went back down, I would put weight on. And then, with Danny Roberts, I think I put on 16 pounds. So I can put on more than that, and this time I’m trying to save some weight, which is why I enjoyed my Thanksgiving, and I’ll save some weight and cut it all near the end, like I know I know how to do, and then put it all back on and be way too much for Jouban. He’s a powerful guy and he is a vet and he might fight smart, but then again, last time he fought a young blood that was willing to press forward and throw hands on him. [Albert] Tumenov knocked him the hell out.
“There hasn’t been a man yet to make it to the final bell with me.”