You could excuse Anthony Perosh if he’s not too fond of picking up the phone for some news on fight week, especially since the last time he did it, he was brought in on just a couple days notice to face Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 110 last year.
But this time around, the news was a lot different for the Australian light heavyweight, who was notified Tuesday that his UFC 138 bout against Cyrille Diabate had been bumped up to the televised main card after an injury to Paul Taylor scrapped his bout with Anthony Njokuani.
“This one’s a lot better,” said Perosh. “I had a full ten week preparation and I’m coming off a win in February as well, and it’s like a bonus already moving up to the main card, opening up the show, and I’m excited.”
It’s been that kind of year for the affable 39-year old, who had his UFC struggles in the past, losing bouts to Jeff Monson and Christian Wellisch in 2006 before running off wins in four of six fights outside the organization that put him in position to receive that late week call to step in for Ben Rothwell against Cro Cop in February of 2010.
It was far from an ideal situation, but having the opportunity to fight in the first UFC show in Australia, a country where he helped (along with longtime friend and training partner Elvis Sinosic) build the MMA scene, was too tempting an offer to pass up.
He would get stopped after two rounds when the Octagonside physician decided that he had seen enough, but his willingness to step up and put up a gallant fight earned him another shot in the Octagon, and in February of this year, his bout in Sydney against Tom Blackledge went in a completely different direction. This time, he was back at light heavyweight and looking sharp technically, and at 2:45 of the first round, he had his hand raised after sinking in a rear naked choke. Suddenly, Perosh had a UFC career to look forward to. Not bad for a guy turning 40 next October.
“I’m 39 years old, but if someone asks when’s it time to retire, I always tell them, and myself as well, I’ll give it away if three things happen,” he said. “One, if my body just can’t keep up. Two, I lose more than I win. And three, I just don’t want to do it anymore. But at the moment, I’m winning more than I lose, I really want to fight and train, and believe it or not, I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, so I’m pumped and ready to go.”
In the 38-year old Diabate, he will be facing an opponent who is similar in age, and similar in career stage. The French striker has been around, paid his dues, and now it’s time to win and move forward. And while the easy way to break the match down is as a typical striker vs. grappler bout, both fighters are fond of going home early, with Diabate finishing 72% of his MMA wins (87% of his kickboxing bouts), and Perosh ending all of his 11 victories before the final bell. So this one has the potential to produce some interesting action while it lasts, but Perosh will take the win any way it comes.
“Every fighter wants to finish a fight as soon as possible, and from Day One, especially with my ground game, when I get you down and get on top, my goal is to keep you down and stay on top and work for that submission, and it’s worked well for me in the past,” he said. “But if on the weekend I get the win in the first, second, or third round, or even by decision, I’ll be happy.”
And since he’s on the main card now, if this is your first look at the Aussie veteran, he’s eager to put on a show for you.
“I’m really hoping they (the fans) see a complete MMA fighter, an aggressive fighter, and not just a BJJ grappler,” said Perosh. “That’s the main thing I want people to take away, and that I’ve given my all.”
Anthony Perosh - A Late Bloomer Gets Some Good Luck
"My goal is to keep you down and stay on top and work for that submission, and it’s worked well for me in the past." - Anthony Perosh