As Mike Perry made the media rounds in New York on Monday to promote his Saturday bout against Max Griffin, I warned him that he might not want to leave the Big Apple, prompting the UFC to put out a search party to get him back to Orlando.
“That’s not true,” he said. “You don’t have to search for me to go get to a fight. I’m ready to go fight right now. I’ll fight the next five days in a row.”
He means it, too. Fortunately, no search party was necessary, “Platinum Mike” made weight and he’s ready for his first fight in Orlando since Jan. 30, 2015, the night he knocked out James “Murda” Rodriguez in a little over two minutes. He remembers it like yesterday.
“I was 1-0,” Perry said. “I fought a kid who had some YouTube fame for bare knuckle boxing down in Miami. He had videos with 200,000 views and I was like, ‘Man, I’m gonna get famous after this because I know I’m gonna knock this guy out.’ And I got that guy with the coolest knockout. I hit him with a right hand, he dropped and I just looked at him. Then I jumped out the cage. It was shortly after Conor McGregor did it and got in (Jose) Aldo’s face. So I jumped out the cage, but my family was in the crowd, so I just ran to my family.”
He laughs, also noting that 12 days after McGregor beat Dennis Siver and went viral for his confrontation with Aldo, the now 2-0 Perry didn’t get quite the same reaction.
“The commission was mad,” he said. “I said, ‘That’s what they do in the UFC, and I’m trying to get into the UFC.’ They told me, ‘This ain’t the UFC.’ I said ‘I know, y’all don’t pay enough.’”
Perry didn’t have to wait much longer to get some UFC paychecks though. By the summer of 2016, he was in the Octagon and knocking out Hyun Gyu Lim in his first UFC bout. Did he think it would all happen that fast.
“Definitely not, man,” he said. “But it’s like this. I’m thinking about the present or I’m thinking about 15-20 years in the future. I can’t tell what’s gonna happen within that next 10-15 years of me doing this. But all I know is that if I keep myself mentally prepared to train hard and get in big fights for the next 15 years, then I should be living good when I’m 45 years old and I should have a good legacy and people should remember me.”
He’s off to a solid start. Winner of four of his six UFC fights, Perry’s highlight reel knockouts, no nonsense attitude and charismatic personality have already garnered him a fanbase that’s growing with each walk to the Octagon. And he appreciates everything that has happened since the Lim fight in August 2016.
“A fan posted on Instagram that I’ll always have some of the best highlights in the UFC,” and that’s for eternity,” Perry said. “They’re going to play that elbow (against Jake Ellenberger), they’re going to play the knees (against Alex Reyes) and the Hyun Gyu Lim fight. To be honest, I can’t ask for more than what I’ve already got. I’m living my dreams, I’m doing it, I’m in the UFC, I’m in these big fights, the crowd loves me, I’ve got fans behind me, I’ve got people who support me, and they believe in me because they know that I come to fight and it’s real. It’s not a fake persona, it’s who I am, and all I can ask is that people see the realness in that. And they do, so I’m grateful. But it’s about continuing, so let’s go.”
It’s also about staying hungry. Again, Perry is in.
“I got bills to pay,” he laughs. “Once they gave me all this money, I bought a house. Now I gotta pay my mortgage. But I’m just trying to live and see what comes with that. I’m not trying too hard. I’m just trying to be myself and see what the world wants to give to me.”
Right now, Perry’s world is Orlando, and Saturday night, he expects a lot.
“I cannot wait to feel that energy when I walk out at Amway,” he said. “I think there’s gonna be 20,000 people there and every single one of them’s gonna be rooting for me. And I’m gonna know 15,000 of them. (Laughs) I can’t wait. It’s gonna be unbelievable. And I just don’t see any way, shape or form of myself losing this fight at all. I don’t see it.”
A win will be his fifth in the UFC and his first of 2018. It’s a pivotal year for him, and while he’s had his setbacks thus far, he says he’s learned from them and will use those lessons, plus the tools he already brought to the table, to make a lot more noise over the coming months.
“With the experience I’ve gained in the last year and a half, I’ve learned a lot of things about how people want to win and how they have to fight in order to win,” Perry explains. “I showed up with my normal mindset of ‘I’m a real fighter. I’m going in there to fight.’ But now guys don’t come to fight. Guys play for points and they try to win. So fighting doesn’t win fighting anymore. Running does. Cardio does. So my mind has to win the game, and they’re playing it like a game at the high levels. They don’t take risks, they don’t take chances, and I still will because I still believe that will be the edge for me over everybody else. I’m willing to take risks inside the Octagon. My chin is made of platinum and I will absorb any shot you give to me. I’m not saying I want to get hit, but if you have to, I’m gonna take it.
“This is my real contender year. This is the year that we’re gonna do everything right. Nothing’s gonna be wrong for me this year.”