Since his arrival to the UFC in August 2016, Mike Perry has drawn the attention of fans on a large scale. His brash behavior and stellar victories have only grown upon his popularity as the American has risen the ranks of mixed martial arts’ premiere promotion, and Perry now finds himself on the main card of this weekend’s stacked UFC on FOX 28 event in Orlando, Florida, as he faces former The Ultimate Fighter contestant Max Griffin.
Although Perry will be chasing a pivotal win under the lights of the Octagon this Saturday night, it must be said that things were not always so clear in the life of the 26-year old, who now holds an impressive MMA record of 11 wins (all of which are by knockout) and 2 defeats, both of which are by way of a decision.
Early life, struggles, and entry into martial arts
Growing up in poverty, Mike Perry’s fight began long before his first contest in professional combat sports. His childhood was filled with uncertainty, and Perry was regularly forced to change homes as a child. He often found himself being one of the only white children in certain schools and areas he moved to, and this led to Mike being alienated and faced with troubling situations.
The Michigan native was often involved in fights at school, and his turbulent environment led him to become involved in crime. At the age of 19, Perry was arrested for burglary. He was sentenced to two years of community control, and fell out of his routine of training and competing, moving further away from the goal he set himself not long before – to be a world champion in the UFC.
Things would get worse before he got back on track. After a probation violation, Perry spent six months in prison. He had hit a new low, but his time in jail was when Mike began to turn his life around. The youngster would speak of becoming a UFC champion with his fellow inmates, and he gained a new focus that has yet to be broken.
“Platinum” Mike Perry, who fights out of Central Florida, found martial arts at the young age of 11 and showed his potential soon after when he became an amateur Muay Thai state champion in Florida. This background led him to train in mixed martial arts, and he quickly set his goals high in the sport.
On his path to the organization he dreamt of one day competing in, Mike amassed an amateur record of 8-3 before turning professional in 2014. While competing in various promotions, Perry showcased his ability in eye-catching fashion. His seven fights on the regional circuit all ended in knockout, each of which were in Perry’s favour. The only loss he experienced was from a brief stint in boxing in 2015, where he suffered a TKO loss to Kenneth McNeil in what would be his only appearance inside the squared circle.
Arrival to the UFC, and subsequent run at welterweight
Perry’s entry into the ranks of the UFC’s 170-pound division came on short notice, as he filled in for Sultan Aliev in August of 2016. He would face Hyun Gyu Lim at UFC 202, which was one of the biggest events on the sporting calendar. Most expected the experienced Lim to prevail, and the Korean carried the majority of fan support into the bout following Perry’s antics at the pay-per-view event’s weigh-ins the night before.
However, “Platinum” did not waste time in winning back the support of the fan base. Coming in with an intense pressure, Perry showed a glimpse of his kicking ability in the opening exchanges. But, as he regularly does, the American turned exclusively to his boxing, and we soon found out why the prospect is so dangerous.
Mike introduced us to his lethal power early on, as he dropped the towering Lim on multiple occasions with well-timed right hands. His opponent was wavering as the first round approached its final minute, and Perry finished the fight with a left hook that he followed up with brutal ground-and-pound on the defenceless Korean. His UFC debut had gone perfectly, and Perry had immediately captured the attention of fans and fighters alike.
The American was given another stern test in his second appearance inside the Octagon when he travelled to England to face striker Danny Roberts in his home country at UFC 204. The fight exposed some weaknesses in Perry’s game, but also displayed the characteristics that give many people optimism about his future; Mike’s toughness, tenacity and fighting spirit shone through as he ate the best of Roberts’ strikes and pressed the Brit against the cage, constantly threatening him with his vicious knockout power and boxing skill.
He finally took advantage of the power discrepancy late in the third round. Perry, facing a likely decision loss on the judges’ scorecards, finished Roberts with a brutal knee and a right-hand that put the hometown favourite away in devastating fashion, making it one of the best knockouts of 2016 and a huge victory in the career of Perry. The highly-entertaining fight showed viewers that when “Platinum” competes, it’s must-see martial arts.
Now an established competitor in the UFC, Mike was determined to tackle the welterweight division’s elite. In his third bout in the span of four months, he was introduced to a new level of the sport when he faced Alan Jouban at UFC on FOX 22.
Jouban, clearly taking note of Perry’s previous performance against Roberts, employed a wary gameplan against Perry. His technical ability proved too much for the Michigan native as Jouban blasted him with leg kicks throughout the contest, slowing the prospect down significantly. Perry was knocked down for the first time inside the Octagon as he rushed the UFC mainstay, and he found little success in the fight.
However, the loss was a huge learning experience for Perry, and he carried the lesson into his next fight, which took place at UFC Fight Night 108 in April 2017 against MMA veteran Jake Ellenberger. Ellenberger was ranked 13th in the world heading into the bout, providing Perry with a golden opportunity to rebound from his loss to Jouban in impressive fashion.
He did just that. Although Jake Ellenberger secured an early takedown, Perry managed to work his way back to his feet. He showed a newly-found patience and discipline in his striking, and it paid off massively when he dropped Ellenberger with a left hook in the second round. As the perennial contender fought to survive against Perry’s heavy onslaught, Mike caught him a huge standing elbow from the clinch that sent Ellenberger crashing to the canvas, ending the contest instantly.
Perry took home his first Performance of the Night bonus for the win, and he was finally recognized as something more than ‘fun to watch’. With such a notch under his belt, “Platinum” became a fighter to fear for any welterweight on the planet, and his stock was on the rise as his unique personality and warrior-like mindset continued to show themselves in each and every bout.
He took the momentum gained from his triumph over Ellenberger into UFC Fight Night 116. After Thiago Alves pulled out of a scheduled bout with Perry, lightweight Alex Reyes offered his services and agreed to face the ferocious knockout-artist in a short-notice fight.
The size difference showed itself from the offset, and Perry wasted no time in chasing yet another knockout. It took him just over a minute to find one. A deadly knee to the chin of Reyes ended the welterweight showdown abruptly, and Mike was granted his second consecutive Performance of the Night bonus.
Another step up
Soon after, Perry was again rushed into a big fight. His exhilarating finishes and ability to end fights on the flick of a switch was leading fans to wonder what would happen if he faced off with some of the very best at 170 pounds, and the UFC decided to pair him with Santiago Ponzinibbio, a man on a five-fight win streak who was fresh off a knockout win over Gunnar Nelson.
Ponzinibbio has been a dark horse at welterweight for quite some time, but Perry felt that he could halt the Argentinian’s progress with his trustworthy power and speed. However, he was outclassed on the night by a more experienced and technical skilled fighter. Perry’s rock solid chin held up against Ponzinibbio’s attacks, but his cardio was a big problem for him in the fight, and Mike ultimately lost by decision.
But, he did show some major improvements, and Perry is far more evolved as a competitor and martial artist heading into this weekend’s UFC on FOX event than when we first met him back in August 2016. His goal (to win a world championship) is clearer than ever, and Mike is now training in ways that will help him find the next level of his game and catapult him towards title contention.
Expect fireworks as Perry kicks off the weekend’s UFC on FOX 28 main card. A win could lead him into a massive showdown with European ace Darren Till later in the year, which is a fight that could take both of the quickly rising stars to the main event stage in an instant.
His power is frightening, his athleticism promising, his mindset powerful. Mike Perry is on a mission, and this Saturday he faces Max Griffin in what will be a pivotal fight in the 26-year-olds’ career going forward. Perry will be competing in Florida, the place he has called home for many years now, and he is eager to put on a show. And when Mike Perry is eager to put on a show, you can expect to see a war.