LAS VEGAS – When Darren Till was forced to withdraw from this week’s UFC on ABC 2, budding rival Mike Perry admits he was initially a little disappointed, but then realized perhaps it was a blessing in disguise.
“I was looking forward to maybe slapping him in the face and making headlines this week,” Perry told MMA Junkie at Wednesday’s UFC on ABC 2 media session at the UFC Apex. “But it’s interesting because we all come here with a mission, and you know, it’s whose name is on the other side of that paper, so that’s the most important thing. So it’s better that I don’t have to deal with any type of drama.”
Drama has seemingly played a central role in Perry’s UFC career to date, both in and out of the cage. But with the birth of his son earlier this year, Perry said he’s developed a new stance on his own behavior.
“My son means the world to me, and my family and my life, and just lit this fire that I didn’t know was going to happen, and I’m happy for it, and I’m grateful for it, and I’m going to stay humble,” Perry said. “I was just doing an interview and I said, ‘You know, now I have a reason to be a role model.’
“I never really cared to be some type of role model before, but now I have someone who I’m going to teach everything to, and that’s the thing I got as a dad – I’m like, you can’t push too hard, and then you don’t want to miss anything. You don’t want to be like, ‘Man, I could have told you about that and I missed it,’ but who knows what’s going to happen? He’s only three months old, so sky’s the limit.”
In addition to the changes in his personal life, Perry (14-7 MMA, 7-7 UFC) has also switched up his training, as well, siding with Florida’s MMA Masters crew in preparation for his Saturday matchup with Daniel Rodriguez (13-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC), which airs live on ABC from the UFC Apex following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.
Perry is actually a slight underdog in the matchup, according to the oddsmakers, but he believes sacrifices he’s made in training will propel him to an impressive performance. And while he admits there was a time in his life when wins and losses didn’t matter as much as hearing the roar of the crowd, that has begun to change, too.
“Results definitely matter, but sometimes they matter to me more than other times, or in the past, they might not have mattered as much as – you know, the most important thing to me was always just showing up and fighting,” Perry said. “Then sometimes, you can’t learn until you do things a certain way, whether it be the wrong way or the right way, and then you really find out and know things about yourself, so you know, I’ve made the sacrifices. I put in the work.”
Perry’s fights generally prove exciting, win or lose. But at 1-3 in his past four appearances – and after badly missing weight in his most recent outing – Perry is in need of doing something special. Whether that happens on Saturday remains to be seen, but he’s certainly saying all the right things ahead of the contest.
“I’m here and I’m ready to fight anybody any day this week, every day this week,” Perry said. “I’m ready for pictures. I’m ready to take my shirt off. I’m ready to show out and go all day long, five rounds, non-stop. I don’t know. It’s thanks to God that I feel better than I’ve ever felt ”
So perhaps a few less headlines for now aren’t the worst thing for Perry’s focus. Besides, once Till has healed from the broken collarbone that pulled him out of UFC on ABC 2, Perry thinks making a trip up to 185 pounds could prove fruitful.
“I trained my ass off for this,” Perry said. “I sacrificed for this. I dieted for this every single day. I want what you guys are at home stuffing your faces with – stuffed crust cheese pizza, whatever. Lasagna or just pasta.
“I know I’m talking trash, and on Twitter, I be breaking down. You be seeing me. I’m like a girl on my period on Twitter when I’m on weight cut ’cause it’s just awful. It makes me want to go up a weight class, so when I knock this fool out on Saturday and Darren Till’s collarbone heals, let’s make that fight happen at 185. I eat a chicken sandwich with one hand and hit him in the face with the other.”