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Mike Perry recalls chance encounter with UFC owner Ari Emanuel at Athlete Retreat

Mike Perry was among the hundreds of UFC fighters who descended upon Las Vegas last month for the much-discussed UFC Athlete Retreat. And while there were a few grumbles to be heard regarding the festivities, Perry said he enjoyed the weekend thoroughly. In fact, his time in the desert included an elusive encounter with Ari Emanuel, the rarely-seen executive of WME-IMG and new co-owner of the UFC.

“For 45 minutes, I sat by myself in this buffet area at breakfast and nobody wanted to mess with ‘Platinum’ Perry,” Perry recalled Monday on The MMA Hour. “... And then after about 45 minutes, one fighter comes up, his name is Dustin. His girlfriend and my girlfriend got along together, so he came and he sat with me. And then this woman, 30-something-year-old woman, sat across me, asked if she could.

“And (then) Ari Emanuel comes up. He comes straight to me, he taps me on the shoulder, shakes my hand, he says, ‘hi, I’m Ari Emanuel.’ I said, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know that name. I know I’m supposed to be excited to meet you, but I don’t know who you are.’ He’s like, ‘I’m one of the guys who bought the joint.’ I said, ‘oh sh*t, it’s nice to meet you then!’ Then we just had a little conversation, just the four of us.”

Given that Emanuel has effectively taken the reigns from the Fertitta brothers, Lorenzo and Frank, as the chief authority figure in the new UFC, such an inauspicious first impression may not have been Perry’s best move. But the hard-hitting welterweight simply laughed it off.

“It was the truth, you know what I mean?” Perry said, chuckling. “You can’t be afraid of the truth. It is what it is. I don’t read a lot or pay any attention to certain things like that, I guess. But then it came to me anyways, so if I’m supposed to know something, I think I will.”

WME-IMG made history last July when it purchased the UFC from the Fertitta brothers for a then-record $4 billion. Public statements from Emanuel and the new owners have been scant ever since, but Perry said Emanuel promised to him that good things were in store from the bosses at WME-IMG.

“He’s like, ‘I hope you’re having a good time. I hope you’re learning some things,’” Perry said. “He said he has big plans for all of the UFC and all of the fighters in it, all of the athletes. But winners, baby. You’ve got to be a winner.”

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