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Mike Perry: ‘I let people down’ against Santiago Ponzinibbio

It’s been two steps forward and one big step back for Mike Perry in his UFC career so far, a slow progression that has left the welterweight frustrated at times even as he maintains a positive outlook on his fighting future.

Perry entered UFC on FOX 26 in December on the strength of consecutive knockout wins that kept the buzz going around the 26-year-old Floridian. It was similar to the circumstances he found himself in 12 months earlier going into a bout with Alan Jouban. Perry was never able to figure out Jouban’s rhythm and he went on to lose a unanimous decision, the first setback of his career.

This time, fighting Santiago Ponzinibbio in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Perry was again hunting for a signature win to vault himself up the rankings and again he would come up short on the scorecards. During an appearance on The MMA Hour on Monday, Perry spoke about how it felt to see his hype train stall a second time.

“December is apparently a tough month for me at the end of the year, that third fight, it happened twice in a row,” Perry said. “I thought for sure I was going to redeem myself this December and I just let a lot of people down with a little bit of carelessness maybe, and you know I try to fight careless a little bit, that sometimes works in my favor. What can I say? Performers slip and fall. It happens.”

It wasn’t just his inability to put Ponzinibbio away that has Perry critiquing himself. “Platinum” has developed a reputation for compelling quotes as well as exciting performances and he knows he’s responsible for building up the expectation that he is a future contender.

“I was in interviews and I was like, ‘You gotta get behind me. USA, I’m here, and I’m ready to show the world,’ Perry said. “I guess what I showed was we’re tough and gritty and you don’t intimidate us, it doesn’t matter, but apparently I was vulnerable to that leg kick and I still had some things we had to work on and I just didn’t come away with the W. I let people down, I know people put money on me too and I let people down. I let myself down and I’m ready to make up for that.”

Perry will get a shot at redemption in his own backyard when he fights Max Griffin next month at UFC on FOX 28 in Orlando, Fla. Ahead of that bout, fans can expect to see a different Perry. He’s determined to improve not just his cardio, which seemed to flag in the closing moments of the Ponzinibbio fight, but his mindset.

That search for the one-punch KO may have proved costly against the strategic Ponzinibbio and Perry wants to make sure that his future opponents aren’t able to avoid him so easily.

“I came out (in the third round) and he throws a jab, I slipped it, throw a good leg kick. Then he throws another jab, I slip that, jab that busted up eye that he had,” Perry said. “I was walking him down, I hit him with a right hand just a little bit, but he was kind of rolling with the punch like I do and running away from me, turning his back.

“The next person that turns their back and runs away from me, I’m punching them in the back of the f**king head. Square to the back of the head because the ref says that’s their fault. You want to turn around and run away, I’m going to punch you in the back of the f**king head because you should be facing me like a man.”

Displeased as he was with Ponzinibbio’s fleet feet, Perry gave “Gente Boa” credit for being good with “sneaky, slippery s**t” and vowed to keep his composure in the future. He pointed to an eye poke from the Argentinan as an example of a trick that threw him off of his game.

However, the last thing Perry wants to do is blame Ponzinibbio for doing everything he could to win, even if the end result undoubtedly took opportunities away from Perry in the short term. Perry had been angling for a fight with undefeated Liverpudlian Darren Till, but he realizes he has to get back in the winning column again before calling any other shots.

“It’s up to me, like I said. It’s my fault, there’s another thing that I did that I let people down, but God’s plan is God’s plan,” Perry said. “I’m still here, I still proved something. Each time I’ll prove more and I’ll do more and be better, I don’t make the same mistakes twice.”

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