For Mike Perry, his latest win was a case of less is more.
“Platinum” drew even more fight week attention than usual ahead of his co-main event matchup with Mickey Gall at UFC on ESPN 12, primarily because of the news that he would be eschewing a standard team in favor of having girlfriend Latory Gonzales act as his sole cornerwoman.
While many questioned Perry’s decision, he pulled out a victory on Saturday night at UFC APEX in Las Vegas, out-striking and out-grappling Gall over the course of three rounds to win a convincing unanimous decision. At the evening’s post-fight press conference, Perry agreed that he’d silenced some of the critics with his performance.
“Proven right is what it is tonight,” Perry said. “I feel awesome, I can’t lie. There was a lot of haters, hating on us, hating on her, and she’s so innocent in all this. Obviously, it’s because I say things, I talk, from an entertainment side of the sport and also because they be hating on me so hard so I just talk because it’s, like, ugh. And then when she started getting it, I was just really upset, but I fed off that tonight.
“I remember before I walked out thinking about things that made me angry. Even though by the time I went to walk out, I was blank. That’s the way it should be. You react. You just go out there and fight. The work is done, it’s time to go.”
From the corner footage fans saw on the broadcast and social media, it appeared that Gonzalez primarily stuck to standard corner duties, bringing Perry his bucket and icing him down between rounds.
In lieu of any complicated technical advice, Gonzalez offered brief words of support, which according to Perry is exactly what he needed to hear.
“She did a great job,” Perry said. “She kept it very simple. She shouted a couple of things, I heard her during the fight and I remember telling myself, ‘Okay. There you go. She getting into it now. She was like, ‘Keep your hand up.’ There was one time he had swung and just missed. ‘Get your hand back up,” and I’m like, ‘Alright.’
“In the corner, when she was in there rubbing the ice on me, she kept asking me, ‘Hey, where do you want, what else do you want, what can I do?’ She was trying to do more for me and it was really cool just sitting in there quiet and just thinking about how the next round was gonna go.”
The relative silence—both due to the nearly empty APEX and Perry’s minimalist corner—even allowed Perry to listen in on Gall’s corner. That proved useful to Perry as he was able to figure out some of the codewords that Gall’s team were using later in the fight and he adjusted accordingly.
Speaking more of Gonzalez’s value, Perry was critical of how Gian Villante’s corner handled his struggles earlier in the night. He felt that Villante had to deal with negativity from his coaches and that was more hurtful than helpful (Villante wound up losing a competitive fight against Maurice Greene via third-round submission).
“These coaches that haven’t even been in the position that their fighters are in, that’s why I didn’t have coaches tonight because—I did though, (Gonzalez) was perfect because she knows she hasn’t been in my position,” Perry said. “So she spoke from a humble standpoint on the outside. She kept it simple and I didn’t need any advice.
“Maybe it was luck tonight that I didn’t—it was good luck to get this opponent—but I handled business and I’m gonna go back to the drawing board and try and put a team together that we can work for upcoming events.”
Regarding his next move, Perry expressed an interest in heading down to South Florida to work with American Top Team, specifically longtime middleweight contender Yoel Romero.
If there’s one thing Perry regretted about Gonzalez’s involvement, it was the backlash she received for her association with the polarizing Perry. The 28-year-old thinks that Gonzalez has a lot to learn about people.
“This is all kind of new to her,” Perry said. “Everybody loves her, so all these people hating because of me it makes me feel kind of bad sometimes that I brought her into that. But that’s what happens when you get attention and people just start hating on it and they’re hating on our dreams and our goals and we’re accomplishing them anyway.
“I really try more to coach her like, ‘Hey, look,’ she thought people were one way and now she’s starting to see that people are a totally different way. She was like, ‘Y’all innocent until proven guilty,’ and to me I’m like, ‘Y’all guilty until proven innocent.’ Until you prove yourselves to be cool and faithful. There’s no reason to be disrespectful. I don’t owe y’all nothing.”
In the end, Perry was effusive in his praise for Gonzalez’s support and whether he ends up working with ATT or another well-known team, it doesn’t sound like he has any plans to go back to the old ways of being coached.
“My girl did such a great job bringing in the stool and the bucket with the water,” Perry said. “I was thinking, sometimes coaches be so ready to get in there and tell you something like they think they’re gonna make a difference for you and it’s for themselves. They want to feel like they told you something that helped you win this UFC fight. And they’re just getting money and attention and trying to take credit for what your work has done. Like, bro, carry that bucket and bring me that stool. (Gonzalez) looked better than any coach all-time bringing that stool and that bucket. She was so pretty with that little ninja face mask, killing it all night long.
“So yes, it’s good to keep it simple, I feel like guys yell too much and they’re saying stuff, you can’t even think. Are you even trying to listen to this person? Should I stop trying to listen to this person? Listen, your words ain’t gonna make a difference, bro. And his coaches words wasn’t making a difference. I’m in front of you trying to punch you in the face, you gotta deal with that. That’s it. You gotta deal with that. Not your coaches. Not your game plan. None of that.”