Mike Perry’s face is still swollen from his sudden-death win over Michael “Venom” Page at BKFC 27, and in his words, he now aims to “eat bullets” against a hit list that includes Jake Paul, Oleksandr Usyk, Mike Tyson, KSI and Jon Jones.
Perry has an argument for all of them, stretched as some might be given his size, experience and expertise. They all boil down to his willingness to get in the ring with anyone.
“Who’s the best fighter out there right now?” asked Perry on Wednesday’s The MMA Hour. “IT’S ME! I AM! ... So who wants some of this smoke, because it’s not about me calling out these cool people that I like. It’s about who’s a gritty, dirty motherf***** and wants to get in here with the champ!”
Of course, the champ has his preferences, namely Paul, whom he called out following his win over Page in London. At the time, the YouTuber turned boxer was unbooked – he’s since teased a booking in October – after seeing a fight against Rasim Rahman Jr. fall apart.
“I think it makes a lot of sense,” Perry said. “He keeps losing opponents – I always show up for my fights. I have a lot of attributes that he likes to compete against, UFC fighter, MMA fighter, shorter guy, smaller in weight, tough, and some people would stay stiff, or don’t move my head. And I just beat a titan in combat sports. You want to solidify yourself, you want to prove it to yourself and people, box me. ... You think you’ve got something on me, prove it.”
By now, hardcore combat sports fans are well aware of Perry and Paul’s past as sparring partners. They once tussled six rounds before the former fought Daniel Rodriguez in his final UFC bout and the latter faced Ben Askren. Depending on who you ask, Perry was “light work” or was turning the tide before time was called.
“He was getting tired dealing with me, and if he had an eight-round fight lined up and he only sparred six rounds with me,” explained Perry. “If I’m fighting an eight-round fight, I want to do an eight rounds, if not more. If you stopped early, it’s because I was getting the better of you in the later rounds.
“Yes, you can come out, and you hit me like a sniper in the beginning, sure. But I kind of wanted him to hit me, I wanted to feel what that Jake Paul punch felt like, and it wasn’t that big of a problem. There was no pain, I just wanted to feel the punch, like, ‘Oh yeah, you hit me with your best shot, I’m still here, baby, I’m coming after you.’”
A fight with Paul would be a huge paycheck for Perry and another high-profile fight. Paul’s October timeline would give him plenty of time to heal and train. But if it doesn’t happen, Perry is content taking on any other challenge.
“I don’t need him,” he said of Paul. “MVP was huge for me. I’m just a great fighter who still loves to fight. I’m all about the fight, and Jake’s been doing great. I’m happy for him and all the success that he’s had.
“I want to fight great guys, great fighters. Jake has done well, and he promotes really well, and I think we could do a great job promoting, talking to s*** to each other. Or I could fight Usyk – nobody’s calling that guy out . ... Mike Tyson, Usyk, Leon Edwards.”
Seriously, though, Mike Tyson?
“I have a speed advantage,” Perry insists. “I’m his little brother, let’s go. I’m little ‘Iron Mike.’”
Then again, Perry wouldn’t mind facing Page again in Bellator, which loaned out the one-time interim title challenger for the bare-knuckle headliner. And friendship certainly isn’t a barrier to a fight booking.
“I haven’t seen Jon in a while, so if Jon Jones wants to come beat me up in bare-knuckle, I’d be down,” Perry said. “That’s my boy. I love fighting, man. I want to fight the best.”
Perry chafes at the idea that his skills, or lack thereof, are to blame for his move to BKFC. The narrative that emerged in the wake of his departure from the UFC, he said, was that he’d been released from the promotion because he wasn’t good enough. In fact, he said, he was offered more fights, but chose not to work on the UFC’s timeline and took a more lucrative, flexible offer that allowed him to fight on multiple platforms. It started with Triller, moved to BKFC, and could go other places if the money is right.
“Everybody online was like, ‘Oh, you got fired, UFC let you go,’ but Michael ‘Venom’ Page comes over, and they’re like, ‘Props to [Bellator President] Scott Coker for letting him do that,’” Perry said. “C’mon, bro. Show me some respect. Put some respect on my name, dog.”
Perry will fight anyone for respect, no matter how much they weigh, and for the right numbers. In theory, Paul is a guy with the same mission. That’s why “The Problem Child” is, for now, at the top of the list.
“Jake, you don’t want this problem, bro,” Perry said. “I’m the real problem. You don’t want it, because I’ll beat your ass, any day of the week, any time, any month of the year, Mike Perry beats Jake Paul the f*** up.”