For Luke Rockhold and Mike Perry, the tension is palpable just days out from BKFC 41.
The two UFC veterans are slated to headline BKFC 41 in a five-round affair this Saturday at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo. The bout serves as Rockhold’s bare-knuckle boxing debut following a successful 10-year run in the UFC, while Perry has already racked up a 2-0 BKFC record since transitioning full-time to the pugilistic side of the game.
On Wednesday, Rockhold and Perry went face-to-face in a fiery dual interview on The MMA Hour, and the former UFC middleweight champion made it clear that he has plenty of surprises in store for his brash foe.
“Mike thinks a certain thing — he’s going to find out another,” said Rockhold. “A lot of people think one thing about me and they always find out another. He’ll come to find out.”
“I can say the same thing,” Perry replied.
“Mike, I know who you are,” Rockhold shot back. “I’ve seen who you are and everyone knows what you bring to the table. You’ve been doing your thing for a while. You’ve been boxing. Yeah, it’s apparent you can box. You’re a little f****** dog and you like to come forward. No one’s ever seen me box. No one’s ever seen me isolated in this spectrum and no one’s ever seen me move like this. You don’t know what to expect. I know what to expect.”
“It’s a left or a right, it’s not that confusing,” Perry said. “It’s a left or a right hand, footwork, some head movement. You’re southpaw, I’m orthodox. You’re rangy, I’m an inside fighter. It’s not that confusing. But it will be when I’m out there in front of you. I’m better than everybody who trained with. Every boxer you trained with for this, I’m better than them.”
Rockhold, 38, and Perry, 31, haven’t seen eye-to-eye on much. From the moment BKFC booked the bout, both men have reveled in taking shots at one another.
That was evident in their first faceoff earlier this month, which saw Chael Sonnen nervously try his best to keep the two fighters from engaging in any extracurricular activities. But that also didn’t stop Perry from seemingly wiping a booger on Rockhold’s oversized coat — and Perry was still pretty pleased with himself about the move when asked on Wednesday.
“Because it was hilarious. And it got everybody watching and realizing what happened,” Perry said.
“You know what the f****** pathetic thing is? You actually thought about that,” Rockhold replied. “You actually thought about that in the back, like, ‘I’m going to do this.’ You planned that thing. It was obvious you planned it.”
“Hell yeah, I planned that s*** for like a week,” Perry said.
“That’s how f****** pathetic you are,” responded Rockhold.
“I was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to put a booger on this motherf*****,’” Perry continued. “And every time I do an Instagram video now, every time I’m in my car or something and I’m like f****** recording myself, I’m like, ‘Damn man, there’s just always this little booger in there.’ I’m just waiting to give you more boogers. You were giving Paulo Costa bloody boogers. You’re the booger man now!”
Throughout Wednesday’s face-to-face, Perry repeatedly vowed to test Rockhold’s chin and add another knockout loss to his ledger.
Rockhold exited the UFC having lost four of his last five bouts after a successful run to the middleweight title. Three of those losses ended in brutal knockouts. However, Rockhold took umbrage with Perry’s promises of replicating those same results on Saturday.
“Who the f*** has ever put me out with one shot, Mike?” Rockhold asked.
“Yoel Romero,” Perry quickly replied.
“Vitor Belfort hit me with a spinning heel kick to the head. Yeah, I’ve got a standing eight count [in BKFC],” Rockhold said. “I’m going to get back up, I’m going to be right back in your f****** face. You think I’m just going to sit down and take a knee like f****** [Ryan] Garcia? F*** that, I’m going to be back up, I’m going to be in your f****** face, and I’m going to be throwing, no matter what. If you catch me with a little f****** thing, yeah, come on — I ain’t going nowhere.”
“Michael Bisping, his left hand. Yoel Romero, his left hand,” Perry continued.
“Michael put the two best punches of his life together. You ain’t Yoel Romero and you ain’t Jan Blachowicz. You’re a little f****** midget,” Rockhold responded.
Unlike Rockhold, Perry did not find championship success during his UFC run. “Platinum” established as a fan-favorite in the octagon because of his brawling style, but he ultimately won just seven of his 15 appearances with the promotion.
But with wins over TUF veteran Julian Lane and Bellator contender Michael Page now on his bare-knuckle résumé since signing with BKFC, Perry seems to have found his calling.
“Boxing suits him,” Rockhold admitted. “It’s a dumber realm. It’s a handicapped realm where you don’t have to f****** use all your skills and your f****** assets. So yeah, I think it suits Mike well. I’ve watched him, he’s fought a lot of smaller, weaker f****** guys that are still putting him to the test. This is going to be different.”
“I’ve never seen him as a brawler-puncher,” Perry responded. “He’s a he’s a great grappler. He’s strong when it comes to grappling and putting his hips on people. I mean, props to him because he knows he’s great grappler and he’s over here trying to punch now, but it’s going to be a rude awakening. It is. You’ve been at this game a long time, man. It’s someone else’s turn. I have the next seven years.”
Despite his MMA résumé significantly outshining Perry’s, Rockhold heads into BKFC 41 as the betting underdog, with “Platinum” listed on some sportsbooks as a near 2-to-1 favorite.
But that’s just fine for the former UFC champ. He is happy to prove his doubters wrong.
“I feel like people are underestimating me like they always do,” Rockhold said. “Mike’s in this game, he’s done his thing. I’ve handicapped myself. He’s moving up. It’s a perfect f****** storm. We’re going to fight. He’s coming forward and I’m going to f****** [outsmart] him all over that f****** ring. That’s all he’s got. He’s going to come forward swinging for the fences, I’m going to f****** stick, I’m going to move, I’m going to crack, I’m going to come forward, I’m going to back up. I’m going to do everything. I’m going to do it.”
“That’s not how I fight, man. I don’t f****** swing for the fences. I’m pretty calculated,” Perry replied.
“I see you, Mike — you’ve got a little something to you,” Rockhold shot back. “But trust me, you’re going to find out what I’ve got. You’re going to find out.”
“I’m going to have a piece of Luke with me forever,” Perry later added. “I’m going to take a little piece with me on Saturday, man. We’re connected forever, bro. We’re brothers in arms — and I’m going to f****** make you my little brother.”