Updated June 25, 2020 - 6:45 pm
Welterweight Mike Perry doesn’t expect much advice from his lone cornerperson for Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 12 co-main event bout against Mickey Gall at the UFC Apex.
“Sit there and enjoy the show,” were the instructions he gave to Latory Gonzalez, his girlfriend.
Perry made waves in the past for having his ex-wife, tennis pro Danielle Nickerson, as part of his team of coaches in the corner.
After losing three of his past four fights and going through a divorce this year, Perry has decided on a new strategy: Gonzalez, who does not have experience in the sport, will serve as his solo coach and source of emotional support.
“I am going to have a coach in my corner, it just happens to be my girlfriend,” Perry said Thursday. “She’s just going to be there to make me feel good and make me look good. If it even goes to the second round, it’s because I want to give her time to talk to me in the corner. I want her to give me a kiss and tell me to ‘go get him.’”
Perry, 28, said they did visualization work for the fight by watching the Japanese manga series “Naruto” and did cardio walking around amusement parks.
Gall has questioned Perry’s preparation and intelligence.
“What can I say?” Perry asked. “I’m sure he’s trained hard. Good for you, bud. Eat another salad. That’s not going to fix the broken jaw you’re getting on Saturday.”
The motivation behind the decision was multitiered, but Perry said the main aspect was realizing he didn’t pay much attention to his coaches during the fight anyway.
He thinks he was at his most successful when he went out and brawled early in his career instead of concerning himself with details such as game plans and strategy.
“I let people drown out what I knew I needed to do from years ago when I broke into the UFC and handled my business,” he said. “That was all me then. I was a coach at the UFC gym teaching cardio kickboxing. When I stopped teaching those classes and training full time listening to somebody else, I stopped listening to myself all the time. This is what got me here, and I’m taking it very seriously. This is my life. It’s what I do. Why would I want anybody else to get any credit or get that front-row seat than the only person I give a (expletive) about.”
Perry, who grew up in troubled circumstances between Flint, Michigan, and central Florida, has been an enigma with the UFC.
He scored thrilling knockout wins in each of his two UFC fights in 2016, but made more of a splash because he and his coach at the time were accused of making racially insensitive comments. To this day, he uses similar language during interviews and on social media, a habit he consistently defends.
His personality and knockout power certainly have generated attention, but he has reached somewhat of a career crossroads.
Perry is 2-5 in his past seven fights after an 11-1 start. He thinks he’s ready to start a new run of success and is thrilled to have Gonzalez by his side.
“As we get closer, I see that little sparkle in her eye like I’m doing something impressive, and that just gives me more fire,” he said. “On Saturday, I’m going to fight for her in front of her and not let anybody take anything from me.”
The fight is part of a main card headlined by a lightweight showdown between contenders Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker. The ESPN telecast begins at 5 p.m.
UFC on ESPN 12
Main card bouts for Saturday’s 5 p.m. televised event at the UFC Apex:
— Dustin Poirier (25-6, 1 No Contest) vs. Dan Hooker (20-8), lightweights
— Mike Perry (13-6) vs. Mickey Gall (6-2), welterweights
— Brendan Allen (13-3) vs. Kyle Daukaus (6-0), middleweights
— Gian Villante (17-11) vs. Maurice Greene (8-5), heavyweights
— Sean Woodson (7-0) vs. Julian Erosa (22-9), catchweight (150 pounds)