Whether "Platinum" Mike Perry is willing to accept it or not, the details of his personal life are not inconsequential to his fighting career, in a result that's largely of his doing.
Perry (13-6), the brash welterweight who has grown into one of the promotions most exciting fighters and unpredictable personalities, has seen the buildup to Saturday's return against Mickey Gall (6-2) in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas center exclusively on who will and won't be in his corner.
Earlier this year, Perry separated from his wife of seven months, professional tennis player Danielle Nickerson. Known affectionately as "The Platinum Princess," she played a big role in Perry's career as corner woman and sparring partner during public workouts. If you've followed Perry's social media accounts in recent months, it has been a celebration of his love for new girlfriend, Latory Gonzalez.
Think about now cuz that’s what we got. My girl motivated me years before I even met her. I knew she was coming one day and that’s what got me into the @ufc , I lost sight and she finally came to motivate me. She is my god and I worship her. It is my honor to fight for @latory_g— Platinum Mike Perry (@PlatinumPerry) June 19, 2020
Perry made a shocking reveal last week on Twitter when he announced Gonzalez would train him for the Gall fight and be the lone person working his corner on fight night. Although Perry was heckled on social media after videos of Gonzalez holding the pads for him in training camp surfaced, he insists she has a background in boxing and high school wrestling.
The 28-year-old Perry, who enters having lost three of four fights, said he isn't necessarily looking for Gonzalez's instruction in this unorthodox move to essentially train himself and has another benefit of his girlfriend's presence in mind.
"Peace and quiet to hear [Gall's] corner. I don't ever hear nothing of value, bro," Perry told CBS Sports' "State of Combat" podcast on Wednesday. "I have been in positions in fights. When 'Cowboy' [Donald Cerrone] was going for the armbar, I didn't hear anyone yelling for me to watch for that armbar. Maybe I'm not listening or something but I just feel like, 'OK, if I ain't going to listen anyways, why the f--- should they be here and get any of the credit? What the f--- did they do for me to get a front row seat to one of the best f---ing shows on planet Earth?'
"This is a 'Platinum' Mike Perry fight, bro, and there's one person in this world who deserves the opportunity for that front row seat and that's the most beautiful thing that I ever saw. It's my girl, Latory Gonzalez."
To call Perry combative would be an understatement. Reached by phone moments after completing a run in the Las Vegas desert, Perry told a wild story about a construction worker who "almost got these hands just now" for walking up to him with a tough look in his eyes. He also confirmed his identity in a video which made the rounds in March of him knocking out a man in a parking lot on New Year's Eve, which he said was in retaliation to being punched.
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"Please believe that if you think that talking shit is safe, please believe that I will say something back that will make you overstep your boundaries," Perry said. "I can make you touch me and if you touch me I'm going to f---ing end your life."
Asking Perry too much about his new relationship is a slippery slope. On one hand, he credits Gonzalez with the newfound focus inside the cage that has him poised to regain the spark he claimed he once had ahead of his 2016 UFC debut, but lost along the way to a 6-6 record inside the Octagon after "success and the fans" distracted him.
"[Gonzalez] is new motivation, the best motivation and the motivation I've been looking for my whole life," Perry said. "What does a guy fight for? Deep down, the animalistic features we have say that 'if I could beat that guy and bite his neck before he bites mine, I get to take the pretty girl home.'"
On the other hand, Perry takes issue with fans and journalists believing they have a role or say in his relationships simply because they get a sneak peek through social media.
"I wouldn't say that it's an MMA community love story, this is my love story and you all want to butt in," Perry said. "This is my love story, you can't have it. This is me and Latory and just us get to view it. You can say what you want and I can't stop people from talking but if you talk that shit to me in person, please believe it's going to be a different story."
Despite Perry's stern warning, he happily shared the origin story of their relationship just minutes earlier. Interestingly enough, the match was set up in New Mexico by none other than UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who introduced the two at a bar.
"So I walked in and Jon Jones saw me and he smiled. He looked to his right and he saw Latory and he grabbed her hand and he grabbed my hand," Perry said. "He might have grabbed mine first; it makes me feel better [if I say] he grabbed mine first. He grabbed my hand and brought our hands together and I picked her up and gave her a hug and said, 'Let's get out of here.'"
Gall blasted Perry publicly for using Gonzalez as a coach, telling MMA Junkie this week, "I don't think it's a very bright idea but I don't think Mike's the brightest guy." The trash talk was a continuation of what Perry said started in November when Gall talked bad about him online and Perry went on to retaliate months later when the fight was announced.
Perry claims he has no respect for Gall, or any other man who stands in his way, because "all y'all act like bitches at some point until a motherf---er puts you in their place." When asked to share what makes him different as a man than Gall or anyone else, Perry took issue with the question.
"Because I'll beat your ass, that's why," Perry said. "You run your mouth and I'll beat your ass. You're a journalist, you ain't going to do shit to me. I'll punch you in the mouth and get away with it."
Perry looks at Gall's recent comments that he's a fan of the "Platinum" one as nothing but weakness, saying, "Now his blood is on the dotted line and he is f---ing scared and he trying to be friendly."
As to trying to determine how the fight ends or what's at stake in this high-profile bout for the future of Perry's career, the interview never got there. Nor did we about Perry's current beef with UFC middleweight Darren Till, which saw Perry recently challenge him to a street fight.
Perry took issue with being asked about Nickerson and, specifically, Instagram comments from former striking coach Frank Lester and teammate Diego Sanchez that the future of Perry's career will be better off because of the split.
"Who? Who said what about my life? It sounds like you agree with that, bro! Well, then why are you asking questions about my life saying this person said this and this person said that?" Perry said. "I don't f---ing know nobody and nobody knows me, that's for damn sure. I don't know why people are talking to me about other people saying things about my life.
"What kind of question is that? Get your own wife. You don't want to f---ing talk to me about mine. I don't give a f---. Why, because you're a journalist? You don't get paid for this shit. What are you doing with your life? F--- you, bro. Goodbye, CBS."
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If this colorful conversation is any indication, Perry's bout with Gall should be nothing short of reality television at its finest inside the UFC Apex facility when all things personal and professional for "Platinum" Mike combust simultaneously.