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UFC 255, The Morning After: Mike Perry is wasting his potential

Here’s what you may have missed last night!

UFC 255: Perry v Means Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

I can hardly think of a more frustrating fighter than Mike Perry.

Of course, if you hate him, UFC 255 was great ... and there are plenty of worthwhile reasons to hate him. Most recently, Perry made an ass of himself by missing weight terribly and complaining about it on social media. In the fight itself, Perry spent the majority of 15 minutes getting his face carved open by Tim Means.

Justice served.

In the grand scheme of things, Perry more than deserved his ass-kicking. At the same time, it’s never a lot of fun to watch a young athlete throw his potential away, and that’s particularly true in combat sports.

As an analyst, Perry and his short-notice debut knockout back in Aug. 2016 stood out. “Platinum” made it into the Octagon is less than two years and did so by wiping out all of his opponents via knockout. Both of those accomplishments are so telling, indicative of talent and championship potential.

In the cage, Perry has more than proven his physical gifts. Not only does Perry throw bricks, but his jawline is apparently made of cement. Even when getting out-struck at 2-1 clip, the fight feels very up in the air, as Perry wears strikes without issue and is only one clean connection away from changing everything.

The only true development Perry has shown since that 2016 debut is on the mat, which was also the only area he managed to really beat Means. In the opening round, Perry wrapped up a body lock, slammed his opponent, and showed a deft touch in nearly securing a face crank from back mount.

In short, Perry proved he’s capable of improvement.

His kickboxing, however? Perry has regressed. The Perry of 2016 was no technician, but his incredible fighting instincts made him a formidable counter puncher. In his last two fights, however, those instincts are nowhere to be seen. Instead, Perry slow-steps his way forward, walking directly into punches only to react a second or two after getting cracked.

I don’t know what has happened with Mike Perry’s training situation. Last I heard, he had found a new camp in Florida and was working with Yoel Romero. Is that still the case? It doesn’t look it. The only reason I can figure for Perry’s reactions looking so slow is a lack of sparring — missing weight can demonstrate a lack of discipline or poor work ethic, but it doesn’t automatically wreck reaction time.

More than sparring, Perry needs a coach, a guiding hand to direct his kickboxing style. Perry has real tools on the feet: nice lead leg kicks, tricky power shots that cover a lot of distance, accurate counter punching. If he were able to combine it all together into a smart approach, Perry already would be dangerous to ranked competition even without further improvement.

Instead, he’s floundering, having lost three of his last four.

There’s still so much raw potential in Mike Perry, but each loss that sees him absorb dozens of head strikes diminishes his gifts. Furthermore, every scandal outside the Octagon increases the odds that UFC sets him loose, at which point the concern is no longer whether Perry makes the most of his talents inside the Octagon.

The real worry would be news of some War Machine-esque catastrophe.

For complete UFC 255: “Figueiredo vs. Perez” results and play-by-play, click here.

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