It seems the UFC has reached something of a tipping point with Mike Perry. The welterweight has found himself making headlines in the past for racially motivated statements from a cornerman in Perry’s UFC debut, as well as Perry’s own use of racial and homophobic epithets. But Perry’s actions at a restaurant in Lubbock, Texas – where he was charged with misdemeanor assault – this past week have finally pushed the UFC to suspend Perry’s contract while the fighter seeks behavioral counseling and treatment for “issues related to alcohol.”
As UFC President Dana White recently revealed in a media scrum ahead of UFC 251, Perry’s recent behavior is something he’s felt has been coming for a little while now. Not so much because of Perry’s more highlighted past incidents. But instead because of Perry’s recent comments towards fans and media (transcript via MMA Junkie).
“I saw this coming the last several months with Mike Perry,” White said. “All you have to do is watch his interviews. Watch the way he’s interacted with you guys. He literally said in an interview leading up to his last fight, ‘I hate all of you. I hate the media. I hate the fans. You guys want to say stuff to me on Twitter and then walk up to my face and try to be nice to me. I’m telling you. Don’t walk up to me when you see me in the streets. Don’t touch me and don’t say hi to me.’ He said that leading up to that last fight. He’s a man of his word, apparently, and here we are today.”
“He obviously needs some help,” White continued. “That’s not normal behavior. He’s gotten a lot more angry and agitated. You see this happen with guys and girls when they start to get a little bit of fame. They start to get famous. I have a blast on social media. You see a lot of people who don’t have fun on social media. There are some horrible things that are happening to people in dealing with social media. Everybody deals with it differently.
“I love criticism. I love whatever you want to call it that goes on on social media between fans and media and all that stuff. I’m built that way. He’s definitely not built that way. He’s definitely a guy that should probably stay off social media. He needs to make a few changes in his life. We’re going to do everything we can to help him.”
It will be interesting to see how long Perry’s contract suspension lasts. Jon Jones was notably fined $25,000 and went through a rehab stint lasting only 24 hours after testing positive for cocaine surrounding his 2014 fight with Daniel Cormier. They also placed Jones under indefinite suspension following his hit & run incident, officially reinstating him to the roster six months later.
More often, public suspensions over fighter conduct – such as Khabib Nurmagoemdov’s brawl with Conor McGregor after UFC 229 – have been handled by state athletic commissions. When questioned about why the UFC was taking this stance now, when they haven’t in the past, White was insistent that it’s something the UFC has done several times, but has rarely come with a public statement from the organization.
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