Mike Perry defends UFC champion Tyron Woodley, says ‘people are mad how smart he is’

Mike Perry made a thunderous statement for himself when he scored one of the most vicious knockouts of 2017 with his April stoppage of Jake Ellenberger.

The win pushed Perry’s UFC record to 3-1, with all three of those victories coming by way of highlight-reel knockouts, and now Perry is looking to extend his momentum in a co-main event contest against former welterweight title challenger Thiago Alves this Saturday at UFC Pittsburgh.

Despite his recent struggles, Alves remains a big name in the UFC welterweight division, the type of respected foe that would propel Perry into high-profile matchups against the best the weight class has to offer. But for “Platinum,” a win over the Brazilian won’t mean much if he fails to bring his unique brand of violence into the cage with him at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena.

“I think the fight night itself — it doesn’t matter who it is — that’s going to progress my career, because I’m going to show up, I’m going to perform, I’m going to entertain,” Perry said Monday on The MMA Hour. “I’m always going to be entertaining. And Thiago just happens to be, to me and to many other people, a legend. The champ calls him the original welterweight, and that’s what he is, man. Thiago is a beast, and I get to prove more and more each time. The opponents keep getting better, and after I smash him, I should get a top-five opponent.

“What’s his name, Colby Covington, No. 16, he got No. 1 or No. 2 or No. 3, wherever Demian Maia is now. He’s fighting Demian Maia? I should get a top-five (opponent). People want to see me and Robbie Lawler, people want to see me and Donald Cerrone. Neil Magny just got smashed by (Rafael) dos Anjos — dos Anjos ain’t no real welterweight, man. He beat a stick figure. … He did a good job. But that wouldn’t go that way with me.”

In just one year’s time, Perry, 25, has emerged as a fan-favorite in the UFC welterweight division due to his aggressive style and penchant for separating foes from their consciousness, something he did against Hyun Gyu Lim, Danny Roberts, and Ellenberger thus far in his Octagon run. Perry also hasn’t been shy about making his lofty aspirations known. After his successful UFC debut in Aug. 2016, he memorably challenged everyone at 170 pounds from Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks to Lorenz Larkin and Rory MacDonald. Perry could soon get his chance to test himself against some of the division’s top names if he gets by Alves.

But unlike many of his division-mates, “Platinum” won’t extend his barbs over to UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. While many fighters at 170 pounds have started to public criticize Woodley for the defensive nature of his recent championship fights, Perry defended “T-Wood” and his approach, throwing his support behind Woodley’s much-maligned title defense over Demian Maia at UFC 214.

“I thought it was a championship performance,” Perry said. “I thought he did a great job. Everybody hates on him. I think that’s what they’re supposed to do. I think they’re supposed to hate on ‘T-Woodley.’ That’s who ‘T-Woodley’ has become, this hated figure as a champion who just fights smart. People are mad how smart he is.

“I like the champ, he’s a good guy. I’ve talked to him a few times. He knows it’s a possibility one day we’re going to fight, but it is what it is. Like I said, it’s the fight business, and he ain’t going to have that clean performance against me, because Demian Maia, he can’t throw a damn punch. He couldn’t punch his way out of a wet paper bag. He grabbed him, he ain’t have no wrestling to take him down. He just grabs people, takes the back and hugs on tight. (Jorge) Masvidal did a fantastic job of defending that, he just couldn’t get him off his back, he couldn’t keep him off. ‘T-Woodley’ is an amazing wrestler and was way too strong. Simple stuff. I’m learning from watching. I’m going to keep it all up here for the future.”

For Perry, that journey to Woodley continues on Saturday in Pittsburgh.

A Florida resident, Perry said he departed for the event a week earlier than normal due to the looming threat of Hurricane Irma. Coincidentally, Alves also happens to live and train in Florida, however he decided to stay back and brave the storm from his home. That decision could lead to possible travel issues for Alves if flights out of Florida are delayed due to the effects of Hurricane Irma, but Perry is nonetheless confident that things will work themselves out and his opponent will make it to UFC Fight Night 116.

“It’s time to go to work,” Perry said. “Thiago had to stay behind and help his family and make sure everybody was okay, and things like that, that’s what he had to do. He’ll get here, I’m sure. He’s a fighter, he’s a survivor, I’m sure he’ll make it. But he ain’t going to survive Saturday night.”