Who’s next for Mike Perry?
That’s the question after Perry’s bare-knuckle barnstorming tour continued with him savagely breaking Eddie Alvarez’s face in two places at BKFC 56. As the new “King of Violence,” Perry is undoubtedly the biggest draw in gloveless combat and the best asset BKFC has in its coffers, so MMA Fighting’s Shaun Al-Shatti, Steven Marrocco, Alexander K. Lee, and Jed Meshew sidled back up to the roundtable to matchmake for the bare-knuckle king.
Al-Shatti: If you watched BKFC 56’s post-fight press conference, you probably picked up on the dilemma BKFC is beginning to find itself in with Mike Perry: His takeover of bare-knuckle boxing has essentially put him out of reach for 99 percent of the roster. Poor Dave Mundell (who Perry sparked out twice on the MMA regional scene) is the champion of Perry’s own division and can’t coax out the mildest shred of interest from the platinum one. Even Luis Palomino, a freaking two-weight champ and the No. 1 fighter on BKFC’s pound-for-pound rankings, had no recourse but to beg for the fight then sit there and listen as Perry squashed his best efforts with a mere mention of social media follower counts.
Perry’s star turn in bare-knuckle has been one escalation after another. The “Let Me Bang Bro” guy was an exemplary table-setter, Michael Page was the OK-we’re-on-to-something-here appetizer, Luke Rockhold was the oh-s***-this-is-actually-a-big-deal main course, then Eddie Alvarez was the ideal let’s-see-how-nuts-we-can-really-get dessert. Everything about this matchmaking journey has been perfect. The problem now is that any step forward from here probably does so on a downward slope, simply because most options on equal footing to Rockhold and Alvarez are either, A) already contractually tied up elsewhere, or, B) not insane enough to sign up for a bare-knuckle fist-fight against the quintessential Florida Man.
That’s why one name popped out to me above the rest on Saturday night: Paul Daley.
“Semtex” was born for this ish. He’s the perfect cross section of name brand, availability, violence potential, and a lunatic who’d be crazy enough to actually do it. Sure, Daley may be 40 years old, but he sent poor Wendell Giacomo to the land of wind and ghosts just last year. Daley very clearly left the door open for something different in combat sports when hung up his MMA gloves. That something is calling now. Pick up the phone, Paul.
Marrocco: There are tons of matchups I’d like to see Perry in. The problem is that most of those fantasy opponents are, A) retired, or, B) under contract with another promotion.
What’s the one matchup everyone wants to see against a guy who (as far as we know) is capable of signing a contract? That’s “The Gorilla,” otherwise known as Darren Till.
I’ve wanted to see these two fight ever since they came inches away from an afternoon at the spa and instead traded punches for relaxation. Are they friends? Are they enemies? They’re frenemies, and I want to see what’s real after all the rumor and innuendo about that sparring session. It’s not the greatest time for Till, and to Shaun’s point, you’re going to be throwing him straight into the wood chipper against Perry. But when else are we going to see something like this? If you’re looking for a good B-side that can get some buzz, I think Till can do it.
Lee: You don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to say it. But we all know which opponent will generate the most headlines (and, likely, outrage): It’s Dillon Danis.
My fingers were actively resisting typing that name, but when it comes to finding someone who can match Perry’s newfound stature in the bare-knuckle world, it’s Danis, a fighter — we use this term very, very loosely — who has a knack for ruffling feathers, generating buzz, and powering through the combat sports discourse without even a hint of shame or accountability. You thought he was done embarrassing himself with that Logan Paul fight? Oh no, the gloves are (literally) about to come off for Danis if this Perry fight is floated his way.
Let’s do it bare knuckle for the belt fuck it. pic.twitter.com/zyEXXWBLx7
— Dillon Danis (@dillondanis) December 3, 2023
It’s really a win-win-win for all parties involved. Perry continues his improbably babyface run by taking on a guy everyone loves to hate, Danis gets to keep pretending he’s about this life, and BKFC is handed what would certainly become the most talked-about fight in the history of the promotion on a silver platter. Simply put, Perry vs. Danis generates more social media buzz than any UFC fight that doesn’t involve Conor McGregor. If that sounds preposterous, well, everything about this fantasy matchup is.
Even though I’d set the opening odds at about +50000 on Danis actually showing up on fight night, this is still worth putting down on paper if just for the publicity it would bring to BKFC. And if Danis does end up stepping into the ring to take his licks, then hooray for all of us.
Meshew: These are all great options (except Dillon Danis, who we should all agree to collectively ignore until he fades into nothingness, forever), but they aren’t the best option, because the best choice for Mike Perry’s next opponent is Luis Palomino.
First, let’s address the elephant in the room: Palomino was at the BKFC 56 press conference and post-fight presser, and he got royally dunked on by both Perry and Alvarez. The man was out there trying to pick a fight, and instead he got stuffed into a verbal locker.
It’s a bad look. I get it. But even factoring that in, Palomino is the best option because it’s the best fight!
Everyone agrees that BKFC is the perfect home for Perry and his skill set, and then in their next breath start fantasy booking fights between guys who have never fought bare-knuckle before. Why? We have no idea if these people will take to bare-knuckle in the same way that Perry has. You know who we don’t have that question about? Luis Palomino.
Palomino is 9-0 in BKFC. Let that sink in. This man has willingly submitted to nine of these insane violence contests, and he’s won them all. We’re all showing love to Perry for his transition, but he’s only won four fights (and one of them was against Luke Rockhold who, let’s just be honest, isn’t exactly the type to thrive in this environment). Everyone is looking around for fun fights for Perry, but you know what would be the most fun? Another total psychopath who is built for this stuff. That’s the current BKFC lightweight and welterweight champion.
Palomino certainly isn’t as big of a name as Perry, and for that reason alone, it probably won’t happen. But it should. “Baboon” has been thrilling fans for his entire career (remember the absolutely bonkers wars with Justin Gaethje in WSOF) and he’s more than proven that he’s built for BKFC. It’s time to put the face of the franchise up against the current champ-champ and see what sort of carnage ensues.
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