Last weekend, the UFC flew nearly its entire roster out to Las Vegas for a special, athletes retreat. This retreat has generated quite a few headlines over the last few days – and very few of them have been positive. According to welterweight star Mike Perry, however, any bellyaching about this athletes retreat is unwarranted. On Tuesday afternoon, the knockout artist connected with BJPenn.com’s Chris Taylor to share his elation with the experience as a whole.
“I learned a lot this weekend,” Perry began.
“People are looking at things small-mindedly,” he continued, addressing the athlete retreat’s many naysayers. “What the whole weekend was about was broadening your horizons and looking further beyond yourself.”
Mike Perry then recounted his weekend meeting with Ari Emanuel, one of the owners of WME-IMG, the company that purchased the UFC last year. Apparently, his conversation with Emanuel was hijacked by an ornery fighter who saw the weekend as a chance to complain. In Perry’s opinion, this unnamed fighter was missing the point.
“The owner sits down beside me and shakes my hand,” he said. “He goes ‘hi, I’m Ari Emanuel.’ I don’t read a lot, so I was like ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know that name. I don’t know why I’m supposed to be excited to meet you, I don’t know who you are.’ And he goes, ‘I’m one of the guys who bought the joint.’ So I said ‘oh shit, man, nice to meet you then.’ I talked to him casually. He’s got a lot to do. He’s got a lot on his mind. He was there to have fun and so was I. Then this girl sitting across from me starts talking to him about protesting-type stuff. Like she wants to get into commentating, and when is she going to get those opportunities, and what happened with with Reebok, and when is she going to get more sponsorship opportunities. He wasn’t getting annoyed cause he’s a nice guy, but this girl, she was talking about pennies to him.”
Perry believes this fighter should have been more concerned with learning how to reap the rewards of the UFC’s new relationship with WME-IMG.
“It was about who we work for now, and how they’re there to work for us. We have their power at our disposal. It’s about how we look at it. We can look at it like they’re using us, or we can turn around and use them to the fullest.”
My mind has changed so drastically over just a few days. Last night when I sitting in bed, I was thinking I need to call someone and do an interview tomorrow. You told me, call any time you want to talk about something. And I always thought, I’m just gonna talk to you guys if you guys want to talk to me about something. But they took me so much further this weekend. Brandon Marshall spoke with us, Kobe Bryant spoke with us, Michael Strahan spoke with us, the guy from Shark Tank, the billionaire, he spoke with us about accounting and pushing ourselves further.”
“This is what changed it for me,” he continued. “The UFC has always been like the mecca. If I take over the UFC, that’s the goal, that’s everything. The way they said it was like, the UFC is just small potatoes for [WME]. The UFC is just a little more income for them. They’ve got some billion dollar corporations, and they’ve got more than one of them. So then I started look at it that way, that this is just a platform. That’s what Brandon Marshall said. I took that from him, that the UFC is just a platform for whatever I’m supposed to do during after my fighting career. I’m thinking 20 years ahead.”
“The biggest message of the weekend was be a winner,” he said. “But you don’t just win the fights. There are other ways to be a winner too. Win the post fight interviews. In your schedule, do more things. Sign more times for more opportunities.”
Mike Perry then reiterated that, contrary to widespread outcry from other fighters, he found the weekend incredibly enriching.
“It was like going to school again,” he said.
“People can say whatever they want about me, but it was the best weekend of my life and I couldn’t have done it without the UFC. It never would have happened for me. I never would have had a private concert with Snoop Dogg. That never would have happened if it weren’t for the UFC, and I want them to know that.”
“The weekend was totally paid for for everybody. That’s gotta be millions of dollars they spent right there.”
Finally, Mike Perry explained that he plans to use his newfound knowledge to make his fortune, reinvest it, and make the world a better place.
“I’m gonna get my money cause I’m gonna shut up and fight,” he said. “And then when they give me enough money, I’m gonna take that money and I’m gonna multiply it. I’m gonna do things with it. I’m gonna try to change the world. Maybe I’ll build a school for pussies and weaklings and teach them how to man up and grow a pair and go out and get what’s yours.”
What do you think of this assessment of the UFC athletes retreat from Mike Perry?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/22/2017.