Demetrious Johnson has an unpopular opinion for 2023’s MMA Fighter of the Year.
With UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland winning MMA Junkie’s Male Fighter of the Year, Johnson looked outside of the major MMA promotions for his pick.
Instead, “Mighty Mouse” selected Mike Perry, who scored two stoppage wins over former UFC champions Luke Rockhold and Eddie Alvarez in bare-knuckle boxing this year.
“Mike Perry has stopped two world champions in his last two fights,” Johnson said on his YouTube channel. “He’s gone against the grain. He was, I felt, a very successful mixed martial artist. He’s got big wins, and he did something different. He goes, ‘I’m not going to have no coach in the corner hand me water, telling me “Do this, do this. I’m going to have my girlfriend do that and save me some money,” and he did it.
“Now he is the ‘King of Violence.’ He’s beaten two of my good friends, Luke Rockhold and Eddie Alvarez, which – those guys are no joke. He has embraced and embodied bareknuckle fighting, and that’s why he gets my best Fighter of the Year.”
The former longtime UFC flyweight champion explained that the nature in which Perry beat Rockhold and Alvarez is what impressed him the most.
“There’s a thing to finish a fighter when they don’t have an option, but when a fighter actually quits, like, ‘Hey dude, I’m done’ – you don’t really see that in any form of combat,” Johnson said.
“Mixed martial arts, you never see a fighter go, ‘No, I’m done – I’m good.’ That’s the last thing a fighter wants to do. But he made Luke Rockhold and Eddie Alvarez do that. Granted, it was medical reasons, but those guys still have to self-consciously say, ‘I’m good – this sport ain’t for me.’”
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