UFC 202 has been getting a bit of a tummy tuck with a number of changes to the midsection of the card’s lineup and a slew of new faces being brought into the promotion. Most recently Tim Means has picked up a new opponent in former TUF talent Sabah Homasi, but newcomer’s Chris Avila, Marvin Vettori, Mike Perry, and Max Griffin also dot the card. Today I’m looking at those last two: Max Griffin, who’s set to make his UFC debut against Colby Covington, and Mike Perry, who steps in for Sultan Aliev against Hyun Gyu Lim on short notice. So...
Who is Max Griffin?
Max “Pain” (because of course) Griffin is a 30-year-old welterweight fighting out of MMA Gold and Marinoble’s Martial Arts in California. MMA Gold is home to Invicta prospect Aspen Ladd, as well as a number of longtime regional MMA vets. He’ll be making his way to the Octagon with 12-2 record, including an exhibition loss to Matt Secor in the opening round of TUF 16, back in 2012. Since that short TUF stint, Griffin is 8-1, with his only loss coming via split decision to recent Bellator pickup Chidi Njokuani. Griffin has strong wins over UFC vet David Mitchell, Bellator mainstay Fernando Gonzalez, and top shelf regional journeyman Ricky Legere Jr. Toss Waachiim Spiritwolf and Jaime Jara in there and an early split decision loss to Justin Baesman to make a very good, battle tested record. Outside of MMA, Griffin has a blackbelt in Bok Fu, training under Dave Marinoble.
What you should expect:
Griffin seems a bit like the kind of fighter who’s always had enough power so that his technical game didn’t have to be that deep. That’s not to say his technique hasn’t improved, it has. But, he’s still something of a cautious outside striker working behind a quick jab, who flips a switch to pressure brawler when he feels he can get inside. Neither his distance game nor his clinch game are especially complex. And when he brawls he usually swarms with a series of arm punches. He has good form on single strikes but will move on straight lines and hold his head high when throwing in combination. Still, there’s enough speed and power behind everything he does that he can take the chance that if he’s going shot-for-shot with you, you’ll fall first.
Outside of his striking, Griffin is a willing wrestler, but very dependent on his speed and strength. He can get in well on a transitional takedown off his striking, but has trouble finishing, because he will just try and muscle opponents down. This can also mean that he gives up bad positions in scrambles while trying to power through grappling. He seems like the kind of fighter who may find that most of his success in the UFC comes through pure physical advantage.
What this means for his debut:
Against Colby Covington? That’s a big ask for a fighter like Max Griffin. Sure, he’s got a puncher’s chance, especially against a fighter like Covington who is still trying to find his success in places other than wrestling. But, this feels a lot like a more dangerous, but less technical version of Covington’s fight with Meunier. Griffin could find a big opportunity to land a power shot, otherwise he’s probably getting wrestle/grappled for three rounds.
To get us better acquainted, here’s Griffin’s recent bout against Randall Wallace:
Who is Mike Perry?
A training partner of Alex Nicholson at the UFC Gym in Winter Springs, Florida, “Platinum” also spends time over at ATT Orlando. The 7-0 welterweight comes to the UFC not just undefeated, but having only been out of the first round twice, and never having seen a decision. His biggest win to date is over UFC and TUF 16 vet Jon Manley, however the rest of his record is pretty decent with wins over decent regional vet Frank Carrillo, and rising prospect David Mundell.
What you should expect:
Perry appears to be an MMA native (having no other background in combat sports to speak of), but there’s no question that he’s a bit of a physical freak. He’s got great power, decent speed, and a healthy dose of dynamic athleticism. It’s been the driving factor of his success as he continues to develop the technical side of his game. Unlike Griffin above (who started his career back in 2009), Perry seems to be much more of a blank slate, establishing a fundamental base to build on. He’s a very patient striker, who looks for big single dynamic punches and keeps range with a few powerful kicks. He rarely seems to throw more than one strike at a time, but each one has pretty bad intentions.
Still, he has a lot of work to do in terms of not waiting on the end of his strikes, or watching to see what effect they had. And of course, he needs to up his volume and fairly static footwork and head movement. The question is, are those the kind of things he’ll learn in his current training environment? The raw ability is there, but his craft still needs a lot of molding.
What this means for his debut:
Perry’s definitely got power, but given his still wooden fundamentals, lack of head movement or active footwork, and relatively not-overwhelming pace, it’s really hard to see him not getting KO’d by Hyun Gyu Lim. Perry is the kind of fighter that could benefit a ton from a big camp and a few more years of seasoning. But, he’s getting thrown to the wolves on short notice and will have to depend on physical gifts to make the best of it.
To get us better acquainted, here’s his recent fight against Frank Carrillo: