[CW: The following article includes descriptions of domestic violence and reference to suicide]
Danielle Nickerson, 28, filed for divorce from UFC welterweight Mike Perry earlier this year. The pair were married in 2019 and had been dating since 2015.
Today MMA Junkie released a lengthy interview with Nickerson where she described multiple incidents of domestic abuse that she says happened during her relationship with Perry.
In addition to publishing a video of the interview MMA Junkie released audio recordings of two separate calls to police regarding Perry.
The entire interview, and 911 calls, can be watched and listened to here.
In her interview with MMA Junkie Nickerson said was physically assaulted by Perry “a handful of times” with the most harrowing experience occurring on February 10.
On that day Nickerson said that Perry “ground-and-pounded” her inside their home after a night out in Orlando. She said the abuse didn’t stop until Perry grew tired. Nickerson said that after this she fled to a neighbour’s house and was later picked up by Perry’s mother, Sabra Young. Young then called 911.
In the call Young tells a dispatcher that her son was violent and causing her to fear for her life.
Nickerson told MMA Junkie that she felt she could have been killed had she not run from the house that night. Nickerson shared images with MMA Junkie, which she said showed injuries she sustained during this incident.
Weeks later Nickerson said she had a verbal confrontation with Perry inside a strip club in Orlando. After the argument Nickerson said she intended to stay at a friends house, but first wanted to retrieve some items from the home she shared with Perry.
At that home, Nickerson called a police non-emergency line and asked for an escort.
“I was like, if he goes back to the house, I’m not having Round 2 of (what happened Feb. 10). This is clearly unfixable at this point. … I can’t die for him to live.”
On the call Nikerson tells police that she is “in a potential domestic violence situation” and that she did not want to be alone. According to Nickerson there was no further incidents with Perry after this point.
The next morning Nickerson filed for divorce. She also filed for a protective order against Perry.
In July her protective order was denied by a judge who ruled that “general relationship problems and uncivil behavior are not domestic violence.”
Nickerson said that, though Perry had a temper for as long as she had known him, she didn’t consider him dangerous until around 2019 and specifically after Perry suffered a TKO loss to Geoff Neal at UFC 245 in December of that year.
Nickerson reported that immediately after the Neal loss Perry appeared confused and erratic.
“He just had no idea [that he had just fought and lost] and was getting so upset that he didn’t know and was insisting that we were about to go out (to fight) again. Like, ‘We’re about to go out, right? We’re about to walk out. That didn’t just happen. That wasn’t me.’ He kept saying, ‘That wasn’t me. That wasn’t me. I didn’t even do that. I don’t know what happened. That wasn’t me. You can’t tell me I just went out there and got knocked out. I didn’t do that.’ He was insistent on it.”
Nickerson speculated that Perry had sustained a lot of head trauma during his fighting career, but that until the Neal fight he had never been knocked out.
“Once that happened, it was like a light switch changed. And that was scary.”
Nickerson said she was hesitant to report Perry on February 10 because of what she claimed Perry said after the Neal fight.
“First and foremost, he was my husband. We were married, and I never ever wanted to do anything to hurt him. His mom did call the cops that night, and I was like, ‘I’m not talking to them. I’m not telling them anything.’ Because this person is already spiraling. Ruining his life isn’t going to do anything. I don’t want him to kill himself. After the fight with Geoff Neal, he had said that in the back, talked about killing himself. And I was (thinking) I cannot contribute to that. That can’t be on my conscience. I’m not reporting him.”
Nickerson also said she held details back during her protective order application for fear that Perry might have his contract with the UFC canceled and that he might harm himself as a result.
With MMA Junkie Nickerson re-iterated that she did not want her testimony to lead to Perry being removed from the UFC roster. She said her reasons for telling her story were not about punishing Perry or costing him any opportunities. Instead, she said, she wanted to tell her story to help survivors of domestic abuse and encourage changes in the MMA industry.
“This is for helping others,” said Nickerson. “This is for getting the word out there about what you can do to help people in a domestic violence situation and the warning signs and how to not get this deep into something. Hopefully this will be something that pushes the UFC into doing more checks on their heads and brain damage and really taking care of them physically.”
Nickerson is currently working with BetterHelp.com, a service that provides virtual therapy for survivors of domestic violence. She has also created a private Instagram page for women who have suffered or are suffering from an abusive relationship.
In a message to survivors, Nickerson told MMA Junkie the following:
“You feel like you’re going to let everyone down. You feel like you failed at this relationship for whatever (reason), but there is a point that you just have to draw a line in the sand, and you can’t sacrifice your life for somebody else’s in that sense, literally, where you could almost die. That is not OK. No one will ever blame you for that.”
In 2020 Perry has fought once for the UFC, against Mickey Gall, at UFC on ESPN: Poirier vs. Hooker in June. A month later Perry was involved in an incident at a restaurant in Texas where he is alleged to have struck at least three people.
In response to this incident, some of which was captured on camera, the UFC announced that they would not book Perry until he completed professional treatment for substance abuse and anger management.
Bloody Elbow has reached out to the UFC, who have scheduled Perry to face Robbie Lawler on November 21, for comment regarding this story. At this time or writing no response has been received.
Bloody Elbow has also reached to Perry’s representatives at First Round Management for a comment. At this time or writing no response has been received.
Yesterday Perry released a comment on twitter regarding MMA Junkie’s story. It read:
“It’s come to my attention that a media organization will be running a story in reference to a past issue with my ex wife. I would like to address this here and now. First and foremost I did not put my hands on my ex at any point in our short term marriage. Secondly, I have already admitted to having an issue with alcohol and I have been a part of an intensive rehab program that was able to help address not only that but also helped me with anger management. After the completion of the course I have realized that I have said some things in the past that do not put me and what I stand for in the best of light and for that I apologize. I am now in a loving relationship where I am looking forward and excited to welcoming my first born. I’m hopeful my ex can move on and find peace as I have.”