4 days ago | 84
MICHAEL 'Venom' Page is an enigma - he has always done things his way.
From early comparisons to mixed martial arts legend Anderson Silva, to his flamboyant, eye-catching kickboxing style; from his elaborate ring walks, to his taunting of opponents.
On Friday, Page will walk out at Wembley Arena for arguably the biggest fight of his career when he faces Logan Storley for the interim welterweight title at Bellator 281 in London.
Should Page win he will follow Michael Bisping, who won UFC middleweight gold in 2016, and Liam McGeary, who became Bellator light-heavyweight champion one year prior, in becoming only the third British MMA champion in a major promotion.
But when the 35-year-old Briton was asked if he would tone down any aspects of his character with the stakes being so high, his answer was an emphatic "no".
"For me, I say the stakes are the same. The belt is the cherry on top, so why would I change anything for the cherry?" Page told BBC Sport.
"If the cherry drops off, the cake is still amazing, so every time I've got that cake, it's based on me being myself. I'm always going to be me."
For Page, the cake represents his love of fighting - something which reminds him of his family and upbringing.
It's not an exaggeration in suggesting Page was born into martial arts, as both his late father and mother are martial artists as well as many of his nine siblings.
"Oh man, I think this is why I'm so drawn to martial arts - I reminisce on family time. Any time I was doing martial arts I was around family," said Page.
"I know some families clash heads, but we had that release. We could spar with each other so you always have a certain level of respect for each other. We get on like a house on fire - it's great to have."
Page says the freedom to express himself, both inside and outside the cage, is fundamental to the success he has enjoyed in a career which involves 20 wins and just one defeat.
"For me it is massively important, for other people sometimes it is important to be angry," said Page.
"Some people have to have a certain schedule beforehand, but I'm very wayward. I can be playing PlayStation, DJing, playing music, dancing, singing and then go and fight.
"You have to learn about and understand yourself, which can be difficult. But once you identify those things you've got to create that environment."
The interim title bout with Storley was set up after reigning champion Yaroslav Amosov was forced to pull out.
Ukraine's Amosov, who has won all 26 of his professional fights, opted to stay at home to defend his country from the ongoing invasion by Russia.
America's Storley comes into the bout on a two-fight winning streak following defeat by Amosov in 2020.
Like Amosov, the 29-year-old has a decorated wrestling background which is in contrast to Page's kickboxing past.
Despite the difference in styles, Page is not concerned.
"He's going to try and make the fight a bit slower, a bit uglier, but I can still cause a lot of damage in that time and I'll still find that win," said Page.
"He's an exceptional wrestler. There's certain people that are one dimensional and that dimension is so good, even though you know what they're going to do, it's hard to stop. But it's the same with my striking.
"I can say I know he's going to shoot for my legs but he's damn good at it so I need to be on point."
In the co-main event, Britain's Fabian Edwards takes on MMA veteran Lyoto Machida at middleweight.
Edwards, 29, is looking to halt a two-fight losing streak against Brazil's Machida, 43, who is a former UFC light-heavyweight champion with 37 fights to his name.
Edwards has promised to beat Machida and says the feeling around facing a legend of the sport like that will only sink in afterwards.
On the undercard, Britain's Paul Daley faces Brazilian Wendell Giacomo in what is thought to be Daley's final bout.
Daley, 39, has amassed 63 fights over his 19-year career, winning 43 with some spectacular knockouts along the way.
He has said the Giacomo bout will be his final outing in Bellator, but has not ruled out fighting under other formats.
- May. 13, 2022 @ 11:20 GMT | A I.
No comments yet. Be the first to post comment.