Michael “Venom” Page is ready to introduce himself to the world of mixed martial arts.
“I’m going to make a lot of people believers,” said Page. “People don’t believe in my style, or think I haven’t been challenged yet, which is all fine, but there is going to be a few changed minds when I literally start, one by one, taking out all the heavy hitters. It does not bother me who’s at top at all. The belt can change before I get there, it can be a hot potato, but it won’t be when I get there.”
Known as “MVP,” the 28-year-old Page is articulate, intelligent, and extremely talented inside the cage. He is undefeated (9-0) in his three years of competing in MMA, and plans on becoming the face of Bellator.
Page is not daunted by the 18-1 record of current Bellator welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov.
“His record is not intimidating at all,” said Page. “I don’t care for records, to be honest. All I’m trying to do is build my MMA experience. Records really don’t mean anything. In a fight, it’s all about the match-up and experience.”
Even the credentials of UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler do not dampen his spirits.
“When I was younger fighter, before I got my black belt in kickboxing, I had a fight with someone who had his black belt,” said Page. “The fact that he was wearing a black belt didn’t intimidate me or change the way I felt about the fight. It’s the same thing with records. Records don’t mean anything to me. I’m just used to going in there and doing me.”
Page is a native of London, England, and his British accent is noticeable from the moment he speaks. He is remarkably charismatic, even during his fights, and that is a trait picked up, Page admitted, from years of watching Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
“I’ve learned a lot from Dwayne Johnson’s career,” said Page. “I love how he works a crowd, and I’m a really supporter of him and how he’s handled his career.”
Page’s fights have been so dominant that critics have lamented that he has not fought enough top competitors. Yet it’s hard to argue with the results–eight of his nine fights have ended in the first round. Viewers are encouraged not to blink during a Page bout, as his fights last an average of two minutes and 41 seconds.
“I could go my whole career winning in the first round and I wouldn’t complain at all,” explained Page. “For one, you don’t get paid for the extra time. Two, I spend hours, hours, and hours in the cage getting thrown around, beaten up, slammed, and taken down. I do all that hard work so I don’t have to do that again in the cage. If I continue winning in the fashion I’m winning, I’ll be happy.”
While Page has only nine MMA fights on his resume, he started kickboxing at the age of three and considers himself one of the most experienced fighters in the world.
“I’ve been fighting since the age of five,” Page explained. “It’s something I did with my family, and I’ve always enjoyed it. The reason I crossed over to MMA is to be able to make a living from it. Kickboxing wasn’t a big enough platform, so I decided to crossover.”
Page is one of nine children, and his family’s dedication to competition is a major component in his success as a fighter.
“This is all I knew,” said Page. “I associated it as something I’d do with my family. I never saw the training as a chore or hard work, I viewed it as something fun and that I loved to do with my family.”
Page, who now lives in Florida and watches as many Miami Heat games as possible, once fielded offers to play collegiate basketball in the United States. He is also a noted soccer and cricket player, and even trained for slalom skiing in the Olympics (“I tend to pick things up very quickly,” Page admitted). Ultimately, he connected with Bellator.
“I’m lucky enough to be in such an amazing show,” said Page. “Bellator has helped me in so many different ways. They’re also growing themselves, and they’re only going to get bigger and stronger, so I’m happy to be with them.”
Page’s fighting experience provides him with an edge that, he maintains, is both physical and mental.
“I don’t feel pressure,” said Page. “My experience makes me feel at home. I’m so familiar with it, I feel like I’m still in the training session. Having competition experience really helps when you’re placed in the spotlight.”
Ultimately, Page explained, there is only one goal to accomplish in MMA.
“I want to be the greatest fighter in the world,” he said. “I don’t look at any one particular person as the greatest. I’m only focused on myself.”
Page is so focused on achieving his goal, he does not appreciate the idea of being boxed into one division.
“I don’t care for the welterweight division,” said Page. “I like to watch different people’s styles. One person I’m fascinated by right now is [Bellator light heavyweight world champion] Liam McGeary. He’s not in my weight division, but he’s just got a style, and I want to know how he does what he does. Anybody can inspire me, and you can learn from absolute anybody–it doesn’t need to be someone massively established. I watch some of our junior guys, and when I say junior, they’re 19-20, and they’re coming up with some really creative stuff that’s making me take notes from that.”
The ambitious Page also lists winning championships among his coming attractions.
“It’s definitely a goal of mine,” said Page. “In order to be the greatest, you have to wear that gold around your waist. I’m going to continue to take my career one fight at a time, continuously win, and it will come.”
Page’s future goals will only be met if continues to improve his jiu-itsu.
“I’m picking up things very quickly, but I want to be as strong on the floor as I am standing up,” said Page. “I’m happy with where it is at the moment, but I want to get it as close to my stand-up style as possible.”
Bellator is optimistic that Page will help grow into a mainstream MMA star, but “MVP” is not letting anyone else’s opinion manipulate or alter his mindset.
“I don’t read too much into anything,” said Page. “I can brush off negative comments and it works the same with the positive ones. You take it and appreciate it, but then you have to get back to work. I enjoy being a student, and that’s what keeps me humble. When I finish a fight, I want to find ways to be better and more creative. My teammates continue to keep me humble, and I don’t see myself changing.”
A lifelong fighter, Page looks for inspiration in every walk of life. His fighting has improved, Page explained, thanks to his salsa dancing.
“Oh man, I love salsa,” said a laughing Page. “I wouldn’t say I’m incredible at the moment, but I’m OK. I love watching people’s footsteps, and it’s a crossover from martial arts with its free-flowing movements. Body movements help you with amazing attacks, and it’s helped me become more open-minded in martial arts.”
Page has won both of his fights in 2015, but he is anxious for one more before the year’s end. Bellator will be involved with the upcoming New Year’s Eve MMA extravaganza airing on Spike TV, and there is potential that Page will be added to the card.
“I am pushing to get one more fight by the end of the year,” said Page. “My goal was to have three fights, which means I need to get one in very soon, I’d love it.”
Page admitted there remains a considerable amount left to learn, but he is chock full of confidence that he will be the man to conquer every goal he sets in MMA.
“I need to better in so many different areas,” said Page. “I haven’t experienced the grappling and the wrestling for that long, so that’s primarily where I need to be focused and improve, but I’m proud of where I’ve come in the space and time that I have. Even my stand-up has improved since I joined the MMA.
“If I can get those to the level of my standup, then that will cancel out anybody standing in my way.”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.