Bad things happen when 27-year-old English phenom Michael “Venom” Page (aka MVP) senses weakness in his opponents. He takes advantage of it like a sniper with a wide open shot. Laser beam precision flies forth from his limbs like he’s playing darts, picking his opponent apart in such fashion as they can become humiliated and demoralized. It sounds like fiction. It’s not.
I first became familiar with Page watching from press row at Bellator 120 in Memphis last May and saw him pick apart Ricky Rainey, who had found good success in the XFC organization. I’ve seen a lot of fights, but I couldn’t and still can’t recall seeing anyone do what Michael Page did in the cage that night.
Page tells us he wants to become the Michael Jordan of MMA, he wants to be known like that. At 8-0 with seven finishes, the former kickboxing world champion is off to a superb start. But more than his record, is what he does, how he performs. And if you see it once, you will not forget it. Page returns to action on Feb. 27th when he faces unbeaten Curtis Millender at Bellator 134 in Uncasville, Conn. live on Spike TV.
PMN: Hi Michael, thanks for chatting with us at PMN. What do you know about your upcoming opponent Curtis Millender, and how do you see yourself matching up with him?
MVP: Curtis Millender, I know enough about him to know what I have to do to win the fight which is the most important thing. I feel the match-up on paper looks good because of our similar styles, height and obviously our records, which are identical. So on paper it looks even, but I don’t think it will be the same in practice. I’m going to do what I do best which is to go out there and win the fight.
PMN: Some have labelled this fight as a mismatch and see you running right through Millender, what do you think?
MVP: I don’t believe this is a mismatch at all. He isn’t that well exposed and he doesn’t have that high a profile, but at the same time, anyone with a zero on their record deserves respect. We have taken different routes, this being his first fight in Bellator, but the fact is we have the same record. I always say this, but my style can often make other people’s performances not look as good/effective even though they actually have strong fighting ability. This could again definitely happen in this next fight but I have to give him the respect that he deserves.
PMN: I was there when you beat Ricky Rainey just outside Memphis in at Bellator 120. I had seen Rainey fight before and he is no slouch by any means. But you were toying with him. Where does that confidence come from – was there something that you saw specifically in that fight where you knew you had his number?
MVP: To be fair, as the fight goes on, the more and more you swing and don’t hit me, the more and more confident I get. I feel I’ve got your distance, I understand you’re swinging and missing, so it gives me more and more confidence about what I can do. You can’t see confidence, fighters feel it. Take a fight where both opponents are absolutely knackered: the second one opponent gets a blow to the head and wobbles, their opponent will suddenly find a massive amount of energy that he didn’t think he had two seconds ago. The more signs of tiredness and weakness I see, the more confidence I gain. During the fight as I gain more confidence, my opponent becomes more demoralized.
PMN: Those ‘look away’ strikes you throw – where do they come from?
MVP: Those sorts of things tend to happen during the fight when I gain an increase in confidence. I would never start a fight using moves like these because the outcome would be extremely different – probably me waking up from the floor. I have to be confident in my judgement – in terms of distance and I also need to make sure my opponent is taking a more passive approach and almost just trying to be a deterrent. Although most expect the outcome to be straightforward – If I’m not looking at my opponent they will hit me in the head – but I’m looking at my opponent, many may be wary that I’m setting them up for something. In the end it makes them concerned to throw to many punches, and they begin to throw half-heartedly. I assess the round and work out what I’m able to do and when to do it.
PMN: What do you say to those people who think you’re being cocky or disrespectful to your opponents?
MVP: Take it however you want to take it – it’s never going to change.
PMN: What’s the ‘end game’ for Michael Page – what would you ultimately like to achieve in this sport?
MVP: I want to be known, and it’s always been the same thing, I want to be known like Michael Jordan is for Basketball, David Beckham for football. Basically I want to be that person that everyone knows within my sport. I want to be the face of the sport. Those who don’t necessarily have a real interest in the sport will know who Michael Page is and what he does.
Take America for example. A number of years ago, many of them would not have had an interest in ‘soccer’ but they would still have known who David Beckham was and that he was a football player. I want to be the face of MMA and it’s as simple as that. I want to showcase my talent to the masses, and because I’m so unorthodox and so entertaining, people will show their mums who have no interest in fighting and they will still enjoy what they have seen. “The Michael Page Legacy”.
PMN: Who have been your influences as a striker and who in MMA do you enjoy watching fight?
MVP: My main influence in MMA is 100% Paul and Alexis, my two main coaches. They are so knowledgeable and they were able to look at my style and work with it, instead of changing it to a more orthodox style. For example, they looked at my ‘hands down’ approach and did not instruct me to put my hands up. They looked at me and said, you seem to be so confident with your distance, and they saw the positives. They helped me transfer that style to the cage in a safe way. What they have built in London street fighters and with my training partners has been a massive influence. If I didn’t have the training partners that I have then I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am in the cage.
I am a person who enjoys watching absolutely everybody because I feel everybody has got something special and unique that they are really good at. Ronda Rousey is known for the way she seems to catch arm bars from absolutely everywhere. Now, someone like that, I might only watch her to see how she sets up things like that. She is great at a lot of other things but that’s what she is well known for.
This is what I am saying; everyone has their own unique traits and skills that they offer to the sport. I just enjoy watching martial arts full stop. It helps me be more creative in what I like to do and I always ask the question, what can I take from other people that I could use effectively in my tool bag? Expect the unexpected with me.
PMN: Are you surprised at all the fighters getting busted for PED/steroid use and what are your views on the subject?
MVP: I’d say I’m slightly surprised, I mean you kind of hear bits and pieces when you’re in the industry. I understand people like to party etc. and when you reach high levels you start to hang around with the entertainment crowd – shall I say – and people can be very easily swayed. For me, that would get in the way of my goal because if I was to slip up with something like that, I will basically have wasted everybody’s time with regards to moving forward and becoming that face. No one wants to be associated with someone who uses drugs. It is something that I personally do not agree with and I am shocked at the amount of people who have been caught out for it.
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