Michael ‘Venom’ Page is up against it this weekend.
The flashy striker from London has become the victim of his own success in his mixed martial arts career so far, which has been packed with a string of spectacular wins with the sort of moves you’d usually only see in a video game.
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) July 17, 2015
In his last outing, Page defeated longtime rival Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley in a fight the mixed martial arts world – particularly in the UK – had been clamouring for for years.
Page won to extend his perfect professional record to 14-0. But mixed martial arts – perhaps more than any other sport – suffers from what I call ‘Janet Jackson syndrome’. That is, the “What have you done for me lately” attitude of the fans.
Page has looked nothing short of brilliant in most of his contests, but against Daley, the bout just didn’t live up to the hype. It was dour, gritty, unspectacular… even boring at times.
In short, it wasn’t a Michael ‘Venom’ Page fight (in truth, it wasn’t a Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley fight, either).
Now Page faces former world champion Douglas Lima in the semi-finals of the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix tournament, where he is set to experience something he’s never experienced before in his MMA career – being the underdog.
Page has been listed as a 15/8 underdog heading into this weekend’s bout at Bellator 221. But is he the betting underdog because the American fans are writing him off?
In short, no. It’s because his opponent is one of the very best welterweights on the planet.
The 31-year-old Brazilian Lima has a record of 30-7, with 25 finishes to his name. Perhaps more worryingly for Page backers is the fact that he’s only been stopped with strikes once, way back in his sixth career fight in 2007.
He’s lost just three times since the summer of 2009, with all three defeats coming on the scorecards to world-champion opposition: Ben Askren, Andrey Koreshkov and Rory MacDonald.
In short, Page has a mountain to climb and will need to pull another video-game move from his arsenal to cause a shock on Saturday night.
If anyone can produce something out of the ordinary, it’s ‘MVP’ but, in a fight against a man who hasn’t been finished with strikes in over a decade, the smart money has to go with the more seasoned, more aggressive, more battle-tested man.
And, unless he can produce another eye-popping knockout out of nowhere, that means Page will experience something else he’s never had to deal with in his pro career before – a defeat.