No walkout music accompanied Bellator welterweight star Michael “Venom” Page to the cage at Bellator 258. He was there for business, and with no fans present, nothing else.
Page entertained instead with his performance, another highlight-reel knockout in a fight against grizzled vet Derek Anderson.
Then he prepared himself for the usual criticism.
“Because of how I do things with ease, I think he’s now just become a can, but not because he’s not an amazing fighter, not because he’s a tough MMA fighter, but because of how I make people look when I’m in there,” Page told reporters after the event on Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena. “And I’ve kind of accepted that. But I’m on a mission for one person, and that’s Douglas Lima.”
Ever since Page walked into the Bellator cage and started winning, he’s been targeted for a lack of seasoned opposition, and a knockout loss to the welterweight champ two years ago burst his hype bubble. But he figures a rematch win will prove he’s as good as he says he is, and now, he’s got some help to get there.
Friday’s nose-breaking win might have been Page’s best argument for another shot at Lima. But as he pointed out, there’s now an indisputable proof he deserves a title shot in Bellator’s new rankings system.
Lima is scheduled to take on No. 1 ranked Yaroslov Amosov, who initially was No. 2 below Page before being promoted to the top spot in the second iteration of the promotion’s best-of list. So whatever happens in that fight, which takes place next month at Bellator 260, Page should be in pole position.
“It should be the next fight … and where I’m placed on the ranking system, regardless of anybody’s opinion, that’s where I am,” he said. “I was No. 1. Now I’m No. 2, and the champion’s fighting. Technically, I should go up now, so whoever loses that fight, I’m now the No. 1 ranked fighter, which means I deserve a title fight.”
As it turned out, the feedback from his win was largely positive. Whether that was because of the highlight-reel finish or the rankings was up for debate. But for him, it didn’t really matter as long as it got him to Lima.
“In all honestly, I’ve been doing this for a while,” Page said. “Some of the guys I’ve fought are amazing fighters, but just my style changes how it looks.”