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What Took So Long?: The Confusing Rise Of Michael ‘Venom’ Page:

They’re calling Bellator 216’s headliner the biggest fight in the history of British MMA and to be honest, they’re not too far off with that estimation.

At the very least, it’s a pairing of two of the most electric fighters to ever come out of England in a matchup that will answer so many of the questions that have plagued MMA fans for the last few years.

A showdown of two of the finest Englishmen in the game, a landmark event for both British and European MMA, and for some preposterous reason, it’s going to take place in Connecticut.

Connecticut!?

Well, there’s no helping that now, so let’s break down the fight.

Paul Daley is one of MMA’s most feared knockout artists, with a patented left-hook in his arsenal that could flatten most heavyweights. The man is as explosive as they come and over the course of his 58-fight career, 30 of his 40 wins have come by way of knockout.

Over the years he has been in there with some of the greatest welterweights to ever do it including Nick Diaz, Rory MacDonald, Tyron Woodley, Jorge Masvidal, Josh Koscheck, and Jake Shields. The question now, is whether he can still produce after a long, and brutal career that has seen him engage in quite a few vicious wars.

To be honest, it does look like he’s just as dangerous as ever and for the most part, the losses he has sustained have only come against those who exploited his Achilles heel in the grappling department.

Michael ‘Venom’ Page is not going to take that route.

Bursting onto the scene over five years ago as one of MMA’s biggest viral sensations, the fact that MVP hasn’t taken this step up in competition prior to now was something of a worry in the eyes of most.

Whether it was simply circumstantial or a genuinely thought-out effort to allow him to grow accustomed to the more multi-faceted world of MMA, this elite and unorthodox kickboxer does finally appear ready to get in there with the big dogs.

I think there’s a lot to be said about the fact that it didn’t happen sooner, though.

For those who haven’t watched Page, his movement and striking style is something more akin to a video game than anything you would expect to see in an actual fight.

It’s not a stretch to say that MVP owns some of the most extraordinary KO’s in the history of mixed martial arts but for the life of me I cannot understand why he has elected to take the long route towards fighting a guy, in Daley, who admittedly isn’t even of that upper-echelon at 170lbs right now.

But even still, he is by far and away the best fighter Page has fought to date.

This is an incredibly interesting contest. Not only because these guys are countrymen who completely and utterly despite each other, but also because we are about to become privy to a well-kept secret one way or another.

By the time Monday morning has come, I’d wager we’ll know exactly how good Michael ‘Venom’ Page is.

In ‘Semtex’ Daley, you have a genuinely high-class striker whose problems to date that all come from facing those who would elect to grapple with him.

Do not expect Page to shoot for a double-leg in this one, folks.

I can’t say with any certainty that I know how this fight is going to look. There are too many unknowns in the fact that MVP has never faced someone with the experience, power, or striking pedigree of Daley.

After such a long and drawn-out road to the top, the questions have been piling up and in all honesty, I’m as confused as anyone as to why Page was off fighting cans in pro-boxing under David Haye’s Hayemaker Ringstar when he had all of the makings of a superstar in mixed martial arts.

If you are on a supposed path to greatness in MMA, why take a year-and-a-half off to rack up two meaningless wins in the boxing ring?

Maybe it was money. Maybe it wasn’t.

Maybe he goes out there and puts on a tour-de-force performance in creative striking, one that confirms everything we could have ever imagined about his potential in MMA.

But if he does, it just makes his road to the top that bit more confusing.

When Bellator are throwing their super-prospect Aaron Pico to the sharks straight off the bat in his young MMA career, why save the 13-0 MVP for later?

I wish I had an answer to that question.

Thankfully, we’re getting one, live at Bellator 216 tonight.

Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena

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Author: Cillian Cunningham

Lead mixed martial arts writer who can be contacted at [email protected]