When it comes to the world of mixed martial arts, one acronym has become synonymous with the sport: UFC. There's no denying that the Ultimate Fighting Championship rose to become the stand-out leader in the field, dominating the sport and its markets.
Thus, it's hard to look beyond the octopus-like reach of the leading MMA promotion. Usually when reading about MMA, the article or piece of news will go hand in hand with the UFC or one its stars (usually a certain Irishman and all of antics). However, there's so much more to the sport when you dig a little deeper.
Arguably the second biggest promoter in the world of MMA right now is Bellator. With its inception in 2008 and now under the direction of former Strikeforce head Scott Coker, the U.S.-based promotion already boasts a talented roster of fighters, including numerous UFC alumni who are or have fought under its banner. Constantly rising in stature, the promotion now has one of the sport's biggest stars on its hands ...
Michael "Venom" Page.
The 29-year-old British athlete had his start in the world of kickboxing, winning a staggering 10 world championships and over 25 British championships. After becoming disillusioned with the lack of exposure and politics involved with competition in various kickboxing promotions, Page made the switch to a career in professional combat sports.
The talented fighter made his MMA debut at UCMMA 26, beating Ben Dishman with a first-round technical knockout via tornado kick, resulting in his first but not last comparison with the great Anderson Silva. What followed was a string of impressive performances in UCMMA, Super Fight League and now Bellator. Page is yet to taste defeat in his MMA career.
Venom announced himself as a force to be reckoned with by making his debut in March 2013 at Bellator 93, knocking out Ryan Sanders in an impressive 10 seconds. With a professional record of 10-0, Page holds six knockouts, three submissions and only once went the distance in a unanimous decision over Nah-Shon Burrell at Bellator 128. A fight which drew further praise from Silva himself, as seen in the following video.
The most exciting aspect of Page is his cocky and confident exterior that exudes from him when fighting. The fighter dances around the ring, as if toying with his opposition, much like Silva. With his string of finishes, Page isn't just hype, he's the real deal.
Likening himself to a matador, Page truly puts on a show every time he enters the cage. The enigmatic athlete is diverse in his style and has the ability to wow any crowd as we truly have no idea what he will do next.
Confident in his stand-up, Page also has the ability when it comes to the ground game. With three submissions already under his belt, his most recent victory against Jeremie Holloway at Bellator 153 came via an impressive toe-hold submission. True to his nature, the welterweight star boasted in the face of Holloway as he watched his opponent tap out. Page later put this down as revenge for Holloway allegedly shouting "Look at me! Look at me! I’m going to smash you! Look at me!" as he walked to the cage.
A title shot seems inevitably in the cards for Page in Bellator's welterweight division. Following a successful title victory, it seems the only place that Page could potentially head is the bright lights of the UFC. Already leaving the world of kickboxing behind due to lack of exposure, it seems that the allure of the biggest MMA promotion in the world would be too much for the Bellator star to turn down.
The fighter reportedly has a five-fight contract with Bellator, and his last fight would herald the end of the agreement. With news yet to break about wether or not Bellator still has Page contracted to the promotion, we may see a move to the UFC sooner rather than later. Personally, I would like to see him climb to the top of the welterweight division in Bellator before making a potential switch. But we'll have to wait and see.