Morning Report: Michael ‘Venom’ Page envisions ‘absolutely massive’ Leon Edwards title fight, believes ‘we can sell out a stadium’

Michael Page is officially UFC-bound.

After years of growing his name and resume through the ranks of the Bellator welterweight division, England’s “MVP” will now test himself against the best the world has to offer. That all starts with Kevin Holland at UFC 299 in Miami, Fla., on March 9.

Arguably the biggest knock on Page’s career in Bellator was the “carefully crafted” nature of it with opponent selection by matchmaking. Often coined as the “ultimate can-crusher,” Page’s highlights stacked up rapidly regardless of fan perception or critique of who he was facing. No matter how you cut it, Page did fight some of the promotion’s best, most notably in the form of his two encounters with Douglas Lima and his bouts against Paul Daley and Goiti Yamauchi.

MVP is a big-name addition to the UFC’s 170-pound roster, especially for an outsider on their way in. At age 36, the time is now or never to make a splash, and with a Holland win, Page sees a clash with the current champion Leon Edwards as the premier fight the division can offer.

“It’s an absolutely massive fight,” Page told MMA Junkie. “It makes a statement to where the U.K. artists are at this stage of MMA in the world. The U.K. guys are doing so well. You just have to look across at Tom Aspinall doing his thing as well at heavyweight. The fact that we can get two U.K. guys to headline a main event in the U.K. is unbelievable for a belt. Like I said, unheard of. Let’s make it happen.”

UFC 299 is about as perfect of a UFC debut stage as Page could ask for. The Miami return PPV is stacking up so nicely that UFC 300 the month after is looking like a slight afterthought at present.

There’s no official bout order just yet, but thanks to Page’s aforementioned established star power, he believes he’s done enough to draw in a serviceable enough audience to prove he’s put in the work to deserve a — let’s say, faster — rise to the division’s peak.

“I think a lot of people are watching anyway, regardless of where I am on the card,” Page said. “If they put me first fight of the night, there’s still a lot of eyes, a lot of people watching, a lot of people waiting to see if I can answer that question. When I do, and if I answer it in that way, it puts me immediately at the top.

“Same when I had these meetings about coming to the UFC. They asked me, ‘What kind of fights are you looking for?’ I said, ‘I want to be at the top. I don’t want to be here a long time. I want to be here and make as much noise, have a fun time, put on some great fights, and that’s it.’ I want to be big knockout, big knockout, and let’s go for the belt. Hopefully, Leon’s still got the belt. I definitely believe that he can still have the belt. We can sell out a stadium, we can make so much noise together and sell out a stadium in the U.K. and just bring an untold story to the UFC.”

One win will be required, at least, for both Page and Edwards before a potential fight. The latter champion doesn’t have his next defense lined up, but rumors continue to swirl around his Belal Muhammad rematch at UFC 300, creating a perfect timeline for the two Brits to build to a dream bout. However, we can’t forget about the other top contender Shavkat Rakhmonov, who should have recovered from his current ankle injury around that time as well.

The Holland debut makes for an entertaining one from not only a stylistic perspective, but a verbal and mental one, too. When Holland was last tasked with a striker of similar ilk to Page, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, the two went to war for as long as they could with the friendly — unofficial — agreement not to grapple. This didn’t bode so well for Holland, as he broke his hand in the bout and ultimately lost via a fourth-round doctor’s stoppage TKO.

Should Holland attempt to make the same agreement, MVP feels it wouldn’t be his wisest choice. If he can secure the knockout win without the aid of the doctors, Page (21-2) would become the first to do so in Holland’s 36-fight career (25-10, 1 NC).

“I know for a fact Kevin Holland is not going to want to do that agreement again after the whooping that he took against Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson,” Page said. “I see myself as the faster, harder-hitting, more dangerous version of a ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. He’s definitely not going to want to do that again. I’m happy to take that deal. If he wants to shake my hand and do that, we can do that. But I don’t believe he’s going to want to. He’s going to want to utilize as much as possible to deal with me.

“Everyone said the same thing to me when I fought Derek Anderson. They said exactly the same thing: ‘Derek Anderson’s never been stopped. Are you going to be able to do that?’ And I broke his face. So that’s all I really have to say to that. I just know what I can do. Even if it goes the distance, he’s going to be a hot mess.

“Anybody that wants to try to shoot for my legs, there’s a knee that’s right there that’s just triggering, waiting for that person to do that,” he concluded. “We’ve seen the damage that I can do. So it’s up to him.”

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Sound & Pound.

Free fight.

Last year’s Buggy.

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The Jones saga.





Pulled a little sneaky at the end there.

Bad reputation.

On the daily, I’m sure.

Someone save Cowboy.

Even a frustrated GSP is still too wholesome for his own good.

Back at it.

How can you not love this guy?

“So Dan, what do you want today?” Dan: “Yes.”

Melsik Baghdasaryan (8-2) vs. Hyder Amil (8-0); UFC Vegas 86, Feb. 10

Luis Ronaldo Rodríguez (16-2) vs. Denys Bondar (19-4); UFC Mexico, Feb. 24

Daniel Zellhuber (14-1) vs. Francisco Prado (12-1); UFC Mexico, Feb. 24

Muhammad Naimov (10-2) vs. Erik Silva (9-2); UFC Mexico, Feb. 24

Cristian Quiñonez (18-4) vs. Raoni Barcelos (17-5); UFC Mexico, Feb. 24

Junior dos Santos (21-10) vs. Alan Belcher (18-8); Gamebred Bareknuckle, March 2

Robelis Despaigne (4-0) vs. Josh Parisian (15-7); UFC 299, March 9

Michel Pereira (29-11) vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk (19-6); UFC 299, March 9

MVP needs two wins at most to earn a title shot. This is Michael Chandler — just at welterweight — all over again … just far less exciting and much more flashy because MVP doesn’t have good or exciting fights. Exciting performances? Obviously. Well, the finishes, at least. Go ahead and tell me when he’s ever had a back-and-forth “good” fight, though. It hasn’t happened. Maybe Holland will be the guy. Regardless, an interesting run awaits us.

Thanks for reading!


Will Michael “Venom” Page ever challenge for UFC gold?

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also, follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

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