On Saturday night, the Bellator MMA cage will return to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Featuring a stacked card, Bellator 216 will be broadcasted live on DAZN in the US and live on Sky Sports in the UK.
And while the card features a plethora of intriguing fights, all eyes will be fixated on the main event, which features a welterweight grudge match years in the making.
But it’s not just an ordinary grudge match that has drawn the attention of the masses. In fact, this fight could arguably be considered to be one of the biggest in the promotion’s history. In addition, many have labeled it as the most important fight in the history of UK MMA.
So, who are the combatants carrying the weight of such a massive fight on their shoulders?
Well, in one corner we have the brash and outspoken Michael “Venom” Page, a flashy striker hailing from London, England. And in the other corner, we have the legendary Paul “Semtex” Daley, a knockout artist born and raised in Nottingham, England.
From the outside looking in, this fight is intriguing for many reasons. From the backstory to the clash of styles, fireworks are almost guaranteed to go off once the cage door is finally closed.
And with the fight now just days away, there’s no better time to take a deeper look into how we got here and what’s at stake.
Michael “Venom” Page
Coming from a background in both traditional martial arts and kickboxing, the man known as “MVP” has consistently drawn in audiences with his flashy and unorthodox style of striking.
Oozing confidence inside of the cage, the 31-year-old often fights with his hands down, using a unique style of movement paired with pinpoint accuracy.
With professional boxing experience, the London native is skilled with his hands. Though he’s perhaps best known for the wide array of creative kicks and knees he throws.
And despite the fact that he consistently takes risks and rarely shows any regard for the skill set of his opponents, Page has seen quite a bit of success inside the Bellator cage. Since making his promotional debut in 2014, “Venom” has won eight straight fights with all but two of them ending in stoppage victories.
Most recently, he was seen scoring a one-sided TKO victory over David Rickels at Bellator 200 in May 2018. That win extended his professional record to a perfect 13-0.
If there is one criticism that’s been made against the always entertaining Page, however, it’s that he hasn’t exactly faced top level competition. But on Saturday night, that will change.
Paul “Semtex” Daley
Like Page, Daley is also one of the most recognizable fighters on the Bellator roster and he too is known primarily for his striking skills.
Despite being less flashy and far more orthodox than “MVP”, Daley is undoubtedly a world class striker. Coming from a background in both karate and Muay Thai, “Semtex” has not only seen success in mixed martial arts but in kickboxing as well.
One glaring advantage that Daley does indeed possess over Page, however, is his experience and the caliber of competition he’s faced. In kickboxing, the 35-year-old owns a 21-3 record with 14 victories coming by way of T/KO.
And in regards to MMA, the Nottingham native is a veteran of 58 professional fights, owning a 40-16-2 record. He’s competed in the UFC, Strikeforce, and Bellator and has shared the cage with some of the best welterweights the sport has ever seen.
Most recently, “Semtex” has hit a bit of a rough patch, losing three of his last five bouts. However, he remains a dangerous opponent given the power in his hands and his ability to mix it up on the feet. In addition, he’ll without question represent the best opponent Page has faced to date.
How We Got Here
As previously mentioned, this is a fight a few years in the making, as the two Englishman have quite a history of bad blood between them.
Over the last few years, the two have often gone back-and-forth in the media, trading barbs and insults. Multiple times, both men expressed some sort of interest in the bout, but for one reason or another, it never seemed to come to fruition.
For example, Page claimed that he accepted an offer to step in as a late replacement to fight Daley in 2016 per Metro.co.uk. Then, Page expressed interest in doing battle with “Semtex” at Bellator 179 in London, but he once again claimed that Daley turned down the bout.
Instead, Daley took on Rory MacDonald at the event. Following a submission loss, Daley exited the cage and attempted to confront Page, who was in attendance, once again igniting the rivalry between the two combatants.
Daley then defeated Lorenz Larkin at Bellator 183 and immediately called out “MVP” in his post-fight speech.
Through all of this, the two have always made their disdain for each other evident. Despite the long and winding road it took to get to this point, the rivalry between Page and Daley has always remained alive and well.
What’s at Stake
While there were points where it seemed as if the fight would never take place, the moment is now almost here.
Essentially, a homegrown Bellator rivalry is set to reach its boiling point and a ton is at stake for both Page and Daley.
First off, this fight will serve as a quarterfinal matchup in the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix, meaning that both men will be looking to advance and earn a shot at the 170-pound title.
For Daley, this could be one of his last chances to challenge for gold given his age and the stacked nature of Bellator’s welterweight division.
And for Page, this fight gives him a chance to silence those who have criticized the level of competition he’s faced. A win over “Semtex” would add a marquee name to his resume and put him one step closer towards competing for a championship.
And while earning a shot to fight for the title is likely a primary goal for both men, it seems as if this fight is bigger than that.
There’s emotion, bad blood and the battle of two countrymen. Simply put, it’s not only a fight that neither man wants to lose but a fight that both men want to win so badly.
And now, the time for talk is over.
Page and Daley will meet inside the Bellator cage to put it all on the line and the score will finally be settled.
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