Last Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, Bellator 216 took place. The event was headlined by Michael ‘Venom’ Page and Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley.
Aside from serving as a first-round matchup in Bellator’s Welterweight World Grand Prix, the fight between Page and Daley was billed as one of the biggest bouts in UK MMA history. It was labeled as grudge match years in the making between two brash and outspoken British fighters who held clear disdain each other.
In addition, the fight pitted two of the promotion’s most explosive and entertaining strikers up against each other. Fireworks were supposed to go off when the two met in the cage. In the end, however, the fight failed miserably to live up to the expectations that had been set for it.
MVP vs. Daley
What many were expecting to be an electrifying back-and-forth striking contest, ironically turned out to be a five-round snooze fest.
Daley, who has complained about being matched up against wrestlers in the past and even went as far as to suggest a no-takedown clause be put in the contract for his fight against Page, looked like a shell of himself.
Throughout the fight, he found little success on the feet. Having trouble finding openings and landing his patented power shots, he shocked the masses and elected to use his wrestling. Something few saw coming. In fact, he actually landed a few takedowns and was able to control “MVP” on the canvas at various points.
As for Page, the charismatic and flashy striker was often times unable to draw Daley into his traps. Though he was able to land a few solid shots over the course of the bout, he wasn’t able to pick apart and expose ‘Semtex’ as he had done to many of his opponents in the past. Most concerning, the London-native seemed to have few answers for Daley in regards to his takedown attempts.
In the end, Page was given the nod in the form of a unanimous decision in what will be remembered as a forgettable bout. However, ‘MVP’ moves on to the next round of the tournament. But achieving the ultimate goal of winning the Bellator welterweight title will be far from easy.
The Road Ahead
Next up for Page is former champion Douglas Lima. This semi-final matchup is set to serve as the co-main event of Bellator 221 on May 11th in Rosemont, Illinois.
Lima, widely regarded as one of the top 170 pounders in the world, is no easy task for any fighter. He’s incredibly well-rounded and has won four of his last five bouts. That stretch includes victories over notable names like Daley, Andrey Koreshkov and Lorenz Larkin.
Should he best Lima, ‘MVP’ would move onto the finals where he’d meet the winner of a bout between Neiman Gracie and the winner of the upcoming bout between Rory MacDonald and Jon Fitch. Similarly to Lima, none of those options would be an easy task for ‘MVP’ to overcome.
Gracie, for example, is a world class grappler and would likely hold a major advantage over Page on the ground. Fitch, meanwhile, is a veteran of the sport and a high-level wrestler, while MacDonald, the reigning champion, is a top welterweight in any promotion with strong wrestling skills of his own. With that being said, it’s clear that Page has improvements to make in order to outlast the pack.
Improvements to Make
It’s well-documented by now that Page is not only a creative and unorthodox striker but a dangerous and efficient one. The fact that he had trouble keeping the fight standing at times against Daley, however, is concerning. Once the fight hit the canvas, it’s important to note that Page did indeed do a solid job of controlling Daley and limiting the damage he absorbed. But that may not be the case against the aforementioned competitors he’ll have to go through on his quest for gold.
Lima and MacDonald, for example, are far more well-rounded than Daley and superior fighters overall. Gracie, meanwhile, is an incredibly dangerous threat on the ground as evidenced by eight of his nine victories coming by way of submission. And Fitch, though past his prime, still has the ability to take down and control his opposition.
Now, this isn’t to say that Page has no chance of beating the opponents that lie ahead of him. Obviously, his striking is nothing to take lightly. Yet he’ll have trouble implementing his game plans if he can’t keep fights standing.
Because of that, Page should put a large emphasis on his wrestling and takedown defense over the coming months. If he doesn’t, he could be in trouble moving forward in the Grand Prix. Then again, Page could also work on his weaknesses and blend those improvements with his striking. If he were to do that, he could very well prove that the hype is real and soon be on his way to claiming Bellator gold.