Three Keys for Michael Page to Beat Kevin Holland at UFC 299

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Michael “Venom” Page, also affectionately known as “MVP” to fans of the sport is officially in the UFC, and faces his first test on the big stage at UFC 299 when he takes on Kevin Holland.

If Page can beat Holland, doors could open for him. Even at 36 years old, Page checks numerous boxes for what it takes to become not only a superstar in MMA, but a drawing superstar. That said, oddsmakers are lining him as a slight underdog against the outspoken Holland. On sportsbooks like Neds, Page can be had at plus-money, so there may be a moneymaking opportunity at hand here.

Regardless, for as inconsistent as Holland has looked in the past, he has won two of his last three and will surely want to get back in the win column after falling to Jack Della Maddalena (who also fights this weekend) last fall. He is no slouch whatsoever, and given the level of competition he’s fought in the past, he may even be the rightful favorite.

That said, here are three keys to victory for “MVP” to take the next step at UFC 299.

Lean on Kickboxing

It may sound obvious for a fighter with the decorated stand-up background that Page has, but the first thing he needs to do is ensure that the entire fight – for as long as it lasts – takes place on the feet. Holland can certainly hold his own on the feet; his hand speed and knockout power has equated to several highlight-reel finishes throughout his career. However, he is at least a level behind Page on the feet, and when it comes to purely standup fights, Page has lost just once in his MMA career.

Of course, he avenged his loss to Douglas Lima by showing his evolution from a flashy standup fighter to a more well-rounded mixed martial artist who can fend off takedowns

A lot will be made about the level of competition Page has fought, especially when compared to Holland’s strength of schedule. However, Page has comparable power to Holland, as well as comparable speed and more tools he can go to if needed. He also has an advantage when it comes to striking defense. All told, MVP should have Holland covered on the feet, and there’s not even a guarantee that Holland would shoot a takedown. If he does, though, he needs to be ready to stuff it and continue to dictate the pace of the fight.

Early Leg Kicks

While Page may have Holland covered on the feet, Holland will still have opportunities. His advantages are less tied to his skills and more tied to his physical intangibles. He counters Page’s length with plenty of length of his own (especially at 170 pounds). He is also among the most durable fighters in the entire UFC, and can fight at an incredible pace for three rounds. However, those who have had some of the best moments against Holland have done so with leg kicks, and Page has shown he can fire them off effectively and successfully mix it up.

It’s a tale as old as time. If Page can find a home for the leg kicks early, he can take some of the sting out of Holland’s hands and take over the early rounds. It also helps that Holland notoriously seldom checks leg kicks.

For Page, the earlier he can implement leg kicks, the better. Though he has won three-round decisions before and looked effective doing it, given Holland’s punching volume and durability, he figures to be a deserved favorite on the decision line.

Make it Boring

As mentioned, Holland fights at a much greater pace, and all things being equal, there is always a chance the judges simply side with Holland’s volume and forward momentum. Therefore, the onus will be on Page to control the pace and make the fight as slow and technical as possible. The slower the fight, the better chance Page will have to time a fight-changing shot, and as durable as Holland has been, he has been hurt before.

If Page chooses to defer the engagement to Holland, it will better allow him to play defense and potentially shut Holland down en route to a decision. It could also enable him the time and opening to hurt Holland badly, and potentially even become the first man to finish Holland on the feet. That would be quite the statement, even if the preceding moments of the fight don’t meet the expectations of the fans.

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