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Michael ‘Venom’ Page wants to continue kicking some serious aesthetics


UNCASVILLE, Conn. – In Michael Page’s short mixed martial arts career, he’s crept into an exotic "must see" space by simply being who he is. And right now who he is is a long, undulating sniper who handles the range between him and his opponent like an artist handles the space between the canvas and his fingertips with his brush.

As he gets set to fight for a third consecutive time at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, the bogeyman of the London Shootfighters gym says he’s not feeling any additional pressure to turn his opponent Jeremie Holloway into another highlight reel.

"Not at all, and the reason I say no is because it doesn’t feel like I’m having to try to do anything," Page told MMA Fighting at the Bellator 153 media day. "That is literally me. All I’m ever trying to do is be the best me, and it’s usually just as entertaining if not more entertaining than the last time. If I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing in the gym and improving, it just gets better and better every time."

The 29-year-old Michael "Venom" Page — better known as "MVP" — has faced a series of fighters that the average fan wouldn’t really know. It’s a gradual build for a guy who crossed over from kickboxing who has ready-made, showroom stuff. So far, only Nah-Shon Burrell has forced him to the scorecards. The eight guys he’s faced otherwise have been put away quick, mostly via a ridiculous sequence leading to a knockout. All fell in the first round, including Charlie Ontiveros, whom he faced in his last fight.

Page knows that so far he’s been booked into fights that will showcase his prowess. In fact, in his gentleman’s way, he’s remarkably thoughtful about it.

"There are so many fighters in the U.K. that are my record now would only just be coming over here," he said. "So I just feel like I’ve been under a magnifying glass because I got to the big stage so early, people are already pushing me just to do this and do that. I feel like now is the right time to start making the steps that people have been calling for for ages.

"But, if you were standing next to me from my development, you’d see that things take time. The adjustment from the sport that I came from is a big difference, and I need to learn a lot. I could have been that guy who tried to fast track myself and see how many people I could go through before I would be figured out and have to correct myself anyway. So, I think this is the best way to do it."

It’s odd, because Page speaks this way not too far from the guy he’ll be facing tonight in the round cage, the 31-year-old Holloway, a relative newcomer to the mixed techniques himself. He’s only been a pro fighter for a year-and-a-half, and in that time has gone 7-1. He lost his Bellator debut against Matt Secor (second-round submission).

In a set-up like this, Holloway is in a thinly veiled position. He’s the next guy in line booked to get styled on by MVP on Spike TV.

Or so it would seem.

Talking to Holloway, a North Carolina fighter with a soft-spoken solemnity to him, you’d think that he was the first guy Page has faced that isn’t a can.

"I’ve looked at his last five opponents," Holloway said. "He’s 5-0 in Bellator. The only one that stands out to me was Ricky Rainey, and if you look at that fight, Ricky Rainey didn’t look like he was 100 percent. His last opponent: 6-3, with three knockouts. Before the he fought Rudy Bears, 16-14. His only true test was Nah-Shon Burrell, who was 10-4 and he took him three rounds. And, outside of the first round, Page looked like he was trying to survive."

Holloway has studied Page. He says he’s mined a few things from Page’s opposition, even if for the most part they were inferior fighters.

"I saw a fight last year he had last year, I think it was WAKO British Kickboxing Open, and the guy he was fighting clearly had no business being there, but he showed some things that exposed him," he said. "I plan on using those same things Friday night."

Page and Holloway had a pretty good stare-down on Thursday. And these types of fights can be fun in the dire "so much to lose" versus opportunistic "nothing to lose" setting. Page, the phenom, is expected to vex Holloway with movement and showboat theatrics before putting him away. Holloway, thrust into a prime time slot as a spoiler, defiant of the hype.

In fact, he seems almost amused by the MVP hype.

"To be honest, my uncle taught that same style of karate growing up as a kid," Holloway said. "I grew up dealing with his kids and dealing with his style. As far as his showiness, I think it’s more of a mental tactic to throw his opponents off, because they’ve never seen it in a live fight unless it’s Anderson Silva. I’m not taking anything away from his ability, but to me, I don’t believe it. To me, it’s smoke and mirrors. He’s going to have to show me that it works."

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