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Michael Page ready for contention, says he’s ‘ridiculously happy at Bellator’


England’s Michael Page won his tenth professional mixed martial arts bout on Friday night at Bellator 153 against Jeremie Holloway, and he did it with his usual panache. After Holloway charged out of the gate, Page hit him with a right hand that nearly put an exclamation mark on the fight just seconds in.

When Holloway absorbed the shot and continued on, Page showed another wrinkle in his evolving game just couple of minutes later — he submitted Holloway with a counter-reverse toehold midway through the first round. The finish was shown on ESPN’s Sportscenter, and Page continued his unbeaten streak in the cage.

And for those people who stack Holloway’s name into the same casualty pile as Rudy Bears and Charlie Ontiveros (a.k.a. people set up for Page to beat) the cry began anew: When will we see him fighting formidable opponents? When will Page become a contender in Bellator’s welterweight division?

On Monday, Page was an in-studio guest on The MMA Hour, and he was asked those very questions.

"I think I am now," he told Ariel Helwani. "I definitely am now."

Even though his next bout was already announced versus Fernando Gonzalez (25-13) at Bellator 158 in London on July 16, Page said he was one hundred percent ready for the likes of current champion Andrey Koreshkov. Likewise, he even said he’d be ready for lightweight champion Will Brooks, should he dip to the lower weight class.

"I understand why people want me to," he said. "I already see what can happen. None of these names in that sense, they don’t mean anything to me. It genuinely doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t deal with my fights. My coaches do, and Bellator does. So it’s between them. I get a name…and I start training."

Page said he like to take the approach that being himself will lead all the spoils of the sport to him, including the title.

"A lot of people are in the industry chasing something," he said. "I don’t chase it, I do what I do and things come to me. So, I see the lights there and all these moths are chasing going towards the light, and I’m standing here doing what I do and the light just comes like this…and then all of a sudden I’m going to have the belt. I genuinely believe that."

Page, a freestyle kickboxer-turned-mixed martial artist, has been phenomenal since coming to Bellator in 2014. Bellator president Scott Coker calls him the "Michael Jackson of fighting," because he incorporates movement, dance and style into his artisan striking bouquet. His critics point to the fact that he hasn’t faced a dedicated wrestler, somebody who is hell-bent on nullifying such aesthetics.

But he got by Nah-Shon Burrell, who tried to wrestle Page and made was the only fighter so far in Bellator to go the distance with "Venom." As a thoughtful fighter, Page said he’s heard the critics, just as he’s seen the backlash that other fighters like Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor received after losing fights.

He said he knows that his style, which he concedes rides a fine line between confident and cocky, would produce a chorus of "you’ve been exposed."

"It’s funny because I remember a guy posting online, like, ‘that style never worked, look what happened to Anderson Silva,’" he said. "So I was like, if I could choose to have any kind of career, it would still be Anderson Silva’s one. Look at how long of a success of he was…look how long he was successful before that happened with that style."

Page is considered one of Bellator’s hot commodities for his showmanship in the cage. Since Bjorn Rebney left the company and Coker took over, the promotion has caught some heat for intermixing legitimate fights with championship-caliber competitors with spectacles, such as Dada 5000 versus Kimbo Slice.

The 29-year old Page, who fights on the same card that Kimbo’s headlining in July in his rematch against James Thompson, said he doesn’t have a problem with the way Bellator operates.

"I think they’re an amazing production company," he said. "They know how to put on a show. Putting on a show means, one, drawing eyes; two, bringing up the up-and-comers; three, making sure the guys that are already relevant stay relevant by matching them up well. Just the whole production, I love everything that they’re doing."

Asked specifically if he had a problem with Kimbo fighting, which has been a hot topic of conversation since his fight in February, Page said he didn’t. He said that a Kimbo fight only serves to kick down some of the shine to his fight with Gonzalez, and the more exposure the better.

"I don’t got a problem at all, because I understand it," he said. "Kimbo, regardless of what anybody says, he’s got a massive fan base and he knows how to fight as in…obviously he’s more of a striker, but he was a warrior from way back when. We used to watch him on YouTube, and he brings in numbers.

"So for guys like me, if I’m fighting on the same show as him, he brings the numbers and if people spot me and they’re like, ‘who’s that guy now?’ There’s no way I’m going to complain about that, in any way, shape or form. A fight is a fight, and anything can happen."

The London Shootfighters’ star has two fights left on his current deal with Bellator, which could make him a hot property coming out of his fight with Fernandez. As for whether or not he’s looking to test the waters, Page seemed pretty content with where he is.

"Not at all," he said. "I’m sure we’re going to talk very soon. Obviously the focus is London at the moment, so I don’t want to be in any kind of contract talks for now. I just want to focus on the London [card]. But I’m sure straight after that we’ll be talking after that, but I’m happy at Bellator. I’m ridiculously happy at Bellator."

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