UNCASVILLE – After their five-round fight ended in a unanimous decision for Michael Page at Bellator 216, Paul Daley left the arena at the Mohegan Sun without a word. However, his manager — Ali Abdel-Aziz — had some parting words for the press that had assembled for the post-fight scrums.
He shouted something to the effect that he didn’t like the cageside judges, who scored the contest 48-47 across the board for Page.
Meanwhile Page, who did show up to speak to the media, said he wasn’t sure which way the judges would go after a frustrating — at times strange — main event on Saturday night.
“I just hate decisions in general,” Page said. “I’ve done it two other times now aside from this one, and every single time you just don’t know. Even the last time against against Fernando Gonzalez, one of the judges score that [for him]. It was actually ridiculous. I don’t believe I really got hit in that fight. For them to even score it so one-sided even in that fight, I just hate going to a decision.
“I was chasing the win, I was going for the win. He just wanted to play it safe and just get past me. And you could see that. I’m glad the judges could see that I was fighting from start to finish.”
The first round of the fight played out to a smattering of boos, as both men sized each other up yet ultimately didn’t engage. In the second round, Daley pressed the action by going for — and eventually scoring — a takedown. He repeated the process at junctures through the next couple of rounds, but wasn’t able to do much after getting Page on his back.
In the stand-up exchanges, Page was able to effective — if minimally — score for as long as he could keep it on the feet.
“I’m still not happy with my performance,” Page said. “I made a lot of mistakes myself, but at the same time I told you guys he was a bitch, man, he didn’t really want it. He was talking all this stuff about [he was going] to knock me out, and he ran the whole first round, and then all he wanted to do was play groundwork. To play wrestling.”
At the same time Page offered up some kudos to Daley for understanding his own deficiencies in the fight.
“I give him my respect, he’s a veteran of the game,” he said. “He understood that regardless of what we talked that he can’t stand with me. He knew that from the beginning, and he came in with a different game plan. But I also felt like he kind of burnt himself out, because that’s not really his game either. He was holding onto me for dear life. There wasn’t enough activity on the floor. I wasn’t really in danger at all off my back.
“He was just holding me, so I understand why the judges gave me the rounds. I was a bit more active, I still wanted to fight from start to finish.”
The fight left a lot to the imagination for the fans, many of whom expected a dynamic stand-up battle in the grudge match between England’s top rivals. The 35-year old Daley’s cage experience was one of the X-factors coming in, given that many of his victories have come via KO or TKO.
Yet Daley wasn’t able to do anything definitive on the feet against Page, and likewise the stylist Page wasn’t able to get into a rhythm himself. By the end of the fight, Page had done just enough in the judges eyes to give him the nod, and advance him to the semifinals of Bellator’s welterweight grand prix. He will face former champion Douglas Lima in May.
As for what Page thinks will come next for Daley? Though he says he’d like to fight “Semtex” again on British soil, ultimately he thinks Daley should hang them up.
“I’ve said this before, seriously, where does he go after I beat him?” he said. “Seriously, where does he go? Maybe he should retire and just be done with it, because he’s not good enough. His gym is a sham. Anybody in Nottingham, or Newcastle or wherever the hell he lives, don’t ever go there. He overcharges and under-delivers, the same way he did here. Under-delivered.
“I don’t see him going nowhere. The reason why he’s been at the level he is, it’s because he can’t get by the top echelon of the sport.”