When Michael “Venom” Page started seeing posters and billboards around London promoting his upcoming rematch against Douglas Lima, he was happy to see Bellator MMA was finally giving him his due.
In the past, the welterweight contender from the United Kingdom has complained that Bellator hasn’t pushed him enough despite his obvious star power not to mention the lack of activity while fighting only twice over the last two years.
Ever since he raised his concerns with the ViacomCBS-owned promotion, Page said his relationship with Bellator MMA has been much improved, though there’s still part of him wondering why it took a public campaign to make something happen.
“There was a lot that was kind of going on in the background and things I was kind of unhappy with,” Page explained on The MMA Hour. “Had those conversations, [and] things are 10 times better. You can see that they’re working on a lot. Even with the promotion for this fight, I kind of had mixed feelings about it. Seeing my face and me and Lima’s fight branded around London was amazing. Obviously, I have friends and family messaging me and so on and so forth. It was great. That was the positive side.
“The negative side was kind of like this should have been happening so long ago. How many times have I been here, how many times have I put on such an amazing show? I’m a safe bet to put money on basically. So that’s the negative side, but it’s great to see what’s going on. The push that they’re putting behind me, and I think definitely a lot more people have faith in my abilities and what I can do.”
While Page has been a part of the Bellator roster for the past eight years, he’s never been shy when addressing his future and the possibility he will one day compete for the UFC. That kind of talk may not sit well with his current promoter, but the 34-year-old striker isn’t speaking about the UFC just in order to ruffle feathers or stir up controversy.
Instead, Page insists he’s just telling the truth when speaking about the UFC with hopes that Bellator will eventually equal them when it comes to promotion and notoriety.
“I know they don’t like it, but the fact is [the UFC] are the bigger brand, if we’re just looking at it as a business,” Page said. “In terms of their promotion and they’ve got the Embedded show, they’ve got this, they’ve got the behind the scenes, all that kind of stuff makes for better branding and it’s the kind of stuff they’re lacking over here.
“Again, I’m a massive fan of Bellator and I have been for a long time, cause I love the way they do the walkouts. You can really get individual characters, which I like. I’m a big character. I don’t want to be one of many. I want to stand out. So I love that side of it, the formula they’ve created on that side. But they need to be doing a bit more, which it seems that they are headed in that direction.”
As he approaches his rematch against Lima on Friday, Page said he’s not sure how many fights he has left on his current contract with Bellator, but he’s not necessarily looking to go anywhere else.
There’s still a lot that Page loves about Bellator, especially when it comes to the ability to be an individual personality and star versus the cookie-cutter way the UFC produces shows including the standard uniform that fighters wear to the cage.
“I’m allowed to really show my personality and be myself,” Page said about Bellator. “Obviously, I haven’t been over there [at the UFC] to know, but it doesn’t seem like you can show as much. You kind of have to fall in line with a lot of stuff. But at the same time, I make noise anywhere I go.”
More than anything, Page just hopes that by bringing up the UFC that it will only make Bellator push that much harder, because competition is ultimately supposed to breed better results.
“I’m definitely happy for [Bellator],” Page said. “Again, they’re not always happy to hear about competition, but the only thing you should be focused on then is being better than that competition.”