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Michael ‘Venom’ Page buries hatchet with Bellator after frustration over inactivity, promotion

Bellator welterweight star Michael “Venom” Page on Wednesday evening spoke with the promotion and resolved frustrations he said had built up during a pandemic layoff.

During a virtual media day in support of his fight against Derek Anderson on Friday at Bellator 258, Page told reporters he was unhappy with the company and sought a sit-down while he was in Uncasville, Conn., for the fight.

After talking with executives, Page believes he’s on better footing.

“I’m just a very honest person, and if I’m feeling a certain way, it just has to come out,” Page told MMA Fighting. “I genuinely feel better. This conversation should have been had a long time ago.”

In late April, Page criticized Bellator for what he felt was a lack of promotion for his fight with Anderson, calling its marketing department “piss poor.”

“There are some amazing athletes over at Bellator, and I just don’t feel they’re getting the correct promotion,” he said on his YouTube channel. “The biggest show is the UFC – they are a marketing machine. They are nonstop promoting the athletes.

“Bellator are on that same level with, one, the athletes, but two, their contacts [with] Showtime [and] BBC iPlayer. They should be putting on these big productions, and people should know more about their athletes. And I just feel like they’re slacking in that area.”

Page didn’t re-air his grievances in detail during the media day. Instead, he took issue with more practical matters, calling attention to an “extremely slippery” canvas that he said prevented him from launching explosive attacks. And he wondered aloud about a switch with Yaroslav Amosov at No. 1 despite the fact that neither had fought since the Bellator welterweight rankings were amended.

Page hoped to find a solution with the promotion behind the scenes.

“It’s not something that can’t be rectified,” he said at the media day. “I’m happy to have a conversation. There’s been numerous amount of issues that I’m not happy with, but I genuinely believe it’s because I’m a fan of Bellator.

“Take myself out of Bellator, whether I’m a competitor – I genuinely believed in that show in that organization and what they’re doing and what [Bellator President} Scott Coker has been doing up until recent times. That’s why things have been a bit more irritable.”

Page told MMA Fighting many of his issues with Bellator were small things that built up as he waited 10 months between fights as the promotion geared up for its 2021 start in April.

“I’m sure Bellator themselves wanted to get back as soon as they could, but it just felt slow,” he said. “When you’re watching other shows get started, that can be frustrating. It is what it is. We’ve started now, and it’s exciting to hear about the partnerships they have with Showtime and iPlayer. So hopefully, although we started late, we can start with a bang and get these shows going, get some great fights going, and get the promotion that’s necessary.

“I don’t know if that’s what they were waiting for because they were having to finalize the deal with those things before they got going. But as an athlete, not knowing is the frustrating bit. Either way, we’re back now, I’ve got a fight, and I’m just looking forward to more shows after that.

“You automatically feel better because you’ve been heard. They’ve taken the time to have the conversation in the first place. We realize there’s been a disconnect in some of our communication lines. Basically, we’ve figured the best way is to go direct to Scott Coker, Mike Kogan and so forth. I feel better, and let’s just see what happens moving forward. Hopefully, things can get put into action and I can see more positive steps.”

Ideally, Page would like to get back to the schedule he enjoyed in 2019, when he rattled off three fights in four months to rebound after the first loss of his professional MMA career. Now, he’ll go direct to make that happen.

“Hopefully, we can move forward in unison,” he said.

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