As he prepares for his own showdown against Neiman Gracie in the main event at Bellator 274, the former NCAA All-American wrestler has his sights set on what’s directly in front of him. But he can’t help but keep a watchful eye over the upcoming welterweight title fight between Amosov and Michael Page scheduled for May 13.
While Storley’s grappling credentials make him arguably the toughest possible matchup for Amosov in the division, he doesn’t discount Page’s chances to win, even if the Englishman might be fighting an uphill battle.
“I think the thing with ‘MVP’ is he can strike in an instant with his knees and his jumping right hands and hooks and kicks, anything can happen,” Storley told MMA Fighting.
“I think if Amosov gets to him early and gets to his body lock again, like he did with Lima, get into half guard and control him — now, ‘MVP’ is going to lose that and I think Amosov will smother him. ‘MVP’ is tricky and he’s so fast in and out. I’m guessing he’s going to try to land something early.”
If there’s been one major criticism aimed at Page since he arrived in Bellator, it’s that he hasn’t faced the highest level of competition in the welterweight division.
While that might be a valid complaint based on his overall résumé, Storley refuses to count out Page as a contender, and that’s why he had no problem when the fight against Amosov was booked in the first place.
“He fought in the tournament,” Storley said of Page. “He beat [Paul] Daley and he loses to Lima and then comes back and beat someone else and then beats Lima. He beat the [former] champ in a close fight. He’s got a following and that’s what I think obviously helps with him, too. I don’t see anything wrong with it.
“It’s not his fault he’s fighting for the title. It’s not my job to be matchmaker. I have no problem with him fighting for the title after beating Lima.”
As far as his own title aspirations, Storley would love the opportunity rematch Amosov, or even face a tricky opponent like Page. But none of that will matter if he can’t get through Gracie on Saturday night.
Storley is no stranger to these kinds of moments under the spotlight considering his high-profile collegiate wrestling career. But this will be his first opportunity to headline a card since joining the Bellator roster in 2017. That’s why he’s not looking too far ahead, because he’s seen plenty of people make that mistake in the past.
“If you want to play the ‘what if’ game, it starts to eat at you,” Storley said. “It puts unnecessary pressure on yourself. I knew that with the Amosov fight. I knew what was next. I knew if I went out there and won that fight, I would be fighting for the belt and I could be champ right now.
“That stings, but it is what it is. It’s a split decision. I thought I did enough [to win], obviously I didn’t, but nothing but respect for Amosov. This fight is a different matchup. Gracie is a different fight from Amosov.”
Facing off with one of the top submission specialists on the entire Bellator roster presents its own set of problems, though Storley has no fear of going to the ground with Gracie if that’s where the fight ends up.
He has five rounds to get the job done, and Storley is confident he’ll get through Gracie to remain a top threat to whoever ends up as champion after Amosov and Page face off.
“I know he’s slick, I know he’s tricky,” Storley said of Gracie. “I’ve watched his fights. He fought [my teammate] Jason Jackson. I know where he’s good. But at the same time, I train with the best guys in the world as I have for the past four years.
“I fought the best guy in the world at 170 [pounds] so I know where I stand and I’m focused for all 25 minutes to go out there and beat Neiman Gracie.”