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Michael ‘Venom’ Page: I’ll be a ‘different beast’ in bare-knuckle, ‘it’s going to be very demoralizing’ for Mike Perry

Michael “Venom” Page
Bellator MMA

Michael “Venom” Page has no illusions about the difficulties he may face in his first bare-knuckle fight when he takes on Mike Perry in London on Aug. 20.

Since promotions like the BKFC have become a viable option for fighters, the 35-year-old striker has seen plenty of boxers and mixed martial artists take the gloves off to make an attempt at crossing over to try a new sport only to discover that bare-knuckle is an entirely different kind of animal than what they first expected.

That said, Page isn’t overly concerned about his own transition, especially given the history bare-knuckle fights have in his home country, not to mention the experience he’s gained thanks to the people guiding him every day inside the gym.

“To be fair, bare-knuckle has always been something, especially in the U.K., that a lot of people I used to look up to in the kickboxing world was doing before when it was underground,” Page explained when speaking to MMA Fighting. “So it’s always something that I kind of hoped I would be able to do but obviously it was an underground thing so I thought it never would be. Then they legalized it so over the last few years it’s slowly gotten bigger and bigger. Then I thought maybe towards the end of my career, I’ll do something like this but then it’s like the opportunity’s falling in place now, why not?

“It’s just making a few adjustments. My coaches used to do bare-knuckle themselves so they’re well versed in that area. I’m just excited. I like making adjustments. It’s combat at the end of the day. It’s not going to be too far different but as you say, it’s slightly different. It’s just making those adjustments. That’s it.”

Page isn’t ignoring the differences between the striking arts because he’s had to dramatically alter his approach to fighting in the past as well.

He just expects his willingness to learn and dedication to evolving to be key components that will help him find as much success in a bare-knuckle fight as he’s had in MMA, kickboxing, and even boxing in the past.

“I think every time I’ve given myself a new challenge, you have to approach it in the same way,” Page said. “It is with humility and respect to anybody that’s in that sport already and their experience in that world. There’s no difference now. When I was in kickboxing going into mixed martial arts, I had to do the same thing. Mixed martial arts to boxing, I had to do the same thing.

“I’ve done so many other combat sports as well, you have to do the same thing. It is exactly that. As soon as you go to a new area, a new field, you have to give as much respect. I always do and then the second I find my groove in that area, I turn into ‘MVP’ again.”

Because he’s best known for his dazzling style on the feet, Page expects he’ll adapt to bare-knuckle far better than most.

There’s always an inherent danger in any fight, but Page doesn’t feel like he will deal with a steep learning curve despite no prior experience in the sport.

“As long as I give respect to the sport and I find myself in that sport, I find that groove in that sport, 100 percent I’ll be a different beast in that area,” Page said.

“There’s certain things I have to get right. I’m not overlooking that. But once I get that right, it’s a problem for anybody who stands in front of me with bare knuckles.”

With Perry as an opponent, Page knows he’ll face a fighter with extreme one-punch knockout power and the kind of durability that has defined his career up to this point.

Even with his nose smashed halfway across his face in a fight against Vicente Luque back in 2019, Perry was swinging hammers from the first second until the last. The nose was later repaired and Perry promptly accepted another fight just four months later.

While he admires the guts that Perry has shown in so many of his past fights, Page has no problem dishing out as much damage as possible to see just how much the “Platinum” one can take.

“I expect anybody in this sport, anybody in boxing, anybody in bare-knuckle boxing, anybody in mixed martial arts, to have a certain level of toughness,” Page said. “He’s one of those that has a lot of toughness and I give him a lot of credit for that. But I’ve stood across from so many tough fighters before and I demoralized them.

“You can be the hardest hitter in the world, you have to land punches. It’s going to be difficult. He’s going to have somebody that’s consecutively landing cleaner strikes. So for him, it’s going to be very demoralizing, throwing punches, not landing and then having somebody hit him clean every other couple of seconds. As tough as he is, there’s a mental strain I usually put on my opponents until I find the win.”

Page can’t say for certain if his upcoming fight in the BKFC will be his last, although he’s excited about this particular matchup and opportunity coming in August.

More than anything, Page just loves a challenge and throwing hands with Perry in a bare-knuckle brawl sounds like a good time to him.

“I just enjoy combat,” Page said. “If there was something else out there that could challenge me, I’d look forward to doing that. I just really enjoy combat. I really enjoy expressing my style. I think I’ve got such an attractive style for a lot of people but yet devastating.

“Seriously, I just know once I get in there, relax in there, I’m going to feel great. It’s not built for everyone. It’s not made for everybody. Some people, even if they think they could do it, they don’t want to do it. I think there’s no right or wrong, to each their own, but I’m ready to do it.”