Michael Page is excited to get back to MMA.
This Friday, Page returns to the cage after a nearly one-year absence from MMA that saw him take a brief detour into Bare Knuckle FC. Now once again focused on MMA, Page takes on Goiti Yamauchi at Bellator 292 in a bout that could determine the next challenger for Yaroslav Amosov’s welterweight title. Aside from the stakes of the fight, it’s also a matchup of two contrasting styles — Page’s acrobatic kickboxing facing off with Yamauchi’s dynamic grappling. And given their in-cage differences, Page is excited about the potential.
“It kind of brings me back to the beginning of MMA,” Page said on The MMA Hour. “Someone that’s an expert in one area versus someone that’s an expert in another area, that’s what it kind of feels like. Obviously we fill the gaps, because you kind of have to these days, but he is exceptional in one area, and you can see by the amount of submissions he’s got. He’s got the highest submissions in Bellator, and I’ve got the highest KOs in Bellator as well, so you can see where we prefer to be. So it’s a great fight, an interesting fight.”
In his most recent fight inside the Bellator cage, Page faced Logan Storley for the interim welterweight title, losing a grappling-heavy split decision to the former NCAA All-American wrestler. After the fight, Page was highly critical of Storley, saying “he came to survive” instead of to fight. Given that, fans might wonder why Page would be keen to get back in the cage with another fighter intent on taking him down, however Page believes Yamauchi’s more dynamic grappling style is not at all like what Storley brought to the table.
“Logan Storley was an exceptional wrestler,” Page said. “There were moments during the fight that I had to laugh because there were certain things that he did that I just hadn’t trained for. When you wrestle someone that is a wrestler, it’s different to wrestling someone that can wrestle in MMA. It’s very different. So I learned a few things in that fight.
“Yamauchi is different, and the reason I say he’s different ... if he gets a takedown, he’s going to go for a submission finish. He’s going to try and beat me and inflict damage. That’s going to create a bit more space and allow me to maneuver. When you’ve got someone who is so exceptionally good at wrestling and he just holds you and is happy to be there, then yeah, it’s going to be a lot more difficult for that to happen.”
And Yamauchi agrees with Page.
Yamauchi — who is currently on a three-fight winning streak, all by stoppage — recently told MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz, that if he does succeed in scoring takedowns on Page, “he isn’t getting back up.” But Page isn’t concerned by those threats.
“You’re supposed to have confidence in your area,” Page said. “That’s his area. But I can say the same and say, ‘If I hit you, you’re going to stay hit.’ And we start on our feet. We don’t start clinched up.”
Bellator 292 takes places this Friday at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., and is headlined by a lightweight title fight between Usman Nurmagomedov and Benson Henderson.