UFC Fighter Portraits
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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) newcomer, Michael Page, will battle veteran finisher, Kevin Holland, later TONIGHT (Sat., March 9, 2024) at UFC 299 in Kaseya Arena in Miami, Florida.

“Venom” may be a debuting athlete, but he’s far from a standard Contenders Series newbie. Page cut his teeth in Bellator for about a decade, being brought up through the ranks in frustratingly slow fashion. The silver lining, however, is that along the way, Page established himself as a standout striker with a unique penchant for wildly flashing finishes.

This is the man who actually broke his opponent’s skull (see it here), one of the scariest injuries in mixed martial arts (MMA) history. He’s also taken selfies while beating up his opponent, thrown a Pokeball at a slept foe, and taken on Mike Perry in a bareknuckle boxing match (watch highlights). Will he contender for UFC gold? There’s no such guarantee, but “MVP” remains a fascinating addition to the Welterweight roster.

Let’s take a closer look at his skill set:

Bellator 153: Holloway v Page


A life-long martial artist, Page has a ridiculous build for a Welterweight kickboxer, standing 6’3” with a 79-inch reach. He’s a unique and deadly striker, able to create massive collisions thanks to his ability to control and manipulate distance.

The first thing to note about Page is his stance. His stance is very traditional martial arts based, fully side-on and with his hands low. Page is reliant solely on distance and head movement to keep him safe, because his hands are almost never up. This stance does bring with it other dangers as well, notably a weakness to the calf kick the Douglas Lima exploited in their first match back in 2019.

All styles and stances carry some weaknesses, however, and there are massive advantages to Page’s approach too. Most notably, Page’s side-on approach increases that already massive wingspan. When he moves into the jab, it covers a shocking amount of distance and lands with a significant impact — it’s the type of shot that drops opponents.

Another important detail to note about Page’s stance is that he’s always able to explode in any direction. His front foot will sometimes rest flat, but that back heel is always off the mat, allowing him to leap forward, pull back, or pivot in either direction at a moments notice. Opponents sometimes think he’s flat-footed and lunge at him, only for Page to pivot off and simultaneously crack them with an angled jab, made more powerful by their own forward momentum.

Page is famously a showman in the ring, plenty willing to talk to his opponent or mime playing basketball in the cage. This showmanship helps egg his opponent into counter shots, sure, but it also helps in keeping Page loose. When Page is relaxed, he’s constantly moving and feinting, keeping his opponent unsure of precisely what’s next. Like Israel Adesanya or Anderson Silva or most other rangy kickboxers, Page is not the type to throw punches-in-bunches, but excellent feinting and distance management tends to ensure his shots are accurate nevertheless.

Usually, it begins with the jab. Page will pump his shoulder in classic fashion or rotate his right like he’s throwing an underhanded softball pitch, but the idea is to hide that quick flash of the jab. That’s his opening offense and distance finder, a test of whether he can step into the right hand heavily.

When Page throws the right hand, he sprints into it. Again, this does carry risk: if Page is timed and hit on the way in, it’s going to hurt him badly. However, because Page flies forward into the cross — sometimes literally jumping forward with both feet into the punch — he tends to close distance far more rapidly than his opponent expects, throwing off their own distance. Page will use this running right to initiate and on the counter, interrupting his foe’s combination or kick by springing into the punch.

A common strategy amongst striker’s with a traditional martial arts background is to cheat the back foot forward. Again, that back foot is the one propelling Page forward into his right hand, flying knee, or jumping kick. The closer that back foot is to his opponent, the more suddenly those shots are going to impact their target. Therefore, if Page’s back foot is directly beneath his center of gravity rather than behind him, he should be considered coiled like a spring and ready to attack.

How to hide that shift? Page usually does so with feints. As he shows shoulder pump or actually flicks a jab, Page’s right leg moves beneath him while his opponent is distracted. Now, he can really explode forward with his next movement. This footwork can also be hidden with simple rhythm, as Page bounces forward and out, forward and out in repetition. At some point, he won’t quite bounce out, and instead use that forward movement to bring the rear foot in and fire forward a second time.

Page’s lead leg switch kick is a powerful weapon that relies on that back foot coming forward beneath him as well. Because he’s hiding that shift in positioning, his left leg comes up quickly to the mid-section or head and can really catch his opponent off-guard. Sometimes, he’ll jump into the kick for added flair, and this strategy can also load up spinning kicks.

Many of Page’s best connections come when his opponents swing at him. Page excels as a counter puncher because he bullies reactions out of his opponent. Right at the first bell, Page will press his opponent with constant feints, stiff jabs, and hands by his waist. That’s downright irritating for a professional fighter, and most will want to even the score.

Most cannot match Page’s length, explosiveness, or footwork trickery. To Page, it’s obvious when they intend to strike, and he’s commonly able to burst forward and land first. The right hand is his most usual weapon, but the same concept is why he’s able to land flying knees with such consistency.

MMA: Bellator 221-Lima vs Page


Page has occasionally wrestled offensively, mostly looking to time double legs as opponents step in or cover up along the fence. Notably, he used his wrestling to edge out Paul Daley in an all-time disappointing 2019 contest.

The bigger conversation here is stopping takedowns. Historically, Page’s distance management and lanky build are enough to shut down many takedowns. It’s tough to off-balance him with a single leg in the open, and against the fence, Page does well to spread his base wide and deny his opponent’s attempts to connect hands on the double.

Page did show some wrestling inexperience against four-time All-American wrestler Logan Storley, however. While he managed to stop Storley from doubling off, Storley was able to finish the single leg takedown via fireman’s carry multiple times — not something that should be happening in an MMA fight at the elite level. Often, this happened because Page failed to break his opponent’s posture. He didn’t press down on the head or crank heavily on the whizzer, allowing Storley to continually work until a takedown finish materialized.

On the bright side, Page never allowed Storley to do much with his top position either, continually working to try to stand up. Once again, however, a lack of fundamentals cost him, as he failed to separate his foe’s hands and was continually put back on the floor for that error.

MMA: OCT 23 Bellator 144 - Galvao v Dantas

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Page’s most recent submission win came in 2016 against Jeremie Holloway via straight ankle lock. That’s a neat fun fact, but it doesn’t actually imply much about his actual abilities.

The Storley fight is more relevant. In that five-round bout, Page never showed much of an offensive guard game. He was (rightfully) more focused on working back to his feet, but often, a bit of submission threat helps in that mission. Page’s guard didn’t demonstrate that element of danger, and thus Storley was able to focus solely on holding him down for long periods of time.

Bellator Dublin


Page is a dynamic striker who still doesn’t have much experience against the best in the world. There’s every chance he can flounder, but there’s also a slim possibility that the longtime Bellator standout is every bit as good as he believes himself to be. Either way, it should be quite fun finding out!

Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport’s most elite fighters.

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 299 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET (simulcast on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET), before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET (also on ESPN+).

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 299: “O’Malley vs. Vera 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

Author: Staff

Please go to MMAMania.com to read full article.

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