Michael ‘Venom’ Page on debut versus ‘cockroach’ Kevin Holland and sparring Leon Edwards – Daily worlds news


When Michael “Venom” Page makes his long-awaited UFC debut on 9 March, he will draw on sparring sessions with the likes of welterweight champion Leon Edwards as he faces a “cockroach” in Kevin Holland.

Page, best known by the moniker “MVP” and for his flashy knockouts, was a standout in the Bellator welterweight division for 10 years, until he decided to test free agency in 2023.

It was a move that paid off when the Londoner, 36, signed for the UFC in December, in a moment that many MMA fans had longed to see for years. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that Page would be thrown in at the deep end with a clash against 13th-ranked Kevin Holland, who has become a fan favourite in recent years due to his entertainment-first style and tendency to talk trash during bouts.

Discussing his arrival in the UFC, Page told reporters on Friday (16 February): “It’s weird, it’s still a little bit surreal. There’s moments where I kind of forget I’m here, then something will happen and I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m in the UFC!’ I don’t think I sign off as a UFC athlete until I’ve stepped in that cage, fought and come out.

“One thing that helped was the bare knuckle fight [with UFC alumnus Mike Perry in 2022]. Once that fight was announced, Hunter [Campbell, UFC CBO] reached out to Audie [Attar, Page’s manager], like: ‘Does that mean he’s a free agent?’ Audi was like, ‘Oh, no, not yet,’ and explained, but that action meant: ‘Oh, these guys are interested.’

“I had one more [Bellator] fight, then there’s a certain term when you can’t negotiate. I had to wait that term out, but I was going around, flirting; you’d see me at different shows and stuff. Then the conversations were allowed to commence.”

Page, a former boxer and kickboxer, also admitted that he barely slept for two days leading up to the confirmation of his UFC deal, which set up his promotional debut against American Holland, 31, at UFC 299 in Miami.

“I’m happy not only because it’s a great fight, but because it means the UFC is taking me seriously as well,” Page said. “Obviously being signed means they have some form of respect for you, but you don’t know to what level. When they gave me that opponent, it was like: ‘Oh, they really want me here, and they’re really gonna push that.’

“When I had a conversation with Hunter, he was like: ‘How do you see it going, if you are to be signed here?’ And I said: ‘I just want to make noise. Get me at the top, give me all the best. Whoever you think is up there, that’s who I want.’ He was like: ‘Good, it seems like we’re thinking the same way.’

Page will enter the UFC with a professional MMA record of 21-2

(Lucas Noonan / Bellator MMA)

“Beforehand, [it will be a] great build-up. During the fight, you could probably turn it into a podcast, because both of us are going to be going back and forth [verbally]. Afterwards, I think there’s gonna be a lot of noise. I remember him talking to Khabib [Nurmagomedov] on the outside – ‘Teach me how to wrestle!’ – and I remember him knocking out ‘Jacare’ [Ronaldo Souza] from the ground.

“He’s a competent fighter, he’s a tough guy, he’s a cockroach; you can’t kill him, but I’m gonna try. I’m gonna try really hard! He’s an entertaining fighter, I’m an entertaining fighter. Us together, I think that’s a match made in heaven.”

One criticism of Page’s career has been a perceived lack of top-level competition during his spell in Bellator, and the Londoner has admitted that his “ego” wants to prove his doubters wrong.

“I’ve been doing it behind closed doors, I’ve sparred with so many different people – names that I haven’t even mentioned before,” Page said. “I’ve sparred Leon, [UFC light-heavyweight] Johnny Walker, and I don’t believe any one of them would ever say anything negative about the spar. That just shows the level I’m at, but yeah, it’ll be nice to prove it, just because I’m a bit petty… I’m a lot petty.”

In his final Bellator fight, Page stopped Goiti Yamauchi with a leg kick inside 26 seconds

(Bellator)

Page also said he is not concerned with building a particular ‘legacy’ in the UFC, other than being known for entertaining the fans.

“I just want to be known as the most entertaining combat athlete across the board,” he said. “You just know that it’s a big show, when I show up. I don’t care about ‘legendary’ status, I think I get enough respect from people – and I respect myself, most importantly.

“I want to inspire more people to utilise [my] kind of style, and also to encourage them to be more showy in that arena. That means less people will feel the need to run their mouths because their fights are boring. No, make your fight exciting, then you won’t need to do that on the other side.

“I want that to be left there: just the entertainment value of it. I want to do it on the biggest stage, and I’m here now, ready to do that. I always say the same thing: Don’t blink.”



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