Michael Page is a big fan of his fellow Bellator alum Michael Chandler but believes he, like many other fighters, is trading his health and championship accolades for fanfare and favorable feedback from the UFC.
Chandler delivered a Knockout of the Year contender at UFC 274, shutting off Tony Ferguson with a flush front kick. Page was wildly impressed by the finish but says that Chandler’s early struggles against Ferguson are a product of his own recklessness.
“The whole world saw that. What an epic finish. I feel it was a messy start from both fighters,” Page told CBS Sports ahead of his headlining interim welterweight title fight at Bellator 281. “To be fair, nowadays it feels like everybody is just more game to get in there and I call it 50-50 fighting. They go in there, they have all the skills in the world but they don’t care to gameplan anymore. They are more interested in appeasing the owners [and] appeasing the crowd but, for me, in the wrong way.
“I remember my coach always said to me — obviously, we don’t have it in Bellator but if we were doing it in the UFC or other shows — he said, ‘I never want any of you guys to get Fight of the Night. Never, ever. Because it just means you’ve just taken years off your life. You can get Submission of the Night, you can get KO of the Night, but I never want to see any of my fighters get Fight of the Night.'”
Check out the full interview with Michael “Venom” Page below.
Page suggests promoters incentivize fighters to jeopardize their health more than necessary by favorably treating those who throw caution to the wind.
“I think it’s because of how the system is set up. It is set up to shed more spotlight on those who are willing to do that,” Page said. “The majority of people who watch it are not true martial artists. They’re not paying attention to the details of the art. They just want blood. People that are out there and are willing to give it, technically you are appeasing the masses, which means more people are going to, I guess, spend money. So the promoters are like, ‘Yeah, this is what we want.'”
MVP lays claim to one of the most spectacular and horrifying KOs in MMA history. During a 2016 fight with Evangelista Santos at Bellator 158, Page caught Santos with a flush flying knee. It was an unusual finish. Santos, still visibly conscious, fell face-first to the mat holding his face. It was later determined that he suffered a frontal sinus fracture and his forehead was visibly dented inwards.
“It’s weird because it always puts a dent, excuse the pun, in terms of how you want to actually celebrate,” Page said, reflecting on the KO. “I’m happy in the sense that I didn’t know about the injury until the next day because that night I was actually able to really enjoy my moment. Since then, it’s hard to go back and be super proud of it. We did everything right, the timing was good, the fight in general and, obviously, getting the win, but then it’s hard to kind of be super happy about what happened on the other side.
“I didn’t even know that was possible, to be fair, but we kind of agree on near enough to death in this sport. Not to try and make it seem that vicious because very rarely would you ever hear of that happening, but that’s just what you sign up for.”