Photo via Facebook/BellatorMMA
Paul Daley reminded us why he is one of the most devastating knockout artists in Bellator’s welterweight ranks on Saturday night at The Forum, where a brutal spinning elbow followed by a flying knee ended Brennan Ward’s night in round one.
It was Rory MacDonald that was on the tip of Daley’s tongue in his post-fight interview after the highlight reel knockout, but the Nottingham native seems like an ideal candidate to initiate his countryman, Michael ‘Venom’ Page, to the elite ranks of the promotion.
The experience disparity between the two fighters is often cited as a stumbling block to making the matchup a reality. Back in November, Daley underlined Page’s relative inexperience as a reason why the bout didn’t appeal to him.
“Would Floyd Mayweather ever consider a fight with Adrien Broner?” Daley told MMA Fighting.
“He wouldn’t because he seems himself in a completely different league, though they’re similar characters. And that’s how I see it. He’s super talented, as is Adrien Broner, but I’ve been in this sport for a long time and I’ve had some great victories and I’ve been in some great fights. And there’s more to come. For me, Michael Page just has to get that experience.”
It’s strange that Bellator is still reluctant to put the sensational ten-time kickboxing world champion into fights at the top of the bracket. After seven wins under the banner, the excuse that the 29-year-old Brit is still finding his feet in a new sport is wearing thin.
In the wake of his skull-crushing knockout of Brazilian veteran Evangelista ‘Cyborg’ Santos in July, his last opponent Fernando Gonzalez appeared reluctant to exchange with him. Page even attempted to land the infamous knee when his opponent shot in for a single-leg takedown for the first time, which forced Gonzalez to err on the side of caution each time he attempted similar entries for the remainder of the contest.
The reason why ‘MVP’ has been able to build his star internationally has been based on his jaw-dropping techniques, but without an opponent willing to exchange with him, it’s impossible for him to use the full array of his arsenal. The boos and jeers that chorused through the SAP Center during the forgettable welterweight tilt with Gonzalez bore a stark contrast to elation that Page usually stirs.
While Daley cites Page’s need for experience, it is the relative inexperience of his opponents that is often the biggest takeaway from his bouts. ‘Semtex’ has a stellar striking background that makes him and ideal candidate to ease ‘MVP’ into the top flight. Famously, Daley punched Josh Koscheck in the face after the bell following their 2010 meeting at UFC 113 due to the American’s refusal to stand and trade with him.
The fans and media have not been the only ones who have agreed that Page needs a step-up in opposition, ‘MVP’ himself has been asking for better-known counterparts since 2015.
“I am confident where I am right now all rounded as an MMA fighter. Anyone who can increase my ranking is what I want. I am about making forward steps now. I’m comfortable in my knowledge of the MMA game. From here on in anyone who is anyone I am happy to be in front of their face,” Page told SevereMMA.com ahead of his Bellator 144 clash with Charlie Ontiveros.
In the same interview, Page declared himself open to a showdown with Daley.
“Since the British Invasion card with Linton Vassell and Liam McGeary and myself and Paul people are saying a lot of the British are in the same weight classes so what does that mean…and you know Paul and I really get along, he’s a really cool guy. But what is comes down to is that we are gentlemen who are willing to go to war and then become gentlemen afterward.”
Bellator have continued their European expansion since the initial British Invasion card in February 2015, returning to the 02 Arena in the English capital last July and putting on co-promoted event in Ireland with European promotion, BAMMA, in December.
If the promotion is looking to make a splash in the European market, Daley versus ‘MVP’ would bring international attention to an event give the prolonged wait for established dance partner for Page. The strength of the banner may also give the Scott Coker and Co a better chance of securing a European live television deal, which has proven to be an issue for fans in the past.
Although Daley doesn’t see the advantage in facing Page, there would be far more value in a win over his countryman than possibly any other fight in the bracket, with the exceptions of a rematch with the champion Douglas Lima or a meeting with MacDonald.
The former UFC star has already verbally agreed to meet Lima in his first fight under the Bellator banner, so options are running thin for Daley if he is out to make an impactful statement to bolster his title credentials. Despite his seven appearances for Bellator, we still have a very limited grasp of what Page can accomplish in MMA. It’s time for us to find out how far kickboxing ace can go.
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