Michael Page needed less than six minutes to remind the MMA world of the ridiculousness he is capable of Friday night at Bellator 200.
Returning from a 16-month layoff, Page tore through David Rickels at Bellator’s bicentennial show, dismantling the longtime lightweight contender in absurdly stylish fashion with a performance that ultimately saw a still-standing Rickels wave off the fight just 43 seconds into the second round. And given the manner of his win — a dominant showing overflowing with dance moves and posturing and all sorts of mid-fight theatrics — the still-undefeated Page conceded that he has never felt quite like he did at Bellator 200.
“I genuinely felt like that was the best I’ve ever felt in a fight,” Page said Tuesday on The MMA Hour.
“I felt absolutely just in the zone. I’ve never felt as hungry and as fired up as I have before this fight. Like I said, I was in the back just doing drills with my training partners and my coaches, and they were looking at me like, ‘You look possessed.’ And that’s exactly how I felt. I felt possessed. I’ve never felt that fired up before. There was like a focused anger inside of me as well. And normally there’s more enjoyment, but I had the enjoyment side of it [transform into] that kind of focused anger. I felt unbelievable.”
Page, 31, had plenty to prove in his long-awaited return to the cage. His flashy and flamboyant style had succeeded throughout his Bellator run, however Rickels was the most grizzled opponent he had faced, a hard-nosed fighter who carried a 13-4 Bellator record into the matchup and had only lost in Bellator to men who had either held the title or challenged for Bellator gold. But Page styled on Rickels all the same, outclassing “The Caveman” so badly that Page wound up winning in a manner he never once anticipated.
“In the kickboxing world, my name was very big, so I had a lot of people just mentally break even before I stepped in, and that was just to do with my name,” Page said. “But in the mixed martial arts world, you rarely even seen it, let alone it happen to you. So we know how tough everybody is just to get in the cage, but someone of Dave Rickels’ standard as well — there could’ve been a million ways that I could’ve predicted this to finish and that definitely wouldn’t have been one of them.
“That whole night was just unbelievable for me. I’m still buzzing off it now. I’ve probably watched the fight about 10 times.
“There’s nobody in the world who can do what I do in the cage, in terms of how many angles I hit, in terms of how can capture the crowd, the moves that I can pull off in the cage, the speed, my accuracy, the excitement. I think I put on a full show that nobody else can actually put on while they’re in the cage.”
Page attributed much of his success against Rickels to a new weight-lifting regime implemented by his coaches at London Shootfighters. Page said the program has not only helped to ward off the injuries that contributed to keeping him out for over a year, but also increased the explosion in his standup abilities as well.
“Normally we have done very light weights, just very light weights,” Page said. “I’ve never really gone too deep into any weight program, and my coach said he thinks it’s time that I actually was a bit heavier in my fights, for one, and a little bit more explosive. And he was definitely right about that. I felt unbelievable. I felt like I could’ve gone seven, eight, nine rounds. That’s how fresh my legs felt and that’s why I was getting away with dancing between rounds.”
Moving forward, Page said he hopes to return to the cage “as soon as possible,” especially after sitting out all of 2017. He said that a potential fight against his rival and countryman Paul Daley is “not dead,” but after everything that’s played out between the two welterweight strikers, he wants Daley to “prove it one way or another,” either by picking up a win before they meet or by wagering his full purse on the match.
In the interim, as Bellator figures out what to do next with Page, “MVP” plans to throw back on his 10-ounce gloves for a second go of things in the boxing ring. Page is currently signed with David Haye’s Hayemaker Ringstar Promotions, and he hopes Bellator doesn’t stand in the way of him earning a quick paycheck in the pugilistic world.
“I’m actually looking at a boxing fight, just to get one in as quickly as possible, so I’m hoping that goes ahead,” Page said. “There’s still a few things we need to kind of sort out, and then straight back into MMA. I feel ridiculously fresh still, because if you saw in that fight, I didn’t get touched, and I’m not injured or anything from that fight as well. I’m good to go, man. I’m back in the gym already, I’m already working on the next moves and bettering myself, so I’m just looking forward to feeling the cage again and being in the ring again and just showing off, and showing off what I can do.”