When Michael Page and Paul Daley finally faced off at Bellator 216 in Connecticut, it was anything but what was expected from the arch-rivals.
Uncasville, CT — You could pen a novel on the build-up to Michael ‘Venom’ Page vs. Paul Daley at Bellator 216. An interesting one, at that. The two British strikers had been circling for years. Trash talk spewed forth, heavy in volume, light on consequences. Until Saturday night in Connecticut, where the U.K.’s biggest MMA fight went down. On the wrong side of the pond, but after the on-again, off-again nature of the bout, few were complaining.
Daley was the old dog, Page the young lion, though in reality, that spoke only to their MMA experience. Only four years separated them in age, despite Michael Page consistently being labeled a “prospect.” Those, with his dismantling of David ‘Caveman’ Rickels last year, it should have been clear that the prospect had arrived.
The crowd was on its feet as the pair made their walks to the cage, a show of exactly how revered the two British strikers were stateside. A sold out arena was looking for a flash knockout, a flying knee, pretty much any violent finish imaginable.
MVP chants broke out early as Page held center, allowing Daley to circle outside. Daley seemed to simply bounce as he moved side ot side; Page, as always, had his hands low. MVP flashed a kick, but it was more of a warning, looking to judge distance perhaps. Nowhere near the target. A hint of a jab from Page. Virtually nothing from Daley through half a round. Then a kick to the body landed on Daley. Page had connected with the first significant strike.
When the pair went back to just facing off, the crowd let them have it. Nary a strike thrown since that kick. At least not that landed. Daley fanned on a low kick. Venom gestured, “bring it on,” trying to goad Daley into moving forward. Page then connected with a jab. A kick to the thigh. And that was the round. A jab, a handful of kicks. Did we miss anything?
Not what anyone expected, to be sure. Round two saw Page return to the theatrics, with Daley no more inclined to engage. Someone was going to have to commit, and Page did with a front kick. Daley, again, fanned on a kick of his own. Then, the unthinkable, Paul Daley shot in for a takedown, and it was nowhere to be found. He’d chase Page down, tying him up against the cage next. Page would eventually fight ‘Semtex’ off. Another takedown attempt followed, this time, Daley landed it. He’d tie up Page’s legs with his own, and trap Page with his back against the fence. Forcing Page to stay sitting kept Daley in dominant position, but he wasn’t able to do much with it. Page would make it to his feet just prior to the bell — only to be sent reeling when Daley finally connected! It might have coincided with a bit of a stumble, and Page was saved by the bell either way.
MVP opened the third with a leg kick, then went high with another. Later showing signs of a flying knee, it appeared he was looking to open up his bag of tricks. Another jump knee was flashed, but he pulled back. Instea, he connected with a jab. Then a right hand that landed. Daley stepped back, then re-engaged. Daley then led in with an overhand, dropping to a takedown. That Page fought off, but Daley would later land a trip and move into guard. This time, Daley was able to land some big shots while in control, and Page found himself under fire. He’d make it back up, but the round was Daley’s.
With the welterweight grand prix fights all being five rounds, there was two or less still to go. Anyone’s ball game. Page went after Daley with a front kick, and had the clear advantage on the feet. He simply needed to keep it there, on the feet. Every time Daley sensed danger, however, he shot in for the takedown. He landed as many as Page fought off through the fight, securing another with four minutes left in the fourth. Daley would keep the fight down nearly two minutes; as Page got back up, he fired a head kick that nearly connected just as Daley was turning. A couple of jump knees then had Daley covering up, as Page went on the attack. Then Page had Daley down! With thirty seconds to go, Page had ‘Semtex’ pinned along the fence. He’d manage to sneak in a few shots, but the round would end before too much damage could be done.
Paul Daley took the fight to the ground early in the fifth round of Bellator 216’s main event. With MVP threatening upkick, he nearly backed off, but waded back into guard while Page briefly looked for an arm-bar that was never really in play. It was the midway point of the round before Page made it back up, and when he did, he took Daley’s back, threatening with a rear-naked choke. MVP then dropped a number of elbows as an exhausted Daley worked to scramble free. He’d make it up in the final minute, only to wind up on his back with Page dropping punches.
Few saw Daley choosing to use his grappling. And the crowd certainly wasn’t happy when Michael Page’s name was read, after what was a fairly back-an-forth fight. Page now moves on to face Douglas Lima in the welterweight grand prix semi-finals.
Michael Page def. Paul Daley by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)