Bellator 267: A Critical Bout for Former Foes Lima and “Venom” Page

Michael Page and Douglas Lima, Bellator 267
Michael Page and Douglas Lima, Bellator 267 weigh-in Credit: Bellator MMA

Former Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima has excelled in rematches, but this time striking dynamo Michael “Venom” Page has the home field advantage at Bellator 267.

You know the story that Douglas Lima has written.  With a record of 32-9, he has established himself in Bellator as one of the best talents outside of the powerhouse of the UFC.  Between 2012 and 2019, Lima crushed the best opposition the promotion had to offer as he added names like Lorenz Larkin, Paul Daley, Ben Saunders, and others to his resume.  Though his run was not perfect, it led to arguably his greatest victories as he reclaimed the title from Andrey Koreshkov and later against Rory MacDonald, the latter coming in the finals of the welterweight Grand Prix.

The last two years have not been as stellar for “The Phenom.”  Last year, following nearly 12 months away from the cage, he came up short in a bid to win the middleweight title against Gegard Mousasi.  This past June, he lost the welterweight title to the undefeated Yaroslav Amosov.  Both are respectable opponents, to be fair.  But considering he has been a professional since 2006, there is question if the miles on his body may be starting to catch up to him.  The stage is set for him to silence those conversations, facing a familiar dynamic foe in their home country and carrying the mental advantage that he has already devastated him in the cage once before.

Michael “Venom” Page has made a career of making highlight reel knockouts look too easy.  He is 19-1 in MMA, with most of his career coming inside the Bellator cage where he debuted in 2013.  Since then, he has become must-see television with most his victories coming by some way of knockout and his post-fight celebrations breaking the mold as he pays homage to various martial arts movies or anime that has led to him becoming arguably the most popular fighter in the company to never hold a title.

Page has created a love-hate relationship in terms of his fan’s feelings towards his success.  On the one hand, he is recognized as one of the preeminent strikers in the game and there is great excitement to see him perform.  However, his noticeable diet of non-grapplers and opponents with questionable records after several years as a contender has many feeling he has been allowed to inflate his record.  Should he best Lima, particularly in dramatic fashion, it would set up the ultimate opportunity to prove the critics wrong as he would get the chance to face the champion Amosov in an intriguing striker vs grappler matchup.

Stylistically, speed and volume are expected to be the major factor in the fight.  For Lima, he must mix-up his attack and pressure Page as to not be lured into falling behind in a three round bout.  While it was not a major factor in the first fight, his grappling could be the x-factor if he is able to get Page down and maintain top control to neutralize the striking of MVP.  For Page, output and timing will be the key as he is expected to be able to get in-and-out against the more plodding Lima.  While Page frequently drops his hands and makes opponents weary, he may benefit more from a more conventional striking approach where he can more easily defend himself and maintain a high output.

A victory for Lima is expected to put him in position to take on another rising contender such as Jason Jackson or Neiman Gracie where the winner could be put in position to challenge for the title.  For Page, a victory is expected to lock in a title shot in what would be one of the most anticipated fights of 2022 for Bellator.  A large part of that may also hinge on the reception in London.  Bellator has committed to maintaining a strong presence in Europe, but having a star like Page headline a title fight in the UK if all goes well on Friday could be a whole other level entirely for the promotion.