Bellator 216 main event between British welterweights Michael “Venom” Page and Paul Daley on Saturday, February 16th at 10pm ET is billed as the biggest matchup in British mixed martial arts history. So, naturally, Uncasville, Connecticut, would host Bellator’s latest matchup in its Welterweight Grand Prix.
If not for sheer logistical convenience — not to mention family, friends and a nation of British MMA fans who’ve been waiting to see these bitter rivals finally face off in the cage — London would’ve made the logical choice for both fighters.
But just like East Coasters forced to make adjustments during Tuesday’s icy winter conditions, Page and Daley had to adapt to landing nearly 4,500 miles across the Atlantic and are now fully geared to what’s been the called the tournament’s most anticipated matchup.
“It was a little frustrating at the beginning,” Page said Tuesday in Lower Manhattan, where he, along with Daley, were in town promoting Saturday’s Bellator 216 event. “It was a fight made in the U.K., between two U.K. fighters — everything about it said it needed to be in the U.K. Then they moved it to Connecticut. But you get over it. I’ve fought in the U.S. quite often, but this should’ve been in the U.K.
Besides their main event, Saturday’s Bellator 216, which will be livestreamed exclusively on DAZN, will also feature heavyweights Cheick Kongo vs. Vitaly Minakov along with MMA legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic making his Bellator debut against Roy Nelson.
Daley (40-16-12), a veteran of nearly 60 pro MMA fights, agreed with his opponent that having the U.K. host the fight would’ve made most sense but that Bellator did what they could and now it’s time to fight. “To fans and family [in the U.K.] it was disappointing,” he said. “But I’m comfortable fighting in America. I’ve fought here plenty of times. I now have a routine; I know how to get to fight day comfortably and feel energized and excited.”
Plenty of action expected in this Bellator 216 rivalry
With less than a week till their fight, both have finished the heavy training sessions and are now down to drill work and light treadmill running at the hotel gym in order to make weight. Both see making Friday’s 170-pound weight limit the only obstacle when it comes to fight travel, yet don’t see it being any distraction for Saturday’s fight. “My first time [fighting in the U.S.], I thought orange chicken from Panda Express was healthy,” he said. “Now, fruit and a protein bar will do. Nothing exciting or minimalistic, I’m just enjoying the experience.”
Daley however disagreed about any rivalry between the two, considering Page recently told ESPN he considered Daley a “disgusting person.” “In my mind, this is a fabricated rivalry to hide my opponent’s insecurities. To me, it’s another fight. To Michael Page, it’s a rivalry. I’m just here to knock him out.”
The outspoken Page (13-0) is perhaps best known for his devastating knee kick that fractured the skull of Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos in 2016. In his last bout at Bellator 200, Page forced David Rickels to quit midway through the second round. “It was frustrating at first,” said of his opponents no mas. “In the moment, having someone pull away was frustrating. Afterward, thinking that that was a tough man I put away like, that says a lot. I kind of enjoyed it.”
But there’s only one way Page wants to see Saturday’s bout to end. “I want to put someone to sleep. Someone who I’m not close with.”