Michael ‘Venom’ Page is still undefeated after earning a unanimous decision victory over Paul Daley in a back and forth grappling battle for the better part of 25 minutes.
That’s not a misprint because Daley was constantly hunting for the takedown throughout the final four rounds while Page was playing defense and trying to counter his veteran opponent in what was billed as one of the biggest grudge matches in Bellator history.
Unfortunately the end result didn’t quite live up to the hype ahead of the contest.
The opening round largely turned into a staring contest with Page stalking Daley across the cage but never really unleashing any big combinations while still controlling the distance to earn the points on the judges’ scorecards.
Daley then surprised just about everybody in attendance and watching at home when he dove for Page’s legs during the second round and secured a takedown.
From that moment, Daley’s game plan was evident as the British knockout artist was constantly pressing forward and then looking for openings to bring Page to the ground. Page managed to resist some of his takedown attempts but it appeared even he was shocked at Daley’s approach in their highly anticipated showdown.
While Page never really adjusted to completely shut down Daley’s wrestling attacks, he did manage to find enough openings to land some solid counter strikes and even slip in a few reversals over the final four rounds.
Page did uncork a flying knee that snapped Daley’s head back during one exchange, although he wasn’t able to follow up to inflict much more damage.
Perhaps the best moment of the fight for Page came in the final stanza when he reversed positions on Daley, taking his back and nearly locking on a rear naked choke submission. Daley wiggled his way free but that final exchange on the mat likely put Page ahead for the round, which ultimately earned him the victory on the scorecards.
All three judges agreed with 48-47 scores handed to Page, who now moves onto the next round of the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix.
“He didn’t come into fight. MVP came into fight,” Page said while admonishing Daley for his strategy after the fight ended.
It’s not likely that Page and Daley settled their rivalry based on that fight but regardless they will have to wait until a later date if they want to attempt it again.
For now, Page will take his undefeated record into the next round of the welterweight tournament where he will face former two-time Bellator champion Douglas Lima on May 11.
“It’s gonna be a massive honor to share the cage with someone I respect,” Page said about Lima following his win.
For his part, Lima actually predicted Daley’s strategy before the fight with Page started when he was asked to breakdown the matchup just before the main event got underway.
While the fight didn’t produce the fireworks anyone expected, Lima is still excited to face Page in the next round of the Grand Prix with the winner then moving onto the finals later this year.
“Expect fireworks when we get in here May 11,” Lima stated. “He’s a puzzle that is yet to be solved.”
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Mirko Cro Cop Exacts Revenge
In the co-main event, Mirko Cro Cop remained undefeated in rematches as he exacted revenge against Roy Nelson in their three round heavyweight clash.
Cro Cop showed superior striking and takedown defense while cracking Nelson with several stinging shots over 15 minutes to ultimately earn the victory.
It was definitely a close fight but Cro Cop got the job done by landing better strikes and shrugging off Nelson’s wrestling attempts for the majority of the contest. Cro Cop has now won his last 10 fights in a row dating back to 2014.
Cheick Kongo Earns Title Shot
Cheick Kongo also secured a heavyweight title shot after he earned a unanimous decision victory over previously undefeated former champion Vitaly Minakov in his first fight back in Bellator in nearly five years.
Minakov didn’t do himself any favors with a questionable strategy through the first two rounds where he seemed willing to stand with Kongo rather than taking the fight to the ground. Kongo did a good job punishing him as much as possible whenever Minakov did get inside and it seems the damage done with his strikes is what ultimately swayed the judges in his favor.
Kongo is currently riding an eight fight win streak and has now secured a title shot against new Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader.