Although Michael “Venom” Page has unbeaten Ross Houston in front of him on Saturday when the two collide in the main event of Bellator 248 in Paris, he isn’t hiding from the fact that all he can think about is current welterweight champion Douglas Lima.
Page (17-1), the brash and exciting 170-pound fighter from England, owes the lone defeat on his pro record to Lima by second-round knockout during their 2019 semifinal bout in the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix tournament. Although the 33-year-old Page has rebounded with three straight wins, all by knockout, he remains on a quest for revenge that means more to him than a world title.
“I have no interest in competing against anybody else other than Douglas Lima,” Page told CBS Sports HQ on Wednesday. “He moved up to middleweight to challenge Gegard Mousasi for the title and regardless of where he wants to go — and we are questioning whether he will even come back down — wherever he is, that’s where I want to be. Wherever he sleeps, I’m going to be sleeping there. Wherever he eats, I’m going to be eating there.
“If he wants to move to middleweight, that’s where I’m going to be. If he wants to move to light heavyweight or heavyweight, that’s where I’m going to be. Either way, that’s the fight I want.”
Lima will face Mousasi for Bellator’s vacant 185-pound title on Oct. 29 and it remains to be seen, win or lose, whether he will continue campaigning as the welterweight champion. Should Lima stay, Bellator MMA president Scott Coker believes Page might be one spectacular victory away from getting that title rematch in this weekend’s 175-pound catchweight fight against Houston.
“[Page] has a great record and he had a bit of a hiccup against our current champion Douglas Lima,” Coker told CBS Sports HQ on Wednesday. “I know he wants to avenge that fight but he has to fight Houston first. [Houston] was a champion in an other organization before joining us. This is one of the toughest fights MVP has had and I know he is looking forward to it. He has a lot riding on the line here.
“Basically, it’s not just for the UK bragging rights but also the title implications are going to be severe. Whoever wins this fight, if they look good and have a good outing here, we are definitely going to consider them for a title shot against Douglas Lima.”
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Houston, 33, is a native of Scotland who is fresh off a successful run through the Cage Warriors’ welterweight division. But he will need to contend with a level of showmanship and athleticism from Page that is rarely seen in MMA, even at the elite level.
“[Page] is one of the most talented athletes you have ever seen. This guy could have been a boxer, an MMA fighter; he could have been a basketball player or a football player,” Coker said. “He can do whatever he wants to do, this guy is so incredibly gifted. He has been able to do things inside the cage I have never seen anybody do before.”
While this unique event will see the main card go first with the prelims second, there will also be a second overall fight card following Bellator 248 on Saturday called Bellator Paris. As the first major promotion to be granted a license for MMA in the country, Bellator MMA is taking advantage of it with a two-fight card showcasing a French legend. Cheick Kongo is set to take on Timothy Johnson in a heavyweight contest while Saul Rogers battles Arbi Mezhidov at featherweight.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the card and how you can watch all the action.
Bellator 248 main card (11:30 a.m. ET)
Michael “Venom” Page vs. Ross Houston, 175-pound catchweights
Oliver Enkamp vs. Emmanuel Dawa, welterweights
Ryan Scope vs. Alan Omer, 160-pound catchweights
Mads Burnell vs. Darko Banovic, featherweights
Bellator 248 prelims (1:45 p.m. ET)
Terry Brazier vs. Yves Landu, lightweights
Ilias Bulaid vs. Ivan Naccari, lightweights
Dominique Wooding vs. Fabacary Diatta, featherweights
Maguy Berchel vs. Lucie Bertaud, flyweights
Jean N’Doye (145) vs. Ciaran Clarke, featherweights
Dylan Logan vs. William Gomis, featherweights
Bellator Paris card (5 p.m. ET)
Cheick Kongo vs. Timothy Johnson, heavyweights
Saul Rogers vs. Arbi Mezhidov, featherweights
Date: Oct. 10 | Start time: 11:30 a.m. (main card)
Location: AccorHotels Arena
TV Channel: CBS Sports Network | Live stream: CBSSports.com (authentication required)
You can also stream the prelims after the main card for free without authentication here
Houston brings a credible enough record and toughness for Page to need to take him seriously. This fight also has legitimate stakes considering a title shot could be in order as a reward for a spectacular win.
Bridging the gap of juggling his unorthodox and high-wire fighting style with more conventional methods has always been a bit of a crapshoot for Page, who got caught and was knocked out clean by Lima with a counter shot.
Luckily for Page, Houston doesn’t appear to be on that level. Look for Page to rely on his length and quickness to pot-shot from the outside. As long as he can avoid taking too many chances or getting into a brawl on the inside, Page should be able to set the kind of traps which lead to a finish. It just may take some time.