Following defeat to Logan Storley last May, Michael ‘Venom’ Page was twitchy.
In taking minimal damage while being out-wrestled for Bellator’s interim welterweight title in front of his home fans in London, Page, nicknamed ‘MVP’, wanted a swift return to action.
The 35-year-old was left in limbo however, with the promotion telling him they “‘didn’t have any suitable opponents on hand and he would have to wait'”.
Without wanting to wait, Page turned to bare-knuckle boxing and, after gaining approval from Bellator, fought against Mike Perry in BKFC in August – losing by majority decision
It was then that Page took time to re-evaluate his career and goals.
“After [the Perry] fight, I’ve focused on restructuring myself. I’ve written a couple of scripts. I’m looking to do some acting work as well,” Page tells BBC Sport.
“I think now I’ve started to put in other goals for myself – fighting doesn’t feel forever. Before it did.
“My bread and butter is the fighting but it’s not infinite because I’m planning other things. But I still love combat.”
Before his next fight against Goiti Yamauchi at Bellator 292 on Friday, Page tells BBC Sport more about his writing, his desire to win a world title and how his legacy has inspired budding fighters like KSI.
Following an 11-year MMA career which has yielded 20 wins from 22 bouts, Page has started to consider the options available when he retires.
Just before lockdown in 2020, Page began writing a script for a martial arts-based comic – a project which has blossomed into an ambitious idea for a TV series.
“I’ve been able to push the idea to a few people. 50 Cent is actually interested in it. He’s done loads of movies. Nothing confirmed, but hopefully I should be meeting him and his team,” said Page.
“Nothing could come out of it but we’ll talk about what potentially could happen.”
Page aims to write, play an acting role and be involved in choregraphing the fight scenes for a series which draws from “old school” martial arts-based shows.
“I’m trying to bring back the type of martial arts stuff I was raised on. All the animal kung-fu styles that I used to watch when I was younger on screen, I want to bring that back and modernise it,” said Page.
“When [TV series] Gangs of London came out everyone was going nuts about it. The hand-to-hand combat is epic, but it’s not old school for me.
“I was raised on a particular style – Jackie Chan, Jet Li – I want to see it again.”
‘100% I want to win a world title’
Despite Page’s creative ambitions, winning a world title – which has so far eluded him – remains one of his key goals.
Page is currently second in the Bellator welterweight rankings and because of the dominant manner of champion Yaroslav Amosov’s victory over Storley in Dublin last month, a win over Brazil’s Japan-born Yamauchi would put him back in the frame for a title shot.
“Titles are important. We’re prize fighters but it’s nice to fight for something,” said Page.
“100% I want to win a world title. It was so frustrating to lose that way [to Storley] and being so close. I kind of accepted it at the time.
“I thought Logan won but then people were telling me backstage I should have got it and I heard [Bellator president] Scott Coker say it. I watched it back and I could see what they mean, but it wasn’t my time.”
However, Page does admit it is harder to stay motivated the older he gets.
“Sometimes you wake up and are thinking ‘why am I going to training? I don’t have to do this any more’,” he says.
“Financially I don’t need to fight. You kind of lose that motivation. It’s not like we do it just for the money, we do it for the love as well but as you get older you do think ‘do I really want to keep smashing my body every day’?
“You can bounce back when you’re younger. Now, when you’ve already achieved a lot, it gets harder and harder. But I love it too much. If I’m away from it for even a few days I get twitchy. I want to get back in the gym, I want to spar, I want to grapple.”
‘I could retire and be happy’
Although Page is yet to win a world title, he remains happy with his achievements in the sport.
Page has finished 16 of his 22 fights, including some devastating knockouts against the likes of Evangelista ‘Cyborg’ Santos and Giovanni Melillo.
Page points to his signature “bouncing” kickboxing stance as an influence on fellow fighters, including YouTube personality KSI and team-mate Norbert Novenyi Jr.
“I think I’ve done well for myself being someone who hasn’t won a title. That’s so important to many people. But world champions can be not known at all,” said Page.
“It’s not all about fame, but I do feel I am known and very well respected with what I deliver. Even the other day, KSI was fighting and did the bounce that I brought to the table and knocked the guy out in the way I would.
“This is because he trains with us. My coaches are always sharing with my partners.
“My legacy is there. I feel I’ve done a lot and put a lot into the sport without achieving the ultimate goal that everyone is striving for, so 100% I could retire today and be happy.”
Source – BBC Sport