Michael Page: Fighters like Michael Chandler are encouraged to be more ruthless than to be true martial artists

Michael Page is a big fan of fellow Bellator Michael Chandler, but believes he, like many other fighters, is trading his health and championship awards for fanfare and positive feedback from the UFC.

Chandler delivered a Knockout of the Year contender at UFC 274, take out Tony Ferguson with a flush front kick. Page was very impressed with the finish but says Chandler’s early struggles against Ferguson are a product of his own recklessness.

“The whole world saw it. What an epic finish. I think it was a chaotic start from both fighters,” Page told CBS Sports ahead of his headlining welterweight title fight at Bellator 281. “To be fair, nowadays it feels like everyone has just more game to there getting in and I call it 50-50 fights. They go in there, they have all the skills in the world, but they don’t care about the game plan anymore. They are more interested in placating the owners [and] to placate the crowd, but in the wrong way for me.

“I remember my trainer would always say to me — obviously we don’t have it in Bellator, but when we did it in the UFC or other shows — he said, ‘I never want either of you guys to get the fight that night . Never ever. Because it just means you’ve just lost years of your life. You can get submission of the night, you can get KO of the night, but I never want to see any of my fighters get fight of the night.'”

Watch the full interview with Michael “Venom” Page below.

Page suggests that the promoters encourage fighters to risk their health more than necessary by treating favorably those who throw caution to the wind.

“I think it’s because of how the system is set up. It’s designed to give more of a spotlight to those who are ready,” Page said. “The majority of people who see it aren’t real martial artists. They don’t pay attention to the details of the art. They just want blood. People that are out there willing to give it, technically you’re placating the masses, which means more people are going to spend money I think. So the promoters say, ‘Yeah, that’s what we want.'”

MVP lays claim to one of the most spectacular and terrifying KOs in MMA history. During a 2016 fight with Evangelista Santos at Bellator 158, Page caught Santos with a flush flying knee. It was an unusual ending. Santos, still visibly conscious, fell face first onto the mat, clutching his face. It was later determined that he suffered a fractured frontal sinus and his forehead was visibly dented inward.

“It’s weird because it always leaves a dent, pardon the pun, in terms of how you actually want to celebrate,” Page said, reflecting on the KO. “I’m happy in the sense that I didn’t know about the injury until the next day because that night I was able to really enjoy my moment. Since then it’s hard to go back and be super proud of it. We did everything right, the timing was good, the fight in general and of course the win, but then it’s hard to be super happy about what happened on the other side.

“I didn’t even know that was possible, to be fair, but we agree almost to death in this sport. Not to try to make it seem so malicious because very rarely would you ever hear about it, but for that you just sign up.” Michael Page: Fighters like Michael Chandler are encouraged to be more ruthless than to be true martial artists

Justin Scacco

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