From Bellator to UFC: Michael ‘Venom’ Page details how BKFC appearance tipped him off to interest

MIAMI – The UFC doesn’t often aggressively pursue Bellator stars in free agency. There have been cases however, from Eddie Alvarez to Michael Chandler and beyond. Michael Page is among them.

Page (21-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) debuts Saturday against Kevin Holland (25-10 MMA, 12-7 UFC) on the UFC 299 main card at Kaseya Center. MVP signed with the promotion in December following a 19-fight stint with Bellator.

Despite his promotional allegiance, Page always openly stated he’d one day fight in the UFC. After all, it’s the brand that sparked his interest long ago.

“It was my intention at the start,” Page told MMA Junkie and other reporters Wednesday at a pre-fight news conference. “It wasn’t something that I ever lost sight of. I was a typical fan before, so only knew UFC. I was the probably the guy who would ask you, ‘Do you do UFC?’ at the time. … I never lost sight of wanting to eventually come here at some point, just because it was my original goal.”

For nine years, Page built his brand in Bellator through his highlight reel knockouts and flashy fighting style. But he only became aware he had widespread market value when he took a one-off BKFC bout against Mike Perry in August 2020.

“Their first reach out, which was kind of a mistake on their part, because it kind of showed their interest,” Page said. “Basically when I did my bareknuckle fight and I announced that I did my bareknuckle fight, people started reaching out like, ‘Oh, is he a free agent?’ The UFC reached out like, ‘Is he a free agent?’ So we’re like, ‘Oh, somebody is interested, huh?’ So obviously that was them initiating it. It was like, ‘No, no, still with Bellator and got X amount of fights, but I’ve got this amount of time left and we can speak thereafter. The conversation just remained open. We just kind of started from there and it’s weird.”

Negotiations dragged on through 2023 after Page’s final Bellator fight in March of that year. Page weighed his options but ultimately decided on the promotion he first fell in love with as a fan. He thinks it was the right call.

“It’s been amazing, getting to know the team over here,” Page said. “The team over here is just so organized, so on point, so welcoming, so hospitable, so helpful. It really does feel like I’ve been signed to a football team, getting all the facilities. It’s just done at a top-tier level – so professional. Yeah, I’m excited, man. I’m happy to be here.

“… It’s a new experience, but I embrace new experiences. I always say I love being a student and learning new things. So that’s how I feel. It just feels like I’m experiencing new things. I’m just soaking it all in. Come Saturday, I get to release that, all that energy.”

For years, Page has heard the critics accuse him of not consistently fighting Bellator’s best opposition. Regardless, Page acknowledges he has no time to waste in the UFC, as he turns 37 in April.

“I don’t do things just to make up numbers,” Page said. “I’m here for the belt. I’m here to get the bling. Getting to the top is key, which is why I start with somebody of the likes of Kevin Holland. It needs to be that type of challenge. I don’t have that time to build myself up and I don’t need to. That was a conversation that I had with the UFC. They were equally in agreement of that and I think they showed their intentions of giving me Kevin Holland first. … (I predict) a big entertaining knockout and maybe another spectacular knockout, too, and then the belt.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 299.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie