Bellator 216 predictions, picks -- Michael Page vs. Paul Daley: Fight card, start time, how to watch, odds
Previewing the Bellator grudge match set to take place on Saturday
It has taken so long for Saturday's welterweight bout between Michael Page and Paul Daley at Bellator 216 to come to fruition, but regardless of the reasoning behind the delay of the much-anticipated showdown, both fighters have echoed the thoughts of countless fans in being happy it's finally here.
This quarterfinal bout of the Bellator MMA Welterweight World Grand Prix tournament (DAZN, 10 p.m. ET) matching brash British stars is one of the best that can be made in both the promotion and the 170-pound division at large from a worldwide standpoint. It's one that has also featured a ton of colorful exchanges between the two on the road to arriving here.
"I just want to get this job done now. It has been awhile," Page told CBS Sports on Tuesday. "I first accepted the fight just over two years ago when I ended up fighting [Evangelista] 'Cyborg' [Santos]. There was no animosity there at the time, I was just given the opportunity and said I would happily accept that fight and was turned down by [Daley].
"I was just constantly asking for it and didn't know what the hold up was. There was always one kind of excuse on his side but it has made this what it is and has built it to where we are now."
While Daley (40-16-2) agrees that Page has been waiting a long time for the fight, he said it was more important to wait until the time was right. Although Daley's name wasn't initially included when Bellator CEO Scott Coker announced the tournament bracket last summer, the 35-year-old veteran slugger became a late addition once he was able to iron out a new deal.
Page (13-0), who carries the dual nickname of "Venom" and "MVP," is a worldwide star waiting to happen. Freakishly tall for a welterweight at 6-foot-3, the 31-year-old Page has provided Bellator with a number of highlight-reel moments due to his length and creative striking. Yet despite the excitement Page has created as a homegrown Bellator star, he has yet to fight an opponent as dangerous and experienced as Daley, whose powerful hands have fueled his nickname of "Semtex."
"He is a very talented fighter," Daley said. "He has performed extremely well in the fights he has had. He has had a few spectacular finishes that have fogged up a few people's glasses. In certain fights he has done very well for himself, and I give him credit for that, but on Feb. 16 he will lose and will get knocked out."
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Page disputes the notion that Daley represents any larger of a test than the ones he has recently passed so dominantly against the likes of Santos (via devastating flying knee) and David Rickels, the latter of which saw Page force "The Caveman" to effectively quit the fight out of one-sided frustration.
Despite the visual evidence, though, Daley disputes the notion that he will be facing some kind of highlight artist who is capable of producing viral finishes.
"You mean one of the three he has against lesser opposition other than myself?" Daley said. "Listen, when you have to throw a punch, you have to throw a punch. He's not going to be doing those spider arms and dancing while he throws a punch. A lot of people's glasses have been fogged up.
"This type of style, there is always an antidote do it. I point to Naseem Hamed and Marco Antonio Barrera [in boxing], and in this sport, Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva. Some people can believe the hype so much and believe you can find the same way against every opponent, but that's not going to happen at all."
A confusing narrative for both the fighters and their home fans in England has surrounded why Saturday's bout is taking place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, as opposed to anywhere else in the U.K. The decision, which Coker has publicly explained, came down to an inability to land a big enough arena in Great Britain.
"Obviously, [the location] was disappointing even for myself because when you envision fights, you kind of picture the location of where it's going to be," Page said. "You kind of see everything and where it's going to go. And obviously I have so many more contacts in the U.K. I feel like I could have done more with this show and put more of a show on and the kind of people that would've been in attendance.
"It would have been amazing. I think it is what it is. It's annoying but I'm not going to keep crying because I got the fight that I wanted and everyone is still going to see it."
Despite the back-and-forth nature of the fight's build in terms of trash talking, Daley said it has never become personal from his standpoint, and he considers himself a much more mature fighter at this age who won't put himself in compromising situations that can lead to him getting knocked out.
Bellator 216 fight card, odds
Michael Page -225
Paul Daley +175
Vitaly Minakov -450
Cheick Kongo +325
Mirko Cro Cop -225
Roy Nelson +175
Yaroslov Amosov -250
Erick Silva +195
Valerie Loureda n/a
Colby Fletcher n/a
"To be honest with you, I think it's childish and he has been clutching straws to try and get inside my head, and quite honestly, it's terrible for him because he is going to end up drowning," Daley said. "I don't like things to get personal. I never really to personal in any of the fights. The fight is between myself and that person.
"What [fans] really want to see is what they can expect -- an explosive, entertaining fight. It will be everything that they want."
Page, who is 9-0 under the Bellator banner with seven finishes, said he very much respects Daley's power but considers him an emotional fighter who will crumble under the pressure of his dynamic style.
"You are going to see a very flamboyant, extremely over-the-top MVP and a very frustrated Paul 'Semtex' Daley," Page said. "Through that frustration, he's going to make a critical mistake that is going to leave him on the floor and give him the realization that we are not on the same level and I am that much better than him."
The danger that Daley possesses with power in both hands is very much real for Page, who hasn't yet proven himself to be a true elite. Yet it's hard to look past Daley's age and mileage, mixed with the fact that he has made a habit of losing each time he steps up to the highest level. Page is such a next-level athlete and dangerous finisher who controls distance so well and surprises with strikes his opponents never see coming. Eventually, someone will make him pay for his thrilling and somewhat reckless approach of taking chances to land a flashy shot. Daley hasn't given the impression of late, however, that he still has it in him to be that guy.
Look for Page to fluster Daley and make him pay with quick counters each time he looks to load up. Similar to Page's prediction above, eventually Daley will revert to his default status of going for broke and will pay the price in a spectacular defeat.
Pick: Michael Page via third-round TKO
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