Welterweight contender Michael "Venom" Page avenged the lone defeat of his career on Friday against former three-time champion Douglas Lima to likely secure a title shot. But the scorecards were anything but a consensus following Bellator 267 in London.
Page (20-1) improved to 6-0 since his 2019 knockout loss against Lima (32-10) by coming away with a split decision in front of a raucous and partisan Wembley Arena crowd in Page's home city. The 170-pound rematch was scheduled for just three rounds despite it serving as the fight card's main event.
Although the action was largely slow and tense as Page stalked his opponent throughout with his hands down amid heavy feinting, the 34-year-old Lima worked in key takedowns late in Round 1 and 3 to appear to do enough to win. But Page took home identical 29-28 scorecards while the third went to Lima by the same score.
CBS Sports also scored it 29-28 for Lima, who outlanded Page in all categories including total strikes by a margin of 25-17, according to stats provided for the broadcast by BD-Sport Inc.
"You know me already, I want to put on a show. I apologize I didn't do that," Page said. "I wanted to finish, but [Lima] is a tough man. I understand why he has been champion three times. He just kept coming and started to adjust and got more difficult."
The loss sends Lima to his third straight following back-to-back defeats in title bouts against middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi and new welterweight titleholder Yarsoslav Amosov. After the fight, the 33-year-old Page let it known he should be next in line for the unbeaten champion's 170-pound title.
"Now I want that bling, now I want that bling," Page said. "I have come over and I have got my redemption, now I want that bling. The one and only MVP is back!"
The dynamic Page scored a pair of running knockdowns in the first half of Round 1 by landing clean left hands from the southpaw stance. But Lima began to settle in by landing calf strikes. The native of Brazil ducked a right hand attempt from Page and scored a takedown to land top position, which he would hold for the remainder of the round.
The pace slowed considerably in Round 2 as Page nearly had a repeat of how his 2019 loss to Lima played out in their semifinal bout of the Bellator World Grand Prix. Lima wobbled Page with a leg strike and caught him only partially with an uppercut as Page tried to regain his balance. Unlike their first fight, the punch proved unable to knock Page down or out.
"Fool me once, fool me once," Page said. "I saw that punch coming and you know I'm good at slipping."
Page rocked Lima late in Round 2 with a left hand that might have been enough to steal the round. But the final round saw Page far too patient in his attack as Lima wobbled him with a leg strike before dropping Page early with a left hook.
With just over two minutes to go, Lima scored another key takedown and worked in a pair of elbows from top position to finish the round. Despite the manner in which the fight ended, Page said he had no fear while waiting to hear the decision.
"I was confident," Page said. "To be fair, I knew he was going to go for a takedown. Every single striker that stands in front of me, I turn them into wrestlers."