Bellator 216 breakdown: Who prevails when British bangers Michael Page, Paul Daley finally clash?

MMAjunkie Radio co-host and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom breaks down Bellator’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main event for Bellator 216.

Bellator 216 takes place Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main card streams on DAZN following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Paul Daley (40-16-2 MMA, 6-3 BMMA)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 35 Weight: 170 lbs. Reach: 75″
  • Last fight: Decision loss to Jon Fitch (May 12, 2018)
  • Camp: Mike’s Gym/Spirit Dojo (England)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/muay Thai
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:
+ Regional MMA titles
+ Multiple muay Thai accolades
+ 30 KO victories
+ 2 submission wins
+ 19 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Solid feints and footwork
^ Seldom out of position
+ Devastating left hook
^ Coming forward or off the counter
+ Dangerous knees and elbows
+ Strong inside of the clinch
^ Strikes well off the breaks
+ Improved wrestling abilities
+ Serviceable ground game

Michael Page (13-0 MMA, 9-0 BMMA)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 31 Weight: 170 lbs. Reach: 77″
  • Last fight: TKO win over Dave Rickels (May 25, 2018)
  • Camp: London Shootfighters (England)
  • Stance/striking style: Switch-stance/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Multiple kickboxing accolades and titles
+ Pro boxing experience
+ 8 KO victories
+ 3 submission wins
+ 9 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Creative feints and footwork
^ Shoulder fakes, lateral movement, etc.
+ Accurate right hand
^ Coming forward or off the counter
+ Dynamic kicking variety
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Solid defensive fundamentals and separations
+ Shows serviceable ground skills
^ Incorporates leg dexterity well

Point of interest: Feints and footwork

The main event for Bellator 216 features a feud between two strikers whose operating systems couldn’t be further apart – especially when it comes to their feints and footwork.

Born into a family of martial artists, Michael Page was indoctrinated into combat arts straight away. Initially getting into more traditional martial arts like kung fu, the Englishman eventually moved on to other competitive avenues such as sport karate and freestyle kickboxing, where he earned several accolades and tournament titles.

Say what you will about traditional martial arts or point fighting, but Page’s style – as creative and incomparable as it may seem – highlights one of the most commonly overlooked positives provided by such experience: the understanding of striking range and how to comfortably navigate said space (especially if you grew up in this environment as Page did).

Whether he is leaping laterally out of defensive instinct or launching inward offensively, Page seems quite confident in his reads and routes. More importantly, the 31-year-old phenom marries his reactive footwork with deceptive feints that help disguise his assaults, as well as disrupts his opposition’s rhythm.

Appearing to be blatant demonstrations of showmanship upon initial impression, there is – believe it or not – a quiet brilliance behind the method to Page’s madness.

A self-proclaimed snake charmer, Page will distract his opponents by making them look at the proverbial birdy before delivering pinpoint punches down the pipe. Moreover, when Page appears to be borderline mocking his counterparts with shoulder-shucking dance moves, he is actually throwing away any potential reads his opponent may be making on him, which simultaneously helps hide his approach.

For example, many strikers will tell you that they tend to keep a general focus between their opposition’s shoulders, as this will typically give them an indication of the whens and wheres of their counterpart’s offense. So, with that in mind, it’s not hard to see why Page can be so difficult for fighters to get a beat on during his dance-likes displays.

Nevertheless, Page will be put through one of the most legitimate litmus tests as far as MMA striking is concerned when he meets rival Brit Paul Daley.

Also introduced to martial arts at a young age, Daley began his journey in the karate realm before transitioning over to muay Thai – a sport in which he would go on to earn many accolades. And after a stint in the British Army, the man known as “Semtex” stormed the MMA scene, accruing memorable highlight-reel knockouts over names like Duane Ludwig and Scott Smith during his ascension.

Working behind a solid high guard, Daley typically stalks forward behind a steady dose of feints and fakes, attempting to draw out any potential strikes or wrestling shots coming his way.

The 35-year-old vet also throws straight shots superbly like jabs or crosses, but his cleanup-hitting weapon of choice is clearly his left hook. And with his preferred arsenal keeping him nicely in balance, Daley tends to be the fighter more set to counter and capitalize inside of exchanges.

However, when Daley has been drawn out of his shell of operations, we have seen his otherwise stellar game become surprisingly susceptible, leading us to our next point of interest…

Next point of interest: Frustration and feelings

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