UFC bantamweight Damacio Page just keeps plugging away.
It doesn't matter that he's seemingly been one of the unluckiest fighters in MMA. Over the past two years, he's been thankful to even have one fight per year, what with the nagging injuries and all. Facing a former champion and a recent title challenger, he didn't win those bouts either.
Once one of the most feared 135-pounders on the planet, "The Angel of Death" had to take up a side job remodeling houses just to make ends meet.
Now, after a successful vertebrae fusion surgery, he's healthy enough to train regularly and he's hoping his luck will be changing too. Page hopes to begin his resurgence when he steps into the cage against Brad Picket next week (April 14, 2012) at UFC on FUEL TV 2 in Stockholme, Sweden.
Page spoke with MMAmania.com during a special guest appearance on The Verbal Submission earlier this week and he had plenty to say about his unlucky streak, finally being healthy again and what he expects to bring to the Octagon come Saturday night in Sweden.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): It's been over a year since you've competed inside the Octagon so what's it like to be back and ready to fight?
Damacio Page: It feels kinda good. I guess it's like a reoccurring event because the last time I was out for a year and I came back but you know what, let's not make that a habit anymore. (laughs) I'm done sitting out for a while year. It feels good. I had some big injuries the last couple years but now I'm fixed. This last injury was a broken neck. I had to get my C5 and C6 fused together but I feel better than I ever have. I actually stopped drinking, I haven't drank in over a year and a half and I think that has a lot to do with how I'm feeling this time around.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You said that you had the C5 and C6 vertebrae in your neck fused, so how did that injury happen or was that something that you'd been fighting with for a while and you just finally decided to get it taken care of?
Damacio Page: It was just a little pain. I'd probably had it for a while but just didn't realize it going through my fights. This last fight, i was getting ready for Kid Yamamoto and I felt paralyzed and I was like, "Oh, I need to get this fixed." My whole body went numb and I couldn't feel my body for like four or five seconds.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Wow, you just landed on it wrong while wrestling or what?
Damacio Page: No, I was wrestling. I snapped a guy down and he was getting up and I usually use my chin on the back of their head to hold them down, it feels like I'm using three limbs instead of just the two arms so I was holding two arms at the arm pits and I put my chin behind the head and I snapped him down and as soon as we hit the mat it sent a jolt down my back and everything. It didn't feel too good. I went home and was like, "It's alright, I'll walk it off. It's cool, it's cool," and I went home and I went to go take a shower and when the water hit my skin, the pain was mounting so I knew that wasn't good at all. I couldn't sleep good for like two to three days.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now I know you're a guy that uses your tattoos as a mosaic of your life so did you get any tattoos to describe what you went through with that?
Damacio Page: I got a Bruce Lee tattoo on my left thigh. You've got to live it, you've got to believe it and you've got to love it. Plain and simple, everything you do every day.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's talk a little bit about this upcoming fight. You've never fought in Europe, I know you've fought in Japan a few times but what's it going to be like to go all the way to Sweden to fight over there against a European fighter in Brad Pickett?
Damacio Page: I think it's great. I've never been to Europe. I might stay around a few days after the fight and just check out the scenery. It's good. It's fun to go travel around the world and go fight. What other job would do that for you? They pay for you to go out there and not only that, you get to beat someone up and get paid. I think it's great and it's just an added incentive to get moving a little more because I'm in Brad Pickett's backyard and he's got all of Europe all behind him and I think it's great being the underdog. I like being the underdog.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): And I'm sure it'll be great for you to just be active again. You've been fighting once per year the past two years, that's gotta be frustrating, right?
Damacio Page: It is. It's hard to get by living the life over here. I'm actually working right now as we speak, laying some tile like the Mexican that I am (laughs) trying to make some money before I leave. Bills don't get paid by themselves. Hopefully everything goes to plan and then I don't have to do side jobs no more. Put this fight together, get a good W and just a good fight in general so I can be happy and fight competitively and get these nagging injuries completely over with finally.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): So were you having to do the side jobs while you were fighting these past few years?
Damacio Page: Yeah, these last two years I've been working and training and I know that it's hard to give 110 percent every day in practice when you're over here remodeling homes and there's a lot of energy and work behind it, you know? Some days you go to work and you don't want to train the next day because you're so tired from working the day before.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): And you seem to be a guy that's willing to take on just about anybody. You're last three fights, Demetrious Johnson, a title challenger, Brian Bowles, a former champion and now Brad Pickett, a recently top 10 bantamweight. They are throwing you against the elite of the division and you're totally cool with anyone they throw at you, right?
Damacio Page: The thing is, I'm confident I can hang with any of these guys so I'm not going to take a step back and say, "Oh, no, I don't think so. Can you give me someone new?" I'm not like that and I don't think like that. If you want to put me with a top 10 fighter, then that means that the UFC believes in me, they believe I'm a top 10 fighter even though I'm not ranking in the world where people can say, "Hey, Damacio is top 10," but hey, the UFC is putting me against top 10 fighters so that's a lot of respect towards me. They have a lot of confidence in me as a top 10 fighters even though the rankings don't show it.
Gerry Rodriguez: How much time are you actually able to train while working the side jobs?
Damacio Page: I work all the way until about February and then I took off to Montreal for about three weeks and then the last few weeks I've been working on the weekends, not during the week. I've been able to get my training in during the week but I still have to work on the weekends.
Gerry Rodriguez: There's a lot of fighters with tattoos on their bodies. I spoke with Sean Loeffler and he's got a ton of tattoos but he says he doesn't enjoy getting them at all. Are you one of those guys that enjoys it or are you afraid of the needle?
Damacio Page: Oh no, I enjoy it. I think it's therapeutic. I really enjoy it. I'll sit through the whole session. My blue sleeve took five hours and I just sat there and took it all, the whole five and a half hours. I didn't take a break or nothin'. I think it's really therapeutic, you know?
Ben Thapa: What was it like watching [your teammate] Carlos Condit win the interim title?
Damacio Page: It was great watching him go out there and execute a gameplan in full. He knew what he had to do and he knew what was at stake and he didn't let emotions get a hold of him. He just followed the gameplan and did what he had to do and it was very exciting. I know a bunch of people are saying "He's not fighting, he's not fighting," are you serious? This is not a brawl, it's chess. You've got to gameplan, you've got to be methodical and you've got to strike when you can strike.
Even though Diaz was pushing the action, Carlos was controlling the action completely. He was forcing Diaz to talk and he was the one talking crap but Carlos was the one striking. Every time he threw a strike, Carlos countered and got back to the center of the cage. Why sit around along the cage and let work their game and dirty box you when you can get to the center and actually control the exchanges?"
Ben Thapa: What was your take on how Diaz's camp was complaining after the fight and the reaction of fans after the fight?
Damacio Page: He didn't run away, he was just being smart. He was staying away from the cage. Every time he got his back to the cage, he hit a combination, threw a leg kick and brought it back to the center. I think it was just frustrations out of Diaz's camp. They couldn't follow through on their gameplan and we followed out gameplan 110 percent. They were just upset that they couldn't get into Carlos' head to play into their game.
Ben Thapa: What's it like to finally be healthy after all those injuries?
Damacio Page: It feels great. I'm actually in good condition. I feel good. I'm strong. My weight's low. It feels a lot better because before I was working out like 2-3 days a week and then I'd have to take the rest of the week off because I was hurt. I'm actually putting in 5-6 days a week of hard training now and it feels great to know that in the back of my head I don't have to worry about, "Man, what about my conditioning?" because I wasn't able to work something, I couldn't do this, couldn't do that. Shit, you know? It was in the back of your mind but now it's not. Now I just stay calm, collected and just do what I've got to do without worrying about my conditioning because I know it's there.
Ben Thapa: I'm wondering where your mind is at right now. I saw on twitter that your dog was stolen so how are you handling that?
Damacio Page: It's just, people out there are inconsiderate. I work hard, man. When I'm not fighting, I'm working those outside jobs and these dogs, I buy them out of my own pocket. I don't make enough money fighting right now because I'm not fighting three times a year so this comes out of my pocket, buying $2000 or $3000 dogs and it's hurtful. I just don't buy them for breeding purposes, I buy them for companion purposes as well. It's very frustrating.
I had a dog stolen from me a week and a half before I left for Montreal and I had another stolen a week and a half after I got back home so it sucks. It's like $5000 worth of dogs gone and I have to just focus on the fight. The only way it works is if I separate the two and I kind of have to. If I'm too busy trying to think of how to get my dogs back, who took them or whatever, then my mind is not where it needs to be right now. If I do what I've got to do here fighting, it'll all work out in the end.
Ben Thapa: After all this time and frustration, what's it gonna feel like to put a good punch on somebody in the cage?
Damacio Page: It's hard to say. i can't really answer that until after the fight. Then I can say how great it felt to punch his face in but as of now, I haven't done it so I really can't say how it feels or how it's going to feel. All I know is I put a lot of time and effort into this camp and it'll all be worth it in the end.
Damacio Page: I'll tell him, "Let's do this!" I think that's why they put us together. They know we're both explosive and we're both ready to fight, plain and simple. I'll say it again. If Brad Pickett thinks he's better than me, maybe he is better than me, I don't care but I tell you now, April 14th he better bring it and he better take it because I'm not handing it over that easy. He's gonna know at the end of the night that he was in a fight. He'll admit it was the hardest fight of his life. I guarantee that.
Damacio would like to thank Jackson's MMA, Greg Jackson, Mike WInklejohn, John Chamber, Venum and Remyline.com for hooking him up with another dog to replace the one that got stolen. You can follow Damacio on twitter @Damacio Page.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will next week be a reversal of Page's fortunes? Or will Brad Pickett once again be a bit too much for "The Angel of Death" to overcome?
To listen to our complete interview with Damacio Page, click here (audio begins at 38:00 mark).