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Bellator 144's Michael Page: I want to take what Anderson Silva did for MMA and do even more

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"Venom" welcomes the praise from media and mixed martial arts (MMA) fans, but is ready to write his own legacy in the sport after dominating the European kickboxing scene.

Tom Miles

Comparisons to mixed martial arts (MMA) legend Anderson Silva haven't necessarily inflated the ego of Michael Page (8-0). Instead, they've fueled his desire to write his own chapter in the sport.

The rambunctious and often unorthodox Bellator talent has quickly turned heads, causing the promotion's shot-caller Scott Coker to get all giddy inside, because of his fast-rising prospect's unmistakable charisma and flamboyant antics inside the Decagon.

"In my eyes, I know I'm going to be one of the biggest names in MMA and that's going to be because of the dominance I know I'll be able to do," Page told MMAmania.com. "The comparisons, to be fair, I'm not annoyed about it at all. The guy that they're comparing me to is an absolute legend and in the direction I want to go, but I want to take what he's done for MMA and do even more."

While "Venom" has yet to sink his teeth into the competition quite like "The Spider" has done over the course of his 18-year career, the former gold medalist in kickboxing fully intends on perfecting and adding to his already expansive toolbox.

Page hails from tradition -- his parents practiced Lau Gar Kung Fu, and his brothers hold kickboxing titles. Beginning in childhood, all the way until his 24th birthday, the Brit honed his craft and took home an array of awards competing in higher weight classes.

It was on these manic weekends that Page laid the ground work for his unpredictable nature inside the cage.

"We were always, every weekend, traveling somewhere and fighting somewhere. It's an all day thing," Page told Luke Thomas in Nov. 2014. "Freestyle is like a fast chess game. We have a mixture of both [Taekwondo and kickboxing], a lot of hand techniques and a lot of spinning kicks."

In 2011, the polished striker made the leap to MMA, joining the London Shootfighters camp, which is home to several notable fighters like fellow rising star John Hathaway and submission ace Marcin Held.

Page was entering the sport at a time when it was more or less changing.

Longtime rival of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Strikeforce, was purchased by the ZUFFA conglomerate. Bellator was also floundering under the guidance of former CEO Bjorn Rebney.

Now, through eight professional fights -- all wins -- Page slithers through a period in the annals of mainstream MMA, where salary is questioned and drug tests are given at random.

Weight cutting woes are also a huge deal.

It's far from the world he's used to, especially since professional fighters face criticism on the daily, but Page is determined to circumvent any and all who are doubting him.

"I think I came in at a time where I was a bit more oblivious to a lot of those things because again, I wasn't into any of the drugs. I've never been into smoking or any of that kind of stuff. I've never had to do an IV," Page recalled.

Several of his fellow Bellatorians didn't get their start in the organization, but have jumped ship from UFC.

Former champions and title contenders such as Tito Ortiz, Josh Koscheck and Josh Thomson felt they were all held back or cheated in one way or another by brass on the other side, but Page, who began his MMA career at an age when some fighters possess 20-something fights to their credit, looks at money from a different angle.

"Even the smallest of wages is a bonus for me because I'm so used to paying to perform. I've come in from a different angle," Page said.

With that being said, he sympathizes with those who've been in the sport longer and have paid their dues.

"When I started looking at things now and comparing things to how it was, I feel that promoters aren't doing enough to help the fighters. I feel the sport could be -- fighters could be way better -- if they actually had the support," Page emphasized. "There's so many fighters that I know in England because I'm there that they've got one or two jobs, while they're training. They're dedicated enough to do it and it's a tough sport.

When I look at other sports, like football and they train 2-3 hours a day and we're at the gym all day. It's hard to see, and the work that we put in, and we don't get the same benefits."

More money is said to potentially be coming the way of fighters in Bellator in-part due to the controversial partnership between UFC and apparel company Reebok. Several prominent fighters, both male and female, have (literally) trashed the payouts and a wonky tier system.

Some just won't wear it, choosing to leave UFC behind.

With a new endorsement deal from Multipower, a nutrition and supplement leader from the U.K., as well as a sweet spot in a Reebok ad, it's safe to say Page's stardom has taken to new heights.

"I've had a few more people, but I prefer to work with less people after I've built up these relationships over the years. I find that works better for me," Page said.

Making noise in and out of the cage, he made his presence felt in the Bellator ranks beginning in March 2013 with a lightening fast stoppage of Ryan Sanders in 10 seconds. Then, a litany of injuries began to pile up, delaying his ascent up the 170-pound ladder.

After 14 months out of action, Page made his return at Bellator 120 for a showdown with Ricky Rainey, a man known to pack some power.

Not on that night in Mississippi, as the 28-year-old Page routinely -- similarly to Silva's 2010 dance-off with Demian Maia -- clowned the American, but still connected with two well-placed jumping knees in a first-round dismissal.

Nah-Shon Burrell, a former UFC and Strikeforce combatant, was the next man up in Oct. 2014. While the Pennsylvanian had some success tying up Page, partly because of a slippery canvas (via MMA Fighting), his inability to put meaningful combinations together left the judges to side with the latter.

Page most recently blitzed Rudy Bears at Bellator 140 in July and now faces Legacy FC veteran Charlie Ontiveros (6-3) after a run of opponent changes, which included a potential meeting with teammate and former DREAM welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis.

"I spoke to him and he was happy to do it. They said he's happy to do it. My coaches said that it's fine if he's happy to do it. Then for whatever reason, that wasn't happening anymore," Page said, adding, "I'm not phased by anybody. There's no particular person or style that I care enough for to actually phase me."

So far, Page hasn't been tested, but that doesn't mean that his will won't be challenged in the near future. Maybe it's on Oct. 23, 2015 inside the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, versus the "The American Bad Boy?"

Some of the best fighters alive have endured tests of their will inside the cage, which has in-turn elevated their stock in the eyes of fans. There's a Chael Sonnen and Alexander Gustafsson for every Silva and Jon Jones out there.

While a battle with adversity might impress the MMA masses, Page doesn't want you to count on him being backed into a corner.

"That tough fight that people are waiting for, when I get there, it may not be what people are expecting. People are going to get a big surprise, I believe," Page said.

For more on the upcoming Bellator 144: "Halsey vs. Carvalho" card, click here.