Michael “Venom” Page vs Ross “The Hitman” Houston is a fight I have been itching to see since it was announced for various reasons.
Reason one: stylistically this is a fantastic fight. One one side of the cage you have Page, an expert in karate-style striking and a master of the art of countering his opponents. On the other side of the cage, you have Houston, a talented all-rounder who can make the fight nasty for his opponents, especially in the clinch exchanges.
Reason two: this is Page’s best chance at killing the long-standing “overrated” tag fight fans have placed on him. In Houston, he faces the toughest test he has had since losing to Douglas Lima, a young, hungry and talented fighter, who has proven himself to be one of the best in Europe by becoming Cage Warriors welterweight champion. If “Venom” wins this, he can shut his haters up.
Reason three: Houston gets to step foot into a big spotlight. No disrespect to Cage Warriors, but Bellator is still the bigger promotion and just the platform Houston needs to raise his profile. There is no bigger opportunity than this, the first-ever MMA event held by a major promotion in France, and the first time the BBC has ever broadcasted an MMA event. A win here sets him up for stardom.
Reason four: It’s the biggest all-British fight of the year.
There are a couple of things each fighter needs to do if they hope to win, starting with Page.
For Michael “Venom” Page to win this fight, he needs to stay in the centre of the cage and upright. His style of striking allows him to counter an opponent the second they move in, almost like how a snake strike strikes at its prey. The London Shootfighters fighter has shown he is outstanding at this in the past, just look at his wins over Evangelista Santos and Giovanni Melillo for prime examples, and that’s exactly what he needs to do here. Hold the centre and wait for Houston to advance before countering the movement.
The other thing Page needs to do is keep moving. He can’t stand still and taunt opponents like we have seen him do in the past. If you stand still opposite Houston, you’re either going to be knocked to the floor by a hard punch, or be taken down via a slick takedown.
For Houston, his key to victory is to just be a nasty b*****d and make this fight ugly. If Houston can get in and get MVP hooked into a clinch before driving him up against the fence, he will have won a small victory of MVP. Not only will he have got into range and not been hit by anything with enough power to drop him, he will have also put Page in a position he is uncomfortable with. We know Houston is comfortable making fights nasty on the fence, slipping out of the clinch to use elbow strikes like he has been taught at Team Renegade, before resuming the clinch or looking for a takedown. If you want evidence of this, look no further than his fight with Nicolas Dalby at Cage Warriors 106, where he delivered an elbow with such precision and power, it cut Dalby so deep that the cutman could not stop the bleeding, even with excess vasoline.
Once in the clinch, Hosuton takes away MVP’s biggest weapon, his rangey striking, Page can’t use his kicks or his punches effectively if he has the Scotsman holding onto him. So not only will Houston be able to use his best offensive, he will strip Page of his best weaponry too.
We know Page isn’t comfortable off his back, just look at how desperate he was to not be taken down by Paul Daley. If Houston can make him uncomfortable by getting a clinch, delivering shots, and then taking Page down in consecutive rounds, he will win this fight.