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MMA Junkie Radio co-host and MMA Junkie contributor Dan Tom breaks down the Bellator’s top bouts. Today, we look at the welterweight grand prix installment for Bellator 221.
Bellator 221 takes place Saturday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., near Chicago. The main card streams on DAZN following prelims on MMA Junkie.
+ Former Bellator welterweight champion
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt
+ 14 KO victories
+ 11 submission wins
+ 15 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Solid feints and footwork
^ Seldom out of position
+ Dangerous hooks and crosses
+ Hard and accurate leg kicks
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Improved underhook awareness
+ Good transitional grappler
+ Crafty guard game
^ Slick sweeps and submissions
+ 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
Bellator 221 features another fun installment of the promotion’s welterweight grand prix, as we will be privy to a tactical battle between a snake-charming striker and a seemingly immovable stone who has sat atop the division for some time.
Enter the snake charmer, Michael Page.
Born into a family of martial artists, Page was indoctrinated into combat 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.
Marrying his reactive footwork with deceptive feints that help disguise his assaults, Page has been able to successfully bring his point-fighting sensibilities into MMA, cleverly disrupting the rhythm that most fighters are used to seeing.
Although it can appear 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.
However, as skillful as Page proves to be, he will still need to draw out the disciplined, stone-like approach of Douglas Lima.
A former welterweight kingpin, Lima has typically set and maintained a consistent pace throughout his career. Steadily stalking his prey behind subtle feints and fakes, the Brazilian is seldom out of position while keeping his patented right hand at the ready. Although this weapon has served Lima well (he is accurate both coming forward and off the counter), his reliance on it has also cost him hand injuries.
Subsequently, we saw Lima improve his left hand in the latter part of his career, as he now throws an improved jab to go along with his already potent left hook and leg kicks. Even when circling away, the champion will now smartly attach check-hooks to his lead-foot pivots, which could come in handy when considering the leaping, low-handed movements of his counterpart.
That said, even though Lima successfully countering Page is not out of the question, it’s hard to see the former champ count on out-countering the counter-fighting specialist, so I suspect we could see a slow burn in regards to the build of striking exchanges.
Next point of interest: Potential ground warfare
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