Bellator returns to London for a very special occasion, as hometown sensation Michael “Venom“ Page (20-1) faces wrestling standout and Sanford MMA rep Logan Storley (13-1) for the interim welterweight title.
Originally, this was scheduled to be a fight between Page and current champ Yaroslav Amasov. Unfortunately, the conflict in Ukraine derailed that. Now Storley steps up to take on the flashiest fighter on the Bellator roster in his backyard, and he might just have the recipe to play the spoiler.
Now, we’ve seen Page in action. He’s a thrilling talent to watch when he’s able to superstyle on opponents. Over time, he’s been figured out a bit and his fights aren’t always guaranteed to have an explosive conclusion. With his use of range and his ability to bait opponents to work unorthodox attacks, he’s a threat on any night. Storley doesn’t just have his wrestling, though. His most notable opponents are the champ himself and his most recent foe, Neiman Gracie. His fight with Gracie didn’t start as the most exciting affair, but became a truly tight and fun fight as it went on.
This displayed Storley’s tenacity and grit, testing his cardio over the course of five rounds and showing he can take a shot to give it right back. Storley can crack, but he’s at a disadvantage with his striking. He can keep things basic and make a lot of things happen with that, and his conditioning is top notch. As for Page, he can defend takedowns competently for a good while, but becomes more susceptible to them as the fight goes on. It’s a more competitive bout than the originally scheduled one, and genuinely raises a lot of questions.
While it may make Bellator very, very happy to see a local fighter nab the gold (especially with his recent upset win to avenge his lone pro loss against Douglas Lima), it would validate the MVP experiment for them and solidify a top spot for an exciting and marketable fighter. But those plans could easily be spoiled if Page doesn’t mind his Ps and Qs against a very hungry competitor that can run a relentless pace, even if that comes after a slow start.
Former UFC champion Lyoto Machida (26-11) returns to action, bringing his Karate stylings to the Bellator cage against another surging talent in Fabian Edwards (9-2). Fabian is the brother of current UFC welterweight title challenger Leon Edwards, and has had some sensational finishes in the past. Despite having dropped two straight, they were to former eventual challenger Austin Vanderford and another rising prospect in the talented Costello Van Steenis. Fabian’s got some punishing kicks and very disciplined submission grappling. That plus a level of patience for openings and a tendency to not bite on feints easily could be to his favor. The Machida riddle has sort of been solved, but Fabian’s ability to implement the necessary gameplan will be put to the test.
On the flipside, Machida can frustrate Edwards easily with his forward pressure and kicking game as well. Worst case scenario, we see two patient fighters waiting for the other to make the first mistake. Other than that, this is two strikers going in there to test themselves against each other.
Paul Daley (43-18, 2) will be having his farewell fight on native soil against Wendell Giácomo, a 9-2 Brazilian prospect that has largely toiled around the Brazilian circuit until his most recent fight in LFA. Former RIZIN talent Simon Biyong (7-2) is another fun and funky fighter that can change a fight with a strike or two, and he meets England’s own Luke Trainer.
Denise Kielholtz (6-3) is becoming a problem in the women’s flyweight division, as she’s shown she’s more than just a kickboxer and displayed some wrinkles to her overall game. She meets Japanese all-around talent Kana Watanabe (10-1, 1 draw), who is capable of dragging her into very deep water.
Another Bellator mainstay in Daniel Weichel (41-13) meets Scotland’s Robert Whiteford (16-4) in what could potentially be fight of the night at featherweight. Another one to look forward to is Karate ace Oliver Enkamp (10-3) against American wrestler Mark Lemminger (12-4).
You can check out the weigh-ins here:
Michael Page (168.6) vs. Logan Storley (169.4) – Interim Bellator welterweight title
Lyoto Machida (185.0) vs. Fabian Edwards (185.0) – Middleweight
Denise Kielholtz (124.2) vs. Kana Watanabe (125.2) – Flyweight
Paul Daley (174.4) vs. Wendell Giacomo (174.2) – 175lb bout
Luke Trainer (205.0) vs. Simon Biyong (205.2) – Light heavyweight
Daniel Weichel (145.2) vs. Robert Whiteford (145.8) Featherweight
Oliver Enkamp (168.8) vs. Mark Lemminger (170.2) – Welterweight
Kate Jackson (125.6) vs. Elina Kallionidou (125.8) – Flyweight
Alfie Davis (155.8) vs. Tim Wilde (155.8) -Lightweight
Andrew Fisher (145.4) vs. Attila Korkmaz (145.8) – Featherweight
Lee Chadwick (205.4) vs. Maciej Rozanski (204.8) – Light heavyweight
Chiara Penco (115.2) vs. Lanchana Green (115) – Strawweight
Bellator 281: MVP vs Storley takes place this Friday, live from London’s SSE Arena. The card starts at 1:00pm ET with the prelims streaming on YouTube, and the main card starts at 4:00pm on Showtime.
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