If you've seen a couple of Michael "Venom" Page (6-0) fights, or seen one of his highlight videos online, it's quite likely you've gotten the impression that he's the most arrogant fighter in the entire sport of MMA. At their most flamboyant, Page's taunts during fights make former UFC champ Anderson Silva look like a model of meekness.
All of Page's strutting, shaking, and posing while beating up on opponents has a tactical function, though. "Massively. The whole style itself is tactical," he tells Cagewriter.
"It is meant to make you second guess your own talent and moves. It makes you worry more about what I’m going to do than what you can do, which then gives me more time to be more creative. It messes you up. Soon, the game plan you came in with is thrown out the window because you're worrying about me making the first move - which is never good."
Page may also appear to be unconcerned with defense as he often fights with his hands down. That is deceiving as well, according to the 27 year-old.
"It's weird but my game plan is all about distance and that distance is my defense," he explains.
"When you have the right distance, defense isn't necessarily about having your hands in the right place. I feel comfortable getting out so it is uncessary for me to keep my hands up. Also, it can be harder to block a jab, for example, that comes up at you, as opposed to one coming straight at you, like you're used to. If you assume the jab is coming from the side of my head, but it instead comes from my hips towards your chin, when it hits you it's going to be a bit more shocking."
Though there is function to his free-form, Page says it is also a part of his personality. Furthermore, he didn't invent the style.
"It's just generally my style," he says.
"If fans see some of the other freestyle guys, they see that it's the kind of sport where flamboyance and agility are encouraged. There's just a lot more creative moves and stuff. I’m not the only person doing it."
Page may feel confident once he steps into the cage, as he will again Friday against UFC veteran Nah-Shon Burrell (10-4), but in the training room he says he works with humility. "I would say I spend 90% of my time working on my weaknesses, to improve," he says.
"I spend 10% of my time working on my stand-up, adding things to my game that are creative, that type of thing. The majority of my time is spent on wresting and Jiu Jitsu, though."
In the end, Page's balance between humble basics in the gym and rock star swagger in the cage fits his goals in the spot. The Brit doesn't have a world title in his sights - it's the entire world he wants.
"For me, I just want to be the biggest face in MMA," he says.
"I hear a lot of fighters target specific titles. For me, that's small. If you're the biggest face in MMA, titles will be included. They are part of the journey. I want to be massive. I want to be world-wide. That's the ultimate goal. But, I can only get there one fight at a time."