Michael "Venom" Page, the flashy British striker, is finally ready for the UFC Octagon. After flirting with the UFC and PFL following Bellator's sale, Page chose MMA's biggest stage, facing Kevin Holland at UFC 299 in March.
However, his arrival comes with a caveat: a call for a return to respectful rivalry in the world of combat sports. In a recent interview with "The MMA Hour," Page expressed distaste for the current climate of rampant "trash talk" and personal attacks that often precede fights.
He specifically took aim at Colby Covington's recent vile insult directed at Leon Edwards, calling it "disgusting" and detrimental to the true spirit of martial arts. "The trash talk will be good, but respectful," Page said.
"I hate what we see in martial arts right now. I don't like it when people talk about other people's fathers, their wives, girlfriends, children and other things. We have to go back to martial arts. " He argues that fighters, as skilled athletes, should let their fists and talent do the talking, instead of resorting to cheap insults and personal attacks.
Trash talk but with respect
But this is not a call for silence. Page emphasizes that healthy, competitive banter remains a viable means of promoting a fight. It encourages playful banter and witty exchanges, as long as they stay within the bounds of mutual respect and avoid descending into personal attacks.
"I'm always up for a laugh, I'm always up for a joke, but we do it in a friendly way," Page said. "That should be enough to promote the fight. It can be more intense, but if it stays between two people who are fighting." It remains to be seen whether Page's call for a more respectable brand of rivalry will resonate in the UFC's notoriously volatile environment.
However, his arrival represents an opportunity for MMA to reassess its priorities and rediscover the core values of athleticism and sportsmanship that first attracted fans to the sport. He will bring perhaps much needed doses of respect.
And if he can do that while entertaining audiences with his flashy style, then his entry into the UFC will be a real game changer.