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How ‘The Rock’ helped UFC up-and-comer Michael ‘Venom’ Page develop entertaining persona

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When the Kaseya Center went black and the bell tolled, a roar came from the UFC 299 crowd in Miami two weeks ago. 

As “MVP, MVP, MVP” chants were heard, Michael “Venom” Page walked out with a black cloak and smoke bellowing from behind him. For those that know WWE, the signature music in the background as he walked into the arena showed him clearly paying homage to The Undertaker with his now-iconic entrance in his UFC debut against Kevin Holland. 

Page is all about entertaining. Whether it’s the suspense of seeing his entrance, the dancing during his walk to the ring, or his favorite part — putting on a show for the crowd in the octagon — he knows fans will remember him no matter where his name is on the fight card. 

The 36-year-old has literally fought long and hard to get into a UFC octagon, where he is now 1-0 after defeating Holland by unanimous decision. But, just like the UFC 299 broadcast said, Page’s name is known throughout the fighting world. 

Fox News Digital met up with Page while he was in New York to talk about that entertainment side, and when the Undertaker introduction was brought up, it was clear he is a big WWE fan.

But it wasn’t just wrestlers like The Undertaker that helped Page develop his brand in the sport. 

“For me, The Rock is one of the best in terms of crowd involvement and things that he does,” Page, who is 22-2 in his mixed martial arts career, told Fox News Digital regarding Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. “I haven’t watched anyone else that could do that. WWE as a platform in general is something that does that regularly. Incorporate the crowd, the crowd loves it. The villains, the heroes, all that kind of stuff. 

“So I sat down for hours — and the thing was I was watching him from about 10 or 11 (years old). The ‘Attitude Era’ was my era. Stone Cold (Steve Austin) and Goldberg were my favorites, then The Rock and Eddie Guerrero.”

RISING UFC STAR MICHAEL ‘VENOM’ PAGE TALKS UNCONVENTIONAL STYLE THAT ANGERS SOME IN FIGHT COMMUNITY

When Page decided he wanted to compete professionally in MMA, he knew that branding would be key.

“I think it’s just something that’s always been important to me in general,” he said. “So, when I first said to myself, ‘I want to get into MMA,’ [and] I told my family this was 100% what I was going to do, I was also, like, ‘Well, how do I market myself?’ Because I listen to certain people on the mic, and they can’t talk especially after that excitement, burst of adrenaline. You just knocked somebody out and you just don’t hear anything. I want to be that guy that delivers clear lines, and it’s something fans can remember as well. I’m thinking about everything.

“Things that I say, how I deliver it, body language, things that I do where people can go, ‘Ah, I remember that guy because he did that thing.’ You’re watching 16, 17 bouts in a day. What makes me the one that stands out?”

So, a then-24-year-old Page would sit down and watch The Rock for hours, writing down how he would address the crowd and his opponents. 

Michael "Venom" Page walks out at UFC 299

“I didn’t even know I was going to fight. I was just making the transition,” he said. “I always think about the whole picture.”

More than a decade later, Page did exactly what he intended to do in UFC 299, down to the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, who was shocked to see how calm he was after beating Holland. 

Despite the grand entrances and unconventional fighting style, which includes dancing in the octagon, Page’s persona is one he’s crafted for quite some time. 

And like any artist, he also gets “random spots of inspiration,” just like before he knocked out Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos in Bellator in July 2016.

Page was with his family — as one of nine, they are always around to bounce ideas off — when his brother thought the nickname “Cyborg” for Santos sounded like a Pokémon. At the time, Pokémon Go was a huge fad. 

So, when a flying knee landed perfectly on Santos’ forehead to knock him out, Page rushed to his team and got a Pokémon hat and Poké Ball to “catch” him. 

It was an entertaining finish to an entertaining bout. And though some view Page’s fighting style and flashy entrances as cockiness, he views it as years of hard work which allow him to express himself how he sees fit. 

Michael Page poses for picture

That’s why plenty of thought was put into the Undertaker entrance, though he admitted wanting to do something related to a magic trick instead. 

“Speaking to the family, I was like, ‘I kinda want to do like a magic trick-style kind of thing,’ because I want to make the entrance really crazy,” Page said. “But I know UFC is going to be a bit tentative about what [you’re] allowed to do. So I was, like, let me try to make it as simple as possible for them, but still have a good effect. They still chopped quite a few big bits away, but I still managed to kind of land with something still to entertain the fans.”

In the octagon, Page is always going to give it his all. But win or lose, there’s no doubt in his mind that fans will leave satisfied because of the entertainment value he brings with him, no matter the opponent. 

The UFC can certainly smell what Michael “Venom” Page is cooking. 

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