Exclusive: Michael ‘Venom’ Page Talks Ian Garry and England Stars Before Slovakia Clash

Exclusive: Michael ‘Venom’ Page Talks Ian Garry and England Stars Before Slovakia Clash

Few professional athletes are under as much pressure as elite fighters in the UFC. 

The worst case scenario isn’t just losing, it’s serious physical damage or even humiliation in front of the world. 

So when Michael ‘Venom’ Page, the incredibly skilled striker and showman, gives his two cents about how the England team at Euro 2024 can loosen up and play to the potential they’ve struggled to achieve in Germany so far, it’s worth a listen. 

MVP, who fights Ian Garry at UFC 303 this Saturday night in Las Vegas, has been keeping a close eye on the Euros during his preparations and like many England fans, has been left wanting more. 

For the 37-year-old, the spark and creativity lacking in the Three Lions can only come from a place of joy. 

Michael 'Venom' Page takes on Ian Garry in a huge fight at UFC 303 this weekend

Michael ‘Venom’ Page takes on Ian Garry in a huge fight at UFC 303 this weekend 

England have struggled at Euro 2024 so far despite topping their group in Germany

England have struggled at Euro 2024 so far despite topping their group in Germany

In speaking exclusively to Mail Sport, his message to the heavily criticised players is: ‘Have fun, you guys are talented. If I’m giving the players advice, you guys are super talented, enjoy yourselves, obviously play to win but show your class as well, show your creativity as well, try to beat someone. 

‘What p****s me off the most is when I see these guys get the ball, turning around to the defence and passing it back, the easiest option. No, you can beat the guy in front of you, you’re talented enough to do that so try every now and again.’

The Londoner is vastly experienced and beat Kevin Holland on his UFC debut back in March to immediately elevate himself into a massive contest with undefeated rising star Garry.

And Page understands that any athlete can only perform at their best when the relationship with the coach is strong. 

He contrasts the absolute faith he has in the advice he receives from his team, to his perception of Southgate this summer. 

‘It comes with having confidence in your manager,’ he says. ‘I know 100 percent if I’m struggling during a fight, my coaches are going to have an answer and they’ll give me exactly what I need to know and the specific details I need to do mid round and I’ll know I have to go and correct it. 

‘I make very rare detrimental mistakes, it’s rare for that to happen, so for me, I know I can get to the next round with the information to adjust things.’

Page defeated Kevin Holland (left) on his UFC debut back in March this year

Page defeated Kevin Holland (left) on his UFC debut back in March this year 

Garry (left) is undefeated and both men will be close to a title shot with a win this weekend

Garry (left) is undefeated and both men will be close to a title shot with a win this weekend

And you get the impression that it’s a cathartic experience for MVP to get some frustration off his chest about the current England boss.

He explains: ‘I am not happy with some of Gareth’s decisions. I honestly believe that we’ve got the quality in our team but the reason we’re not going to win anything is because the management and the decisions that he makes is not good enough. 

‘I don’t know how he’s been in this position for so long. 

‘Yes, they’ve done relatively well but you need to look at how well they are playing. He’s playing people out of position. I don’t get some of the decisions that me makes, some of the substitutions, it’s like he’s not looking at what’s going on in front of him. 

‘It’s just weird, I don’t understand it. I feel like until we get a better manager. I’m not saying we can’t win this one, anybody can, but until we get a better manager… we have some of the greatest players but we need someone who is going to make better decisions. We need to give up this whole ‘It’s Coming Home’ thing, I swear that’s a jinx on our whole nation! Let’s leave that alone.’

England enter the knockout stages on Sunday, a few hours after MVP is aiming to land a KO of his own against a man who strangely claims not to be remotely interested in his own fight.

The onus is on Southgate to have his players performing with more freedom, says Page

The onus is on Southgate to have his players performing with more freedom, says Page

MVP's striking is his biggest weapon and it should make for an exciting match-up

MVP’s striking is his biggest weapon and it should make for an exciting match-up 

He’s been as intrigued as anyone with Garry’s comments in the build-up after the Irishman told the MMA Hour: ‘I’m still not interested in it. I have no interest in it. Here’s the way I look at it: I’m undefeated, I’ve beaten everybody put in front of me in the best way I believe I can and I go out there and I get my hand raised any way, shape and form possible.’

For MVP, Garry is already giving himself an out by trying to make the challenge ahead seem smaller. 

‘When you do it that way, it reminds me if you don’t want something to manifest into real life, you belittle it as much as possible,’ he says. 

‘Instead of confidently going for it, you’re going to keep playing it down, playing it down, he’s just trying to avoid it manifesting into real life and it did anyway.’

Garry remains one of the more polarising fighters in the UFC, but for his opponent on Saturday, while some of his online behaviour is ‘annoying’, there is no particular ill will or animosity.  

‘I haven’t looked too much into him but I hear a lot,’ the welterweight adds. ‘A lot about his kind of situation, I don’t care to listen to just random stuff. I’ve never met him to judge him. 

‘He has got an annoying appeal, a very annoying appeal online and how he kind of markets himself so I personally don’t care for him but either way I don’t dislike him or like him at all. For me it’s just a fight and a step on a ladder to get to where I want to get to. 

MVP expects Garry to try to take him down when they meet in the UFC 303 curtain-raiser

MVP expects Garry to try to take him down when they meet in the UFC 303 curtain-raiser

‘As much as we’re both strikers it’s two different styles of striking. I appreciate his style and he’s done so well to get to where he is so you have to respect it, but it’s not my style, it’s not fast enough and I see exactly the holes I can exploit, so it makes for an exciting fight.’

Garry is a slight betting favourite for the match-up and at more than a decade younger than MVP. For both men, striking is their major weapon but the Brit believes it will be a matter of time before Garry realises he’s out of his depth and changes his approach.

‘Any opponent I have will try and take me down and it’s because my style is so frustrating to deal with’, he explains. 

‘I don’t get hit that much in my fights, clearly, so as good as my striking is, he has to find me consecutively while avoiding shots in the opposite direction, it’s a difficult task for anyone. 

‘I class myself as one of the greatest strikers and in my division, the greatest striker. So I expect every other striker to have to figure out another alternative way and everyone is going to look at it like “are his weakness in grappling”, so I expect him to do that.’

Michael ‘Venom’ Page takes on Ian Machado Garry at UFC® 303: PEREIRA vs PROCHAZKA on June 29th on TNT Sports 1. TNT Sports is available through its streaming destination discovery+ and across all major TV platforms. See here for more information. 

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