This Friday night’s Bellator 179 card in London is a good one on paper, featuring the promotional debut of Rory MacDonald against England’s own Paul Daley. Yet the card lost one of its star attractions when Michael Page was forced out of his fight with Derek Anderson with a knee injury.
Anderson was expected to be a significant test for “MVP,” who is undefeated in his professional career, including 8-0 in Bellator. And it smarted to learn that the fight was off only a little more than a week before he could try to take the goose egg from Page’s record. It also stung to lose the payday.
“Yeah man, it’s difficult,” Anderson told MMA Fighting. “That’s how I make my money, so it just worries me when these things happen. I don’t know if I am going to be able to make rent if I don’t get paid. Luckily Bellator said it’s going to take care of me for this fight, and give me my show money. I was going to show up. Regardless [of Page pulling out], I was planning on leaving on the flight tomorrow and going over there, and saying, hey I’m here.
“But I guess the cancelled my ticket already, so I’m stuck over here. But as long as they’re paying me man, I’m happy.”
For the 27-year old Anderson, signing up to fight British fighters has been a cautionary tale. He was supposed to fight Paul Daley at Bellator 163 in November, yet learned that Daley had to pull out the day before the fights at the weigh-ins. That time he had already went through the rigamarole of camp, his weight cut and the cross-country flight from his home in California to Connecticut.
After having his sights set on Daley, Anderson was rebooked into a fight with Derek Campos in January, and he came up on the short end of a decision.
With the Page news, the bad taste left in his mouth from that fight will have to linger. It didn’t help matters that Anderson saw himself as the perfect kryptonite for Page’s flamboyant striking style.
“I was going to smoke him,” Anderson said. “I really wanted that fight. I like to be the shorter guy. I’m not scared of anybody, and I was going to put it on him. He’s got this big name, everybody thinks he’s a hotshot. I was going to show him I’m the hotshot.”
Anderson said he didn’t mind playing the role of interloper in Page’s backyard of London, either.
“I just relished the opponent,” he said. “I was really excited about fighting a taller guy who wants to strike, getting in there and putting good hands on him, and looking good also. Being in London would have been cool also, but we can do it over here in America, too.”
With the fight cancelled, it’s unclear whether Bellator will look to rebook Anderson-Page for another date. As of right now, Anderson said he doesn’t know what the plans are.
“I haven’t been told anything like that yet,” he said. “I hope [they do book me against Page again], because this is the fight I was thinking about. I wasn’t thinking about anything going on after this, it kind of puts a big stick in my road here. I don’t know what’s next for me. I can still make lightweight sure. So I don’t know what I’ll be doing, maybe lightweight, welterweight. If it’s welterweight I just want to fight tall strikers mostly. If it’s lightweight, I’ll fight anybody.”
One thing that bothered Anderson about Page’s short notice withdrawal was that injuries in MMA are prevalent and commonly fought through. He said he’s been dealing with his own slate of injuries, yet was going to go through with the commitment he made.
“He pulled out for an injury man, and trust me, I’m injured,” he said. “I got stitches on my foot right now. There’s no way I should have been fighting, but I was going to fight because I’m not a wuss. So I’m just going to get healed up and I can’t wait to get back to training. I’m a machine. I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and I’m ready to kick some ass. So whoever’s in line, I’ll be ready.”
As for whether he believed Page’s injury was serious enough to warrant him pulling out so close to the fight, Anderson said he had his doubts.
“He better be on crutches man,” he said. “He didn’t get anything broken. He didn’t get his knee bent backwards I’m sure. I bet you he’s been doing some road work and his knees are sore and he thought I was going to kick his ass so he didn’t want to fight.”
Anderson said he would like to get back in the cage as soon as possible, and that Bellator had mentioned an August return. But he’s leaving himself open for one possibility — when Bellator makes its debut at Madison Square Garden next month, he wants to be ready in case something should happen.
Namely, should something happen to lightweight title challenger Brent Primus, who fights Michael Chandler during the main event on the June 24 card. Primus and Anderson squared off in 2015, with Anderson losing a controversial split decision, that to this day he swears he won.
“It kind of just sickens me that Brent Primus is fighting for the title in the first place, because I think he’s garbage already,” Anderson said. “So hopefully he falls out and I can jump in there for that or something. I’m just going to stay ready. Whatever the got for me. I’m just glad to be getting a little bit of money at least, because I need it.”
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