Michael 'Venom' Page forgives referee Dan Miragliotta for post-fight clash

Bellator welterweight Michael "Venom" Page received a point deduction from referee Dan Miragliotta -- who also officiates in the UFC -- for showboating in his victory over Richard Kiely in Dublin this September. David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images

On Sept. 27, the last time Michael "Venom" Page was in the ring, his astounding flying knee knockout of Richard Kiely wasn't even the main talking point from a short-lived contest at Bellator Dublin.

Instead, the majority of post-fight conversations concerning "MVP" focused on his clash with well-known and well-liked referee Dan Miragliotta, who also officiates in the UFC.

Miragliotta issued warnings to both Page and Kiely in the first round after the welterweights taunted one another in the ring, then docked Page a point for continuing to do so as the divisive Londoner punished his Irish opponent on the mat. The point deduction had no effect on the outcome of the bout, which soon arrived as an airborne Page drove his knee into Kiely's chin, but "MVP" still took grievance with Miragliotta after the fight as the referee berated him for resuming his mocking of Kiely while the Irishman lay dazed on the mat.

Miragliotta later admitted to calling Page a "f------ piece of s---", apologised for doing so, and he and "MVP" seemed to be in agreement that the referee should not officiate any of Page's fights going forward.

But ahead of Page's hometown main event with Italian Giovanni Melillo at Bellator London on Nov. 23, the 32-year-old told ESPN that he and Miragliotta later cleared the air.

"Since then I met him in America and he actually came up to me," Page (15-1) said. "We sat down together, spoke, he apologised then as well. So for me it's old news. It's all good."

Despite accepting Miragliotta's apology, Page said there is no need to go back on the pair's decision to never share the ring again.

"We'll just keep it as it is," the Brit said. "I still think he's a good ref. Even when it happened I said that as well. I just thought it was a personal thing. He came to me and said it's not a personal thing, we shook hands and kept it moving from there. But I think it's just safer to keep it as it is and go from there."

"MVP" will therefore be expecting no extraneous distractions when he steps into the ring with 34-year-old Melillo (13-4), who is a late replacement after Derek Anderson's withdrawal, which marked the second time a bout between Page and the American has fallen through.

And should he defeat Melillo, Page's sights will be set on just one man: welterweight champion Douglas Lima, who handed "MVP" his first loss in MMA earlier this year with a spectacular knockout. That victory over Page meant Lima advanced to the final of Bellator's welterweight grand prix, which the 31-year-old won by defeating then champion Rory MacDonald to begin his third title reign.

Much like Lima avenged an earlier loss to MacDonald with that result, Page is keen to exact his own revenge on Lima.

"It just made it more exciting that he actually got the belt," Page said. "It just means there are two things I've got to look forward to when I beat him. The knockout [by Lima] was spectacular, but before any of that actually happened, I felt like I was dominating. I had just rocked him, even on the ground I nullified him, [but] when I hit him and saw his legs go, I kind of got overexcited. I know that I can beat him, so I just want to get it back."

And beyond analysing the fight, how did Page cope with losing for the first time in MMA?

"I used to get my ass kicked week in and week out for about five or six years when I was kickboxing, so for me getting beaten is not new," he said. "It's new for everybody else, because they haven't seen it happen since I've been fighting in MMA, but in general it really isn't new to me.

"If I could've lost to anybody in the world, I'm actually glad it was him, because I respect him as a person, as a man and as a martial artist. So for me it's bittersweet."

Before a potential rematch with Lima, however, is the clash against Melillo, and with no Miragliotta in Page's peripheral vision, the former kickboxer's showboating is likely to be on full display once again -- no matter what fans and fellow fighters think.

"All of these fighters that complain about it will always tune in to my fights, which says that I'm doing something right," Page said.

"There's not a promotion, there's no fan that can sway me from being me and doing what I do best."