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‘I hope he pisses me off’

Bellator 258’s Derek Anderson spoke to FanSided MMA ahead of his bout with Michael Venom Page. 

In many ways, top 10 Bellator welterweight contender Derek Anderson is the exact opposite of his Bellator 258 opponent, Michael “Venom” Page. Page is verbose, the consummate showman with spinning attacks and flamboyant pre-planned celebrations, and long-considered one of the favorite stars of the promotion. He is undeniably an entertainer, and Bellator has rewarded him with plenty of high-profile bouts.

In contrast, Anderson is the self-described “dark horse” of Bellator. He’s not particularly flashy, typically choosing to stand and throw punches rather than set up eye-catching spin kicks. Nor is he verbose, often answering questions in a quick, to-the-point manner. Essentially, Anderson is the anti-MVP.

“They pay me to fight, so I go in there and stand in the middle and throw punches with the guy like the little robots when you’re a kid,” Anderson told FanSided MMA. “And that’s what I think fighting is.”

It’s Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. That’s the game Anderson was thinking of to describe his fighting style.

Derek Anderson fights Michael “Venom” Page at Bellator 258

Anderson’s approach to fighting is a refreshing one. He didn’t start competing in MMA with grand visions of wealth and celebrity, nor did he start because he was a high-level wrestler with nothing else to do. He started simply because nothing else really made sense.

“It’s the only thing I ever did, man. It was natural. I always liked to fight. Ever since I was a kid watching karate movies and stuff, like ‘that’s cool!’ I got into a lot of fights when I was younger, not because I thought it was cool, but because I couldn’t take anyone’s s–t.”

Indeed, Anderson was expelled from middle school for fighting. And although he found himself in fewer fights in high school and even fewer after he started training in MMA, that willingness to fight at any time never switched off. As Anderson describes it, the way his brain “works” is meant for combat.

“When I was a little kid and I walked down a dark alley, if I heard a little noise, I’d never be like “ahh!” and run away. I’m like “who’s over there? I wanna do something about it!’ That’s just who I am,” he said.

Whether it be the first of his 20 professional MMA bouts or a random street fight, Anderson just doesn’t have that internal warning mechanism telling him to avoid conflict. Instead, he embraces it.

“My brain just works so fundamentally in a way that like, if somebody disagrees with me or something like that in a way that’s aggressive, then obviously we’re fighting. Maybe it starts off verbally but I just don’t go there because I’m not trying to argue with somebody.”

Anderson has fine-tuned his fight-now, think-later attitude to the point of a 17-3 professional record and a No. 5 ranking in Bellator’s welterweight division. He’ll lean on that attitude when he faces Page, currently the No. 1 ranked contender.

Page is known for taunting his opponents in the cage. Anderson, naturally, welcomes these tactics.

“It won’t pull me off my game. I hope he pisses me off because I’m pretty dangerous when I’m pissed off,” he said.

But as much as Anderson just wants to bang (bro), make no mistake: his goal is Bellator gold. A win over Page could certainly put him in position for a title fight, as it would extend his win streak to four and keep him undefeated as a Bellator welterweight.

Importantly, a fight with the champion, whoever that may be, is a fight the self-described “dark horse” feels ready for.

“I’m not sure who the best is, but I know I can beat the best. I’m not even saying I’m the best, but I can beat him. I can beat anybody.”

Bellator 258 takes place on Friday, May 7, 2021, live from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. Follow along with FanSided for all your live news and highlights.

 

 

 

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