After cutting 10 pounds and trying his hand in the flyweight division, former WEC and UFC veteran Damacio Page has been met with instantaneous results. It took Page exactly one fight at 125 pounds in order to bring home the vacant flyweight crown in his new promotional home, Legacy FC, and a quick highlight-reel knockout of Brian Hall a few months later in his first title defense proved that Page is a different animal in his new weight division. Now sporting a 4-1 record since being released by the UFC in 2012, Page is hoping that his newfound momentum and three-fight winning streak will be enough for him to punch his ticket back to the big show.
Compared to some fighters who have had to fight tooth and nail in order to regain their spot on the UFC roster, Page’s journey to try to get back inside the Octagon has been relatively short. However, due to “The Angel of Death’s” prior popularity while fighting for Zuffa and the fact that he’s been impressive in one of the promotion’s weaker divisions since his departure, it seems like the UFC, if it passed on Page, would be missing out on an opportunity to add another recognizable name to a division in need of some star power. Although his WEC/UFC tenure ended on a four-fight losing streak, Page’s style endeared him to fans while he was winning fights in the WEC, and there are likely a few nostalgic fans that would look forward to seeing Page jump headfirst into the current flyweight top 15.
Of the 40 flyweight fighters on the UFC’s current roster, odds are the average MMA fan could probably pick less than 20 of them out of a lineup. Adding Page to the mix may add one more recognizable face to that list, and he’ll more than likely deliver his paycheck’s worth in excitement. For those reasons alone, the UFC should be more than willing to bring Page back into the fold. Furthermore, his current streak and title reign should be enough to set him up with a ranked opponent. Page is right for campaigning to get back into the UFC. But if he gets his wish and ends up back inside the Octagon, putting on a good performance will probably end up being the pinnacle of the expectations for the veteran fighter.
There’s no denying that Page has been impressive since leaving the UFC, especially in his last three outings. But the guys he was fighting under the Legacy banner are going to be housecats compared to the lions pacing on the other side of the Octagon. Knocking out a few up-and-coming prospects in Texas is one thing, but fighting a guy like Joseph Benavidez in Vegas is a completely different story. Page posted a sub-.500 record while fighting for Zuffa the first time, and while he admittedly fought top-notch competition in most of his losses, he hasn’t shown much since leaving the Octagon to make fans think a return would go any differently.
On the feet, Page is good enough to do more than hold his own against most UFC flyweights. “The Angel of Death” has always had the ability to put his opponent to sleep with a big strike, and judging by the ferocity of the hook that he landed to finish Hall last month, he retained all of it and more with his drop to flyweight. That one-punch knockout power makes him a very dangerous opponent, and his overall striking game is good enough that many of his UFC opponents in the past wanted no part of it and took the fight to the mat early. On the other hand, that could have just been because his opponents knew the best way to take him out was on the ground.
The four losses that led to Page’s UFC release a few years ago all had one thing in common. They all came by submission and, to be more specific, by some form of choke. In fact, of Page’s nine career losses, eight have come via submission and all but one of those ended up being some variation of a choke. The blueprint to defeating Page is dreadfully obvious at this point, and while he did perform admirably on the mat with his second-round arm-triangle finish to win the Legacy belt this summer, it’s hard to be confident in his ability to stay out of trouble against the number of solid grapplers littering the UFC’s 125-pound division.
It’s been fun to watch Page resurrect his career over the past six month or so with his move to flyweight. After scoring one of the year’s best knockouts last month, Page should have enough momentum to get back under the UFC banner and try to make some waves against the best in the world. Fight fans just shouldn’t—and won’t—expect much if he gets there. As entertaining as he is when he gets into a slugfest, the more competent grapplers in the division are going to want no part of that, and it’s likely that Page ends up fighting off submission attempt after submission attempt against the better fighters in the division. A win or two isn’t out of the question, and “The Angel of Death” may even to sneak into the top 10 if he gets the right match-ups, but midnight is going to strike early on this Cinderella story.