Fittingly, the first mixed martial arts event Sky Sports will show is headlined by the most anticipated all-British fight in the history of the sport, from here at the enormous Mohegan Sun, in Connecticut, the second largest casino resort in the United States.
The meeting of Paul Daley and Michael Page, both 170lb fighters, is a contest that has drawn comparison with the bad blood between Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn in the early nineties. Long in the making, deep of debate over who will leave the combat arena victorious. The bare truth is that no one really knows.
Both men – whose battling sobriquets are respectively ‘Semtex’ and ‘Venom’ – have star qualities, fascinating back stories, and fight as if their lives depended on it.
Veteran Daley, who served in the Household Cavalry alongside Prince Harry, has promised the thirty-third knockout of his 58-fight career against Page, a pirouetting, destructive freestyle kickboxer who converted to MMA after winning seven world titles in kickboxing.
From London, to New York, to Connecticut, our protagonists have left a trail layered with tension.
“The magnitude of the event is apparent. I’ve been doing so much media – ESPN, Sports Illustrated – all the newspapers and papers. They’ve all got behind the fight,” explained Daley to The Telegraph over breakfast in Manhattan midway through fight week. “It’s great not only for me and Page, but for UK MMA too. For two UK fighters to be getting so much attention in the US and headlining an event is ridiculous.”