Ben Duffy/Sherdog.com illustration
Headquartered in scenic Woodloch, Texas, the Mixed Martial Arts Hall of [email protected]#$%&g Awesome (HOFA for short) commemorates the achievements of those fighters who, while they might not be first-ballot selections for a traditional hall of fame, nonetheless did remarkable things in the cage or ring, and deserve to be remembered. The HOFA enshrines pioneers, one-trick ponies and charming oddballs, and celebrates them in all their imperfect glory. While the HOFA selection committee’s criteria are mysterious and ever-evolving, the final test is whether the members can say, unanimously and with enthusiasm, “____________ was [email protected]#$%&g awesome!”
We remember it all: the relentless aggression on the feet as well as on the ground; the nuclear right hand; and, of course, a pre-fight scowl hostile enough to make the sponsor decals start peeling off of the cage floor. Dear Lord, that glare. For those who were there for Page’s scorched-earth heyday, as he made his way through World Extreme Cagefighting, the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Legacy Fighting Championship, the name instantly brings images to mind. Violent images. “The Angel of Death” and his 95-percent career finishing rate were an integral part of why the Zuffa-era WEC was so beloved by hardcore fans — and an early rebuttal to the idea that smaller fighters lacked stopping power.
Like many smaller fighters who came up in the mid-00s, Page ventured far outside his ideal weight range in search of fights early in his career, fighting at featherweight and even lightweight. His 154-pound matchup with fellow HOFA inductee and noted openweight giant slayer Genki Sudo at K-1 Premium Dynamite 2006 might have been the only time in Sudo’s career that he enjoyed a visible size advantage. Nonetheless, despite giving up height and weight to most of his opponents, Page put together a 12-3 record with 10 first-round finishes, which led to an invitation to ply his trade in the “little blue cage” of the Zuffa-era WEC. Among the many benefits was the guaranteed ability to fight consistently at bantamweight, and Page took full advantage. Unlike many prospects who pile up quick stoppages on their local scene, then turn into point fighters at the next level, Page continued to live by the sword; the only difference was that he lost more fights, as well.
Page’s Achilles’ heel at the top levels of the sport was his submission defense. While he was no slouch on the ground — he was a former junior college All-American wrestler who racked up just as many submission wins as losses — his go-for-broke style left him vulnerable against sound grapplers. His ceiling as a competitor showed during a four-fight skid, all by submission, which included his three-fight UFC run. In fairness to Page, all four opponents were excellent grapplers and two of them, Demetrious Johnson and Brian Bowles, were Top 5 fighters. Upon his release from the UFC, Page headed to LFC, which was already one of the top feeder organizations in the country and well on its way to the merger that would make it half of Legacy Fighting Alliance. There, “The Angel of Death” dropped to flyweight and won four straight — all finishes, of course — on his way to winning a belt.
While he retired in 2017 after one final farewell fight in his hometown of Albuquerque, Page’s legacy as one of the most reliable action fighters of his day should be secure. More than that, however, his was an underrated career in terms of competitive merit; once he hit his stride, Page only ever stumbled against very good fighters — the controversial loss to Marcelo Costa aside — and managed to pick up some elite scalps along the way.
SIGNATURE MOMENTS: The biggest win of Page’s career from a competitive standpoint was sparking Marcos Galvao at WEC 39 in March 2009. Galvao was a borderline Top 5 bantamweight at the time, having cut a swath through Shooto and come within a draw of winning a title there. Galvao had established himself as one of the preeminent Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in the division, and against an opponent in Page whose last three losses had come by tapout, his best route to victory seemed obvious: get it to the ground at all costs.
Page never gave him the chance, rocking him badly with an overhand right in the opening seconds. As Galvao went reeling back toward the fence, Page turned it into the world’s most one-sided hockey fight, holding Galvao’s head with his left hand and continuing to sock him with the right. The Brazilian collapsed and “The Angel of Death” lived up to his name, finishing things with one final, blistering, standing-to-ground punch. It was all over; Page had destroyed one of the WEC’s most promising prospects in just 18 seconds, using literally nothing but right hands. It was also one of the scariest knockouts in WEC history, as Galvao convulsed and remained out cold for an alarmingly long time.
While Page showed his savage finishing instincts in the Galvao fight, he was also equipped with a level of one-shot power that very, very few flyweights and bantamweights possess, even today. His LFC title win over Brian Hall in 2014 saw Hall do the “Nestea plunge” like a miniature Nate Quarry after Page clipped him with a beautiful sweeping right hand.
THE HOFA COMMITTEE SAYS: “The Angel of Death” is the kind of fighter for which the Hall was built: an exciting, aggressive scrapper whose competitive heights are not reflected by his win-loss record. In other words, he is exactly the kind of fighter future generations of fans might forget or miss out on — unless we who remember make sure to let them know.
It is with great pleasure that we say: Damacio James Page, you are [email protected]#$%&g awesome.