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Inverness mixed martial-artist Houston loses Bellator debut against Page by unanimous decision

By Andrew Henderson

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Ross Houston's Bellator debut was not a cause for celebration as he lost by unanimous decision to Michael "Venom" Page.

In what promised to be a clash of styles, with Page holding the record for the most stoppages and knockouts in the history of Bellator's welterweight division while Houston has a strong ground game, the fight was something of an anti-climax.

Both men started cautiously in the first round, with the only early attempt at a headkick from Houston seeing him lose his balance – but he managed to recover his base without taking any damage.

In fact, the Hitman managed to score a takedown in the first which looked like giving him the advantage, but he was unable to inflict any damage on his opponent on the ground.

Page looked more cautious at the start of the second – apparently because of getting caught the previous round although he later attributed it to the canvas being particularly slippery – and so Houston went back to what had already worked for him.

The Highland Martial Arts Centre head coach attempted another takedown, but this time Page managed to sprawl and keep his ground, forcing Houston's back to the cage in a clinch.

There Page's power showed, as he threw Houston aside to the ground and looked to press ahead.

A hammerfist that caught the back of Houston's head forced a brief stoppage, as referee Todd Anderson allowed the Hitman time to recover from the illegal blow.

Another failed takedown attempt signalled the end of round two, and if the first was arguably Houston's there was no doubt that the second would go against him in the judges' scorecards.

With both fighters knowing that the third round was potentially going to be decisive – whether that came down to the judges or because of a stoppage – it turned out to be something of an anti-climax.

The crowd allowed in to the arena in Paris even began to get restless, booing both men for their lack of activity.

Houston was the only man to have sustained any real damage, with a cut opening up under his left eye from a Page punch in the second, while Page had only gone the distance three times in his 18-fight record.

The Hitman did attempt another takedown, but was once again denied, and although he managed to fight back to his feet time was called.

Of the three judges, all of them plumped for Page in the end with two giving MVP all three rounds while one gave Houston a solitary round.

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