Sunday, 16 September 2007

Cage Rage 18: Battleground on Sky Sports - TV Review

Finally, it’s happened. After giving us just one hour highlight shows of their events, British mixed martial arts promotion Cage Rage finally secured a two hour slot from Sky Sports, so MMA fans around the country can see more of their most recent show, Cage Rage 18: Battleground, held before a sold out at the Wembley Arena, and with guys like Kimo Leopoldo and Ian “The Machine” Freeman on the show, it certainly looked promising.

We begin with action from the middleweight division, as Zelg Galesic takes on James E-Nicolle. A quickie to start the show with. There was lots of stalling from both fighters, until Galesic caught E-Nicolle with a good shot that put him on his backside. Galesic followed up with an axe kick before going for the ground and pound as the referee stopped the fight after just two minutes of the first round, with Galesic winning a shot at British champion Mark Weir in December.

Still in the middleweight division as Alex Cook battles the Frenchman Professor X. A moderate pace to begin this one, with X controlling the match and the ring, getting Cook to follow him around. Then things were stepped up a bit when Cook took X down, but the Frenchman quickly synched in the armbar for the submission victory towards the end of the first round.

Moving down to the welterweight division, it’s Sol Gilbert challenging Paul Daley for the British Welterweight title. Early on it was a tale of two different tactics, as Gilbert controlled the stand up game, while Daley looked good at the takedowns. Despite this it was a Daley left shot that took Gilbert down, who then pounced on his man for the knockout man in the second round, with Daley getting the title-retaining win.

Then it’s a return to the middleweight division, with Tony Frykland and Alex Reid. Reid looked good to begin with, but after a takedown, Frykland quickly synched in a heel hook for the submission victory after just ninety seconds, with Reid having to tap out twice because the referee didn’t see the first one.

Down to the lightweight division next, as Abdul Mohamed challenges Vitor Ribeiro for the World Lightweight title. Ribeiro was very impressive in this one. Mohamed got off a few good shots to start off with, but Ribeiro soon took him down, and despite Mohamed’s attempts to escape, Ribeiro synched in the kimura, and Mohamed tapped. The champion had done it, and retained his title in the first round.

It’s then time for the big boys to show their stuff in the heavyweight division, with Robert Berry challenging Rob Broughton for the British title. Berry looked nervous before the fight even began, and despite synching in a standing side choke for a few moments, his nerves should through as Broughton controlled him to good effect, finally getting the knock out victory with a good combination of blows to retain his title in the first round.

Sticking with the big boys as Kimo Leopoldo takes on Dave Legeno. This was one fight I was really looking forward to. Something of an upset here, as no matter how hard Kimo tried, Legeno escaped from his takedown attempts, unloading with a few good shots throughout, before getting the submission with a guillotine choke in an impressive showing.

We move back down to the middleweight division for the next fight, as Murilo Ninja Rua faces Mark Weir. The first round saw plenty of action. Weir got off a couple of good shots before Ninja took him down and had a couple of submission attempts. Weir managed to escape a couple of times, but as the round came to an end, Ninja tried to synch in a side choke. Weir began the second round like a house afire, unloading with a series of punches and kicks before taking Ninja down and applying a guillotine choke. But Ninja soon escaped from this attempt, took the side guide, and again applied the side choke to get the tap out victory in what was a great fight.

Main event time, as former UFC star Ian “The Machine” Freeman challenges Mark Epstein for the British Light-Heavyweight title, another one of the matches I was really looking forward to. Round one was certainly action packed, beginning with Epstein knocking Freeman on his backside, before Freeman came back with a takedown and a couple of submission attempts, before Epstein returned the fight to the upright as both guys stood toe to toe, slugging it out. Freeman dominated the second, taking Epstein down and controlling it throughout with his ground and pound technique, causing some damage to Epstein’s face. It was the same throughout the third and final round, as Epstein had no answer to Freeman’s relentless ground and pound assault, and his efforts in the second and third round paid off as the judges award the bout to the new champion with a unanimous decision.

In conclusion - I’m really pleased that Cage Rage and Sky Sports have changed the format of their show, changing from a one hour highlights show to a full two hour show, and although there were a couple of cuts in a couple of the fights, it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the show. Cage Rage are certainly putting on some good shows at the moment, and I’m sure this will continue with their next show in December.

For more information on Cage Rage and their upcoming shows, log onto
www.cagerage.tv