Sunday, 16 September 2007

Cage Rage 19 & 20 on Sky Sports - TV Review

Two reviews for the price of one here, as we once again take a look at mixed martial arts here in Britain with reviews of the last two Cage Rage shows that were broadcast on Sky Sports, Cage Rage 19: Fearless, and Cage Rage 20: Born 2 Fight.
Starting with Fearless, we begin with a Brazilian super fight in the lightweight division between Danilo Cherman and Jean Silva. The first round was a joy to behold, as both men put on an excellent display of grappling and submission moves, with both men enjoying moments of domination. Cherman dominated for the most part in the second, who again used some great grappling skill as he tried for a submission time and time again. Silva unloaded with a couple of good shots towards the end, but he was mainly on the defensive throughout the round. The third round with Silva going on the offensive for the first time, almost getting the victory with an armbar, but Cherman was able to work his way out of the hold, and again dominated the remainder of the round, and it really was no surprise when Cherman got the judge’s decision in what was an impressive outing for him.
We move onto to the welterweight division next, Brazil against England as Luis Azeredo faces Paul Daley. The first round certainly was explosive, as Azeredo went after Daley straight off the bat, taking him down, then body slamming him, then taking a few steps back before taking Daley down again. But it wasn’t always going his way, as Daley caught him with a few good shots in the stand-up game, opening up a nasty cut above his left eye. The second was fought at a slightly slower pace. Azeredo was able to get some good take downs, but Daley showed some great defensive skills as he tried to fend off Azeredo’s attacks, and only really showed more when the fight went up to the stand up, showing some great boxing skills, and it was these boxing skills which Daley used to good effect at the start of the third, but sadly only for a few seconds as Azeredo’s grappling skills again came to the fore and again dominated, and as the bout came to an end Azeredo almost applied a rear naked choke, which surely Daley would have tapped to had the bell not saved him. Azeredo would go on to get the unanimous judge’s decision because of his great work.
Going back down to the lightweight division next as Japan’s Daisuke Nakamura challenges Brazil’s Vitor Rebeiro for the Cage Rage World Lightweight title. Plenty of action in the one and only round here, as Rebeiro spent a great deal of time going for the armbar, which ended up in the referee stopping the fight and awarding the victory to the champion, even though Nakamura didn’t tap, the referee stopping the fight when it looked like Nakamura’s arm had broken. There looked to be some controversy about the decision at first, until replays revealed what happened. A good decision by the referee here.
Time for the light-heavyweights next, as Australia’s Elvis Sinosic faces England’s Mark Epstein. A quick one here, and a good fight. Epstein looked good at the stand up game, unloading with a few good shots, but Sinosic took him down and quickly locked in an armbar, with Epstein tapping almost immediately. A good performance from Sinosic here. Although he was never really in trouble, he did enough to get the quick win.
On to middleweight action, as Brit-Croat Zelg Galesic challenges England’s Mark Weir for the Cage Rage British Middleweight title. This one didn’t last a minute. Galesic took Weir down, and then unleashed with the ground and pound to quickly take the champ out, winning the title. Only one thing I can say about Galesic’s performance here - awesome.
Main event time, and we move on to the big boys, as America’s Butterbean, probably better known to many of you readers for his appearances in the WWF a few years ago, making his Cage Rage debut against England’s Rob Broughton. Butterbean looks like he’s put on quite a bit of weight since his boxing days - and he was a big lad then! This was proof that boxers entering MMA really need to learn new skills. The first round saw Butterbean looking like a fish out of water when Broughton took him down, and he didn’t exactly look that good when trying to get off a few punches in the stand up confrontation. The second round saw Butterbean looking like a beached whale. As Broughton kept hitting him with the quick jab, Butterbean hardly hit his opponent at all, looking too immobile to do anything, and when Broughton took him and down and unleashed with the ground and pound, Butterbean tapped as the blows rained down on him, and while Broughton looked great as he dominated, Butterbean looked like he shouldn’t even have been in there in the first place.
On to Cage Rage 20: Born 2 Fight, beginning with action in the featherweight division as Ashleigh Grimshaw against Ronnie Mann. Mann caught Grimshaw early on, knocking him down, and even though Grimshaw got a take down, it was clear the Mann was the more dominant force in the opening round. It was pretty much the same in the second round, Mann attacking, and Grimshaw showing some great defensive tactics. The great action continued into the third and final round, with each man on top for periods of time, and in the end the judges award the decision to Ronnie Mann. A great example of British MMA here, and given their young age, these two fighters could go far.
Next up, welterweight action as Britain’s Marios Zaromskis takes on France’s Damien Ricco. Some great action in the first round saw Zaromskis knock Ricco down early, then attempt a triangle choke, only for the Frenchman to fight his way out and almost apply a heel hook. The second began in almost the same way, with Zaromskis again catching Ricco with some good shots, but Ricco was able to open up a nasty cut near Zaromskis’ left eye. Both fighters looked visibly tired going into the final round, with Ricco seemingly having no defence against Zarmoskis’ pounding attack, but the Brit earned the ire of the referee, connecting with a football kick while Ricco was on the ground without the referee calling for the open guard. Then, with Zaromskis opening a cut over Ricco’s eye, the judge stopped the fight on the doctor’s advice, although given his dominance, the Brit fighter probably would have won anyway.
Title action next for the vacant Cage Rage World Featherweight title as Japan’s Masakazu Imanari tackles England’s Robbie Olivier. Imanari tried to start things early with a quick flying kick, but he continued with the quick attack as just seconds later he secured an armbar out of a flying front kick, which Olivier quickly tapped out to. An impressive title-winning performance from the Japanese star here in a fight lasting just twenty-seven seconds.
We then move up to the heavyweight division as America’s Tom Howard faces England’s Tom Blackledge. Another fight that didn’t last long. Blackledge got Howard in a reverse waistlock, and as Howard turned around, Blackledge connected with a roundhouse kick that sent the American flying and the blood flowing, with the referee calling for the knockout victory straight away, ironic because the commentators were starting to sing the praises of the former Green Beret.
We stick with the heavyweights as Mark Buchanan faces Robert Berry. The third fight in a row that didn’t last very long saw both men trying to grapple for position early on, until Berry got into a position where he was unable to unleash with the ground and pound which Buchanan had no answer to as he tapped out. Berry looked great in this one.
Time for the second title fight of the night as Tengiz Tedoradze challenges Rob Broughton, the man who made short work of Butterbean, for the Cage Rage British Heavyweight title. Things looked pretty even in the first round, although Tengiz was able to connect with a few good shots, bloodying Broughton’s face. Tengiz took control in the second round as Broughton’s face became a bloody mess, with the referee stopping the fight and awarding the title and victory to the challenger.
Continuing with the big guys, The Smashing Machine himself, Mark Kerr, makes his Cage Rage debut against England’s Mostapha Al-Turk. Mostapha was clearly the dominant force in this fight, as Kerr simply had no answer to Mostapha’s tactics, tapping out to the ground and pound in the first round. This can be viewed in one of two ways - an impressive performance from Mostapha, or a disappointing performance from Kerr.
Main event time, as Butterbean makes his second Cage Rage appearance, going up against England’s James Thompson. Butterbean looked slightly more mobile than he did in his first right, quickly connecting with an overhand right to knock Thompson off his feet, with the referee calling for a quick call to the fight, a somewhat controversial decision as the punch hardly connected and Thompson still looked like he was in full control of his senses. It wasn’t an impressive performance from Butterbean here, and Thompson was clearly robbed of the decision.
In conclusion - for me, these two shows prove that Cage Rage is the biggest mixed martial arts promotion in Britain right now. Some highly impressive fighters currently ply their trade in their octagon, and given the fact that their shows sell out with great regularity, it will be interesting to compare their gates to those of the Ultimate Fighting Championship when they return to these shores in April. Also, the signing of Bob Sapp will do a lot to raise their profile worldwide, even though, personally, I’ve never really been a fan of the big man and rarely enjoy his fights.
One criticism I must make though is about one aspect of the television coverage. I was critical in the past when Sky Sports only gave Cage Rage a one hour timeslot, and I was more than pleased when they got a two hour deal. However, even though they now have an extra hour to play with, a lot of the early fights of Cage Rage 20 were clipped, which made it difficult to follow the action - and to write this review. But in all I say well done Cage Rage for continuing to promote the British MMA scene.
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