Monday, 17 September 2007

Cage Rage 21: Judgement Day on Sky Sports - TV Review

It certainly was a busy time for mixed martial arts fans here in Britain this past weekend. With a full review of UFC 70: Nations Collide to follow, we’re going to start things off at Wembley Arena with Cage Rage 21: Judgement Day, the first time that Cage Rage had ever been shown live on British television.
The broadcast begins in the middleweight division, with Pride veteran Murilo “Ninja” Rua facing Alex Reid. This one didn’t last a minute. A fast start saw Reid open up a deep cut on his shin following a clash with Rua’s knee, which just oozed blood. Within seconds of the cut opening the referee had no choice but to stop the fight, awarding the victory to the Ninja. An unfortunate ending for Reid there.
Next up, a heavyweight bout fought under K-1 rules, as Michael McDonald taking on James McSweeney. A bout of mixed fortunes for both fighters in this one. McSweeney was able to knock McDonald to the canvas twice, one after a spectacular flying knee, and for a few moments it looked like the fight might end in the first. But McDonald began to recover in the second and third as McSweeney visibly tired, before managing to come back well towards the end. In the end, and probably because of his first round performance, McSweeney got the unanimous judge’s decision. A really good fight here, which certainly made up for the disappointing early end of the previous fight.
The third fight, for the vacant Cage Rage World Light-Heavyweight title, sees Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos against James Zikic. The first round saw Zikic looking like he didn’t know what to do as Santos unleashed several flurries of punches and kicks, which Zikic simply didn’t respond to until the latter stages of the round. It was a totally different Zikic that came out for the second round, more confident in his abilities as he slowly turned up the heat on Santos, connecting with a series of kicks and punches, while Santos seemed to turn things down a notch. Although hampered by the left leg that Santos had been targeting with a series of vicious kicks, Zikic continued with his renewed vigour in the third round, while Santos seemed to be tiring quite badly. With the fight going the three round distance, the judges award the majority decision and the vacant title to Zikic. A deserving win, coming back well after that disappointing first round.
Sticking with the light-heavyweight division, as Italy’s Ivan Serati, making his Cage Rage debut, takes on former UFC star Vitor Belfort. This one was all Vitor. He controlled the fight for the beginning, totally overwhelming Serati, controlling him on the ground, and unable to respond as Belfort unleashed with a barrage of blows from a semi-rear mount, with the referee stopping the bout and awarding the win to Belfort. A really impressive performances from the Phenom here.
Main event time in the heavyweight division, as Gary Turner faces UFC legend Tank Abbott, who came in at short notice after “The Beast” Bob Sapp pulled out for personal reasons. Seeing as how I’ve never been a fan of Sapp and I’m a fan of Abbott, this was certainly a plus for me. Sadly, the big guy came up short here. Despite an opening barrage from Tank in the opening moments of the bout. Turner was able to withstand the blows, coming back well, taking down the legend and unleashing with his own barrage which Tank didn’t respond to, with the referee calling a halt to the fight seconds later, Turner winning via ground and pound. Although I was disappointed with Tank’s performance, Turner did extremely well to come back in the way he did.
In conclusion - save for Alex Reid’s unfortunate injury, Cage Rage 21 was a great show. It’s just a shame though that the UFC scheduled their Manchester show at the same time, which meant that all the mainstream publicity went to Michael Bisping. Had this not been the case I’m sure we would have heard a lot more about Cage Rage and their first live television show. But despite these apparent setbacks, the show delivered, and it was lucky for those of us who watched UFC 70 live that Sky scheduled an early morning repeat.
So is Cage Rage the number one MMA company in Britain at the moment? Certainly, and let’s hope that they’ll be bringing us more live televised shows in the future.