Monday, 17 September 2007

Cage Rage 22: Hard as Hell on Sky Sports - TV Review

While Amir Khan was breaking the jaw of Willie Limond to win the Commonwealth Lightweight boxing title at the former Millennium Dome in London, over the other side of town, the Cage Rage mixed martial arts promotion were presenting their twenty-second event, Hard as Hell, at Wembley Arena, shown live on Sky Sports here in Britain.
The first fight of the broadcast sees action in the heavyweight division, as Edson Draggo faces Gary Turner, fresh off a victory over UFC legend Tank Abbott. This certainly was an interesting fight. The first round started off really quickly, but mid-way through the round, Draggo was docked a point for elbowing Murray while they were on the mat, something that is against the rules in Cage Rage. The second round was a stop-start affair, containing some good action and exchanges from both fighters, but the flow of things was stopped when the referee called in the doctor twice, first to check on a cut on Draggo, and then to do the same on Turner. However, Draggo’s cut was worse, as his corner pulled him out before the start of the third round, with Turner declared the winner.
Then it was down to the light-heavyweight division, with Mario Sperry, against Lee Hasdell, both of whom were making their Cage Rage debuts. The Brazilian was highly impressive here, controlling the fight from the start, and quickly synching in a rear naked choke to get the submission victory in the first round. A great victory for the veteran Sperry on his debut, and hopefully he’ll be back in Britain soon.
Back up to the heavyweights next, as Neil Grove, another Cage Rage debutant, and who took the fight on short notice, takes on James Thompson. This one lasted just ten seconds. Grove unloaded with the bombs early, and soon, Thompson was sprawled out on the mat after a hard right to the temple, as Thompson’s losing streak on British soil continued, while Grove announced his arrival on the British MMA scene.
Still with the heavyweights as Herb Dean faces Dave Legeno, and before you ask, yes, it is that Herb Dean, usually seen as a referee in the UFC and other promotions. I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed with this one, mainly because of the outcome. The first round was very much the proverbial game of two halves, with Legeno looking good with the stand-up in the first half of the round, while Dean controlled the second half on the mat, almost synching in a heel hook. But before the second round could even begin, Dean pulled out of the fight, complaining that he couldn’t see out of his right eye after getting accidentally getting caught there.
Main event time in the heavyweight division, as Tengiz Tedoradze faces Butterbean. Regular readers of this column will know that I’ve never been a fan of Butterbean during his forays into K-1 and the mixed martial arts world, and once again he failed to impress. Although he managed to connect with a good punch that knocked Tengiz off his feet, Tengiz came back very quickly, scrambling out of the way as Butterbean unloaded on him, than getting a semi-side mount and unleashing with a barrage of blows, opening up a cut on Butterbean and getting the win via ground and pound. An impressive performance from Tengiz, but proof once again that if he is to succeed in the MMA world, then Butterbean must add some other disciplines to his boxing skills.
In conclusion - well, it’s not the UFC, but Cage Rage once again showed why they’re considered the top MMA promotion in Britain at the moment, and while a couple of the fights were disappointing, this was still a good show. Kudos to Dave and Andy for putting on another good show, and kudos to Sky Sports for once again giving British MMA fans a chance to see the action live on television.