Monday, 2 June 2008

Cage Gladiators on ITV4 - TV Review

This past Saturday British television channel ITV4 took their second stab at broadcasting an MMA show. Having shown just two episodes of the IFL last year, they’ve now turned their attentions closer to home with the Cage Gladiators promotion, showing matches from their recent Stand-Off show. The hosts for the show are Rob Hallam and Tom Baxter, with Emile Coleman and Kazeca Muniz handling the commentary duties.
The first fight of the show takes part in the 70 kilo division, with Mark Glover facing Mick Bowman, with both fighters making their professional debuts. Lasting just under two and a half minutes, Glover dominated from the start, taking Bowman down straight away, transitioning from position to position, before taking his back and synching in a rear naked choke, with Bowman tapping seconds later. Good performance from Glover here.
Then, in the 84 kilo division, Thomasz Kozwolski faced Andy Wadsworth. This one didn’t last as long as the last one. After the initial slugfest, Kozwolski took Wadsworth down, quickly got the mount, before moving onto to the back before getting the win with a rear naked choke. Kozwolski was clearly the better fighter here, while Wadsworth showed just why this was his professional debut.
Next, in the 73 kilo division, Tim Radcliffe faces Lee Barnes. Another quick fight saw a quick exchange of knees before Radcliffe tripped Barnes and took the side mount before moving to the full mount, where he unleashed with the ground and pound. He then took Barnes’ back, applied the rear naked choke, and got the tap out victory, all done in 94 seconds. Not a bad performance from Radcliffe, especially when you consider that he took the fight on very short notice.
It’s up to the 77 kilo division next with Mark Mills taking on Lucasz Les. Yet another quick fight here, with Les sliding across the cage to take Mills down, and that’s when the domination again. First Les tried for the ground and pound, then for an armbar, before taking Mills’ back for the second time and using the rear naked choke for the tap out victory. Four dominating performances in a row here.
Down to the 65 kilo divisions with UFC veteran Dave Lee facing Vaughn Harvey. This one was action packed, with some good exchanges on the ground at the beginning, before Lee began to gain full control, eventually taking Harvey’s back and applying the, yep, you guessed it, the rear naked choke for the submission victory. The best fight of the show so far, mainly because it was nice to see a fighter fight back for a change.
Then it’s on to the women’s division, with Anna Halliday facing Diane Berry, with the vacant women’s title on the line. Another action packed encounter, and again with one fighter dominating throughout saw Berry take control in a clinch against the cage, pulling Halliday’s head down so she could connect with numerous knees. Then, when the clinch broke up, Halliday made a fatal error, pulling her top down. Berry pounced, unloading with a barrage of blows which Halliday had no answer to, and the referee soon stepped in to stop the fight, awarding the TKO victory to Berry. A very good contest here, and who says women can’t fight?
Back to the men, and this time in the 84 kilo division, with Mamarizoev Jahongir facing Lee Chadwick. This was the first fight on the show to go more than one round. Both fighters had their moment in the first round, with Chadwick almost getting a rear naked choke synched in, before Jahongir had some success with some low kicks to Chadwick’s knee.
The second round saw both men preferring to stand up and fight. Jahongir continued with his tactic of kicking Chadwick’s leading leg, throwing in a few jabs for good measure, while Chadwick, who for most of the fight kept his hands dangerously low, also had his moments, although the round looked pretty even.
The third round began how the second one ended, before Chadwick took it down to the mat. Then something odd happened, as the referee stopped the fight then made them start again in exactly the same position. Why he did this nobody knows, but it gave Chadwick the chance to gain the advantage, which soon allowed him to take Jahongir’s back as he tried to synch in the rear naked choke, which Jahongir was able to easily defend against. When this failed, Chadwick came down with a few punches, before trying for the choke again as the clock ran down and the round ended, meaning that the judges decisions came into play. Their decision - a split decision draw. A fair decision for both men I suppose, although Chadwick could have done a bit more to get the submission win before the end.
Down to the 70 kilo division next, with Will Burke facing Paul Sass. Lasting just over a minute, an early exchange of blows was followed by a quick takedown by Sass. Seconds later he locked in a triangle choke, and had the submission victory. Good stuff here, and at least it wasn’t a rear naked choke!
Main event time, with the vacant World Lightweight title on the line, with Abdul Mohammad against Luciano Azevedo. A good fight here with both fighters looking great to start off with, before Azevedo took the fight to the ground with a trip. Soon, Mohammad found himself in a triangle choke, with Azevedo raining blows down on the top of his head as well. Azevedo seemed to have the hold synched in for an age as Mohammad tried to escape, but eventually he could give no more and tapped, giving the Brazilian the submission victory and the world title. A very good performance from the Brazilian here.
In conclusion - my first experience of the Cage Gladiators product is a good one. The fights were enjoyable, and the commentators did a good job of calling the action, although I was left to wonder if hosts Hallam and Baxter were really needed. As for the production values, while it would be unfair to compare them to the mighty UFC, my only gripes are that a couple of the fights from the original card weren’t shown, and given the lack of introductions for some of the fights, there were no on-screen graphics telling us what colours the fighters were wearing. But apart from that, good stuff here. Now maybe ITV4 will get off their backsides and show more IFL stuff, which they cancelled after just TWO EPISODES!