Monday, 14 July 2008

Cage Rage 27: Step Up on Nuts TV - TV Review

Cage Rage have gone nuts - literally. With Sky Sports deciding not to renew their television contract, Cage Rage have found a new home on the lesser known Nuts TV channel, and it’s here that Cage Rage 27: Step Up was broadcast live this past Saturday, with a British Heavyweight title fight, and the Cage Rage debut of the Bad Ass himself, Phil Baroni.

The first fight of the show sees action from the heavyweight division, with Stav Economou and Piotor Kusmierz. This is actually the second time I’ve seen Stav in action, as he was the subject of a piece on BBC Look East a few months ago. But anyway, back to the fight. The first round began quickly, with both men beginning the slugfest by staggering the other with good shots, before Stav got a good take-down. However, they only stayed on the ground a matter of seconds as they returned to their slugging ways, each men getting in more good shots that had the other reeling, although the pace noticeably slowed as the round went on, with Stav looking the better fighter, and getting another take-down as the round came to an end.

Round two began at a much slower pace, their exertions in the first having taken their tool before Stav got his third take-down of the night, going for the ground and pound. Piotor kept pushing his opponent away, but Stav regained control in a very inventive way, jumping into the air and coming down on top of Piotor in the side control position, almost as if he was executing a big splash in a wrestling match. Piotor wasn’t in this position for long though, able to get into the full mount position and opening up a cut above Stav’s eye. But with little happening the referee stood both fighters up, and have the Polish fighter a warning for sticking a thumb in Stav’s eye. Piotor looked exhausted as the round went on, unable to defend against Stav’s blows, or anything else for that matter as Stav picked him up and held him on his shoulder before slamming him to the ground. This was another good round for Stav.

Round three, and the fatigue was apparent for all to see. Barely any foot movement from either fighter at the beginning, with Piotor not doing anything as Stav connected with jabs and kicks. Piotor really looked like a beaten man as the round went on, bereft of any ideas with his physical and emotional exhaustion, and this was most evident as Piotor threw a right that did nothing to Stav but staggered the fighter himself. But as Stav looked to cement his control of the round, Piotor dug in deep and pulled out a few punches before Stav went for a take-down, only to be blocked. As they did nothing against the fence, the referee pulled them apart, which proved to be the final action of the fight as the round came to an end. Stav was declared the win via unanimous decision, and rightfully so after a good performance. Hopefully we’ll see more from this Essex boy in Cage Rage soon.

Then it’s on to John Phillips against Tom Watson in the middleweight division. A fight between two men known for their striking started off quickly, before Watson managed to get the take-down. From there it seemed to be all Watson as he transitioned extremely well, with Phillips seemingly unable to do anything against him. But as the round entered it’s last minute Phillips went for a guillotine, but it meant nothing as Watson soon escaped and went for some more ground and pound. But then Watson scored with an illegal knee as Phillips was trying to get back to his feet, although he only got a warning from the referee instead of a points deduction, a very fair decision there, and the last thing of note to happen in the round.

A few fists were exchanged at the beginning of the second round, before Watson went for a take-down, which Phillips defended for an extended period until he finally succumbed. But as soon as they hit the mat Phillips locked in a guillotine, which Watson easily escaped from, and from where he regained control of the fight again, with some more excellent transition and ground and pound. Once again Phillips seemed to have no answer for Watson’s tactics. But even though Watson seemed to be on top throughout, he seemed unable to finish it.

Phillips began the third round with a good combination, but it wasn’t long before Watson scored with another take-down. Although tiring, Watson again dominated on the ground, again transitioning well, with Phillips again having no answer to Watson’s questions. The last minute saw Watson taking Phillips’ back and going for a rear naked choke, which he never managed to synch in, before looking for an armbar just as the final bell sounded. It came as no surprise when Watson got the unanimous decision, such was his dominance in this fight in what was an excellent performance.

Heavyweight action followed, with James McSweeney and Mustapha Alturk fighting it out for the vacant British title. Within seconds of the first bell Alturk scored with a take-down before he went for the ground and pound, soon bloodying McSweeney’s nose. McSweeney turned to try and stop the attack, but Alturk continued with the assault, and with McSweeney offering no defence at all, the referee stepped in to stop the fight, with Alturk winning the vacant title with a dominating performance, even though he scored with a couple of shots to the back of the head.

The heavyweight action continues into the next fight, with Neil Grove taking on Robert Berry, the man who disposed of Ken Shamrock. The first round began with both men adopting the feeling out tactic, each man probing with punches and kicks. In truth it was interesting to watch, even though it wasn’t action packed. Then Berry went for a take-down, which Grove defended against very well, until Berry soon got the move he was looking for. Berry couldn’t do much at first while Grove held his arms, and it wasn’t long before both men were back on their feet, with Berry trying to take Grove’s back as the round came to an end.

Round two began in the same way, with a good exchange of punches and a Grove low kick that staggered Berry a little. Grove did well with the leg kicks until a right knocked Berry down. Grove went in for the ground and pound, and it was only a couple of seconds later when the referee stepped in to stop the fight. A very good performance from Grove as he looks to get back into title contention.

Main event time, welterweight action with Scott Jansen facing Phil Baroni. This one didn’t last long. Baroni scored with an early take-down, with Jansen doing well as he tried to defend his position. Jansen defended well against Baroni’s kimura attempt. Then, after the referee stood the fighters up because of inactivity, Baroni scored with a right uppercut that sent Jansen crashing, unconscious before he hit the ground. Then came the drama. As the doctors were checking on Jansen, and Baroni was making sure his opponent was okay, a guy, whether it was a fan or Jansen’s friend, was also standing over Jansen and head butted Baroni as he looked on. Needless to say he was soon escorted from the cage, and probably from the building as well. As for the fight, a good performance from Baroni.

In conclusion - despite the fact that they’ve lost their contract with this country’s biggest sports channel, Dave O’Donnell and his band of merry men once again delivered a top notch show. Five good fights on the broadcast here, with the Watson/Phillips battle fight of the night for me. Nuts TV may not be a channel that everybody knows about, but with the main Cage Rage shows now on their schedule, British mixed martial arts fans will certainly be drawn to the channel now.

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