Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Cage Rage 28: VIP on Nuts TV - TV Review

This past Saturday Britain’s Cage Rage mixed martial arts promotion returned to our television screens, live on Nuts TV, with their twenty-eighth show, VIP, held at The Troxy in east London. As usual our hosts for the evening were O.J. Borg and promoter Dave O’Donnell.

The first fight saw action in the middleweight division, with Jack Mason taking on John Hathaway. As soon as the bell rang Mason tried for the take down, but it only succeeded in getting Hathaway into the top position. Lots of struggling between the two until they got to their feet, but with Hathaway taking Mason’s back, it wasn’t long before they went back down, with Hathaway executing a good throw. But again Mason managed to get to his feet, only to find himself slammed back down to the ground, and this was something that would happen again, and with Hathaway again controlling Mason’s back, the man on the bottom soon tapped, having sustained a nasty cut to his eyelid from a previous blow. Very impressive stuff from Hathaway, as he controlled the fight from the beginning, and I look forward to seeing more from him the future.

Fight two saw another Mason, Ross, taking on Scott Jansen in the welterweight division. Both fighters opened up with combinations early, with Mason staggering Jansen early with a couple of blows followed by a knee. Jansen responded quickly, connecting with several knees while in a clinch, one of which went south of the border. The action resumed after Mason rested a while, and it took up right where it left off, with blow met by blow and kick met by kick. It was hard to tell just who was getting the best of it, it was that even. The pace slowed down as the round went on, but bother fighters were still connecting well. Then, Mason caught Jansen with a good leg kick which knocked him off his feet, and moments after Jansen got to his feet Mason took him down. But then, as the round entered it’s last minute, Jansen spent most of the time on his back, looking to connect with an up kick.

Round two, and just a few seconds in Mason connected with a big left that sent Jansen down. Mason went down, but again, Jansen quickly got back to his feet. They then went back to type, moving around the cage, looking to connect whenever they could, only this time Mason was getting the upper hand, first with the kicks, and again with another knockdown. Mason went in for the kill, and although he looked like he was out of it for a few seconds, Jansen was able to defend himself, eventually going back to his lay on the back tactic, and with both fighters doing nothing, the referee stood them back up. Back upright, Mason again looked the better fighter, although his nose had been bloodied a little, and he continued to kick away at Jansen’s lead leg.

Round three, and again they continued where they left off. Mason continued to attack Jansen’s lead leg, and again staggered Jansen with a few good shots, which Jansen responded to immediately. Later on, a rib kick from Mason caused Jansen quite a bit of pain, which hampered him as he went on. It didn’t help that he was caught with a high head kick just a few moments later. As the fight entered it’s last two minutes Mason upped his game considerably, with Jansen constantly on the back foot and looking like a beaten man, especially when Mason caught him with another big left as Mason stalked him around the ring, and by the final bell, Jansen looked in a considerable amount of pain. At the end it was no surprise that the judges gave the unanimous decision to Mason. An exhausting fight for both fighters, with a brilliant performance from Mason.

Next up, Jake Bostwick taking on John Phillips in the light heavyweight division. These two began swinging as soon as the bell sounded, before grappling for position up against the cage, eventually ending up down on the ground with Bostwick in the guard position. Both guys worked for position, but it wasn’t long before they got back to their feet. Seconds later Bostwick scored with a double leg take down, connecting with a few good right handed body shots. Again, Phillips got back to his feet, only to be taken down again just seconds later, and although the Welshman showed some good defence at times, Bostwick still managed to get off a few good shots, before a lack of action forced the referee to stand them back up. Things didn’t stay long that way, as Bostwick scored with another take down, at one moment taking Phillips’ back, with the round ending with Bostwick connecting with a succession of right hands.

Round two, and Bostwick carried on where he’d left off at the end of the first round, taking Phillips down immediately. But nothing happened afterwards, so the referee stood them back up. I think you can guess what happened next - yep, Bostwick got yet another take down, and worked slightly more than he did before. But this didn’t stop the referee from standing them up again. After Phillips connected with a couple of good blows, Bostwick took him down again, but this time Phillips was in the mount position, looking good as he went to work with the ground and pound. Bostwick had no answer to this onslaught, and it wasn’t long before the referee called a halt to the proceedings after Bostwick verbally tapped out. Very good back and forth action here. When it looked like Bostwick was going to win, Phillips came back well and turned things around in a matter of seconds. Great stuff.

Then it’s on to Leigh Remedios taking on Robbie Olivier in the featherweight division. Quite a lengthy feeling out period in this one, with both fighters testing the waters with the occasional punch or kick. This actually went on for almost three minutes, and in truth it wasn’t very exciting, and something of a surprise when Olivier suddenly went for a take down attempt up against the cage, which he eventually pulled off after about thirty seconds. With thirty seconds to go in the round, Olivier upped his game a little, but this round was nothing much to write home about.

Round two began slowly, until Olivier decked Remedios with a right hand which looked to have broken his nose, as well as opening a cut on the bridge of the nose. Olivier the went for the kill, but the referee stopped the fight so the doctors could look at Remedios’ damaged knows. When the fight began, Olivier connected again, but Remedios came back with one shot, before things went back down to the ground. Remedios was now beginning to look like a bloody mess, a perfect target for Olivier to centre on. It certainly was an up and down round, with Olivier doing his best work when they were on the ground. As the round ended Olivier lifted Remedios up high before slamming him down to the mat.

Round three, like the previous round, also began quite slowly. A few punches were exchanged, but nothing really special. Two minutes in and Olivier went for another take down against the cage, which Remedios was able to defend against. After a few moments of this Remedios took Olivier down, applying a guillotine choke. It wasn’t long, though, before Olivier managed to escape, and this was really the last thing of note to happen as the fight came to an end, with the judges giving the unanimous decision to Olivier, a decision that was highly expected. In truth, not really an eventful fight, with one good round sandwiched in between two disappointing rounds, so a mixed bag here.

More action from the featherweight division follows, with Brad Pickett and Antanas Jazbutis. As with the previous fight there was quite a bit of feeling out between the two fighters, with a few exchanges between the two fighters, with Pickett looking the better fighter. Indeed it was Pickett who scored the first take down after blocking a Jazbutis axe kick. Pickett showed he was also good on the ground, transitioning well, before both fighters got back to their feet. Both fighters got off good shits before Pickett scored with another take down. The round ended with the fighters squaring off against each other.

Round two saw both fighters going for combinations, with Pickett looking like he was having a bit more success than Jazbutis. As the round went on Pickett seemed to be on the front foot constantly, although Jazbutis got in a few good shots as well. But as the round went on it seemed as if both fighters were going back to the feeling out process, until a doubled-up left from Picketts opened up a cut above Jazbutis’ eye. Pickett upped his work rate a little as the round came to an end, but it actually wasn’t that interesting to watch.

Round three, and it continued in the same vein, a fighter would move in, get in a couple of shots, then move out before taking a few seconds to look for his next opening. Even when Jazbutis went down and Pickett got off a couple of shots, he seemed to step back afterwards. Then, from out of nowhere, Pickett delivered a hard body shot to Jazbutis which winded the Lithuanian and sent him down. Pickett went in for the kill and got in another couple of punches, but that was enough for the referee, who stepped in to stop the onslaught. Although this was a somewhat dominant performance from Pickett, overall the fight was disappointing.

The final fight of the night, and time for big boys from the heavyweight division, with Roman Webber taking on James McSweeney. This one didn’t even last ten seconds. McSweeney came rushing in, connected with a right knee to the face in the clinch, and Webber was out of it, with the referee stopping things immediately. Explosive stuff from McSweeney here, just what the doctor ordered after the last two fights.

In conclusion - definitely a mixed bag here as far as Cage Rage shows go. While the opening two fights were very good, things seemed to go downhill a little, with Pickett/Jazbutis and Remedios/Olivier failing to deliver for me, only for the show to end on a big high with McSweeney’s explosive knockout of Webber.

But that’s not where the criticisms end. With Cage Rage moving away from Wembley Arena to the smaller Troxy in London’s east end, the atmosphere just didn’t seem to be there. The hook-up with EliteXC made the last couple of Cage Rage shows seem like special events, but this one was lacking that certain something.

The technical aspects were also missing. Some of the camera work was pretty poor, to the point where one of the knockdowns wasn’t actually picked up on the live coverage.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that Cage Rage 28 can be described in one word - disappointing.