Thursday, 6 November 2008

Cage Rage Fighting Hurts Live Final on Nuts TV - TV Review

It’s Britain’s answer to The Ultimate Fighter, and I haven’t seen any of the episodes. In fact I didn’t even know that the live final was being shown until I checked the digital television guide to see if there was live boxing on Nuts TV. So this past Saturday, after a near two hour power cut, I tuned into the aforementioned Nuts TV for the live final of Cage Rage’s Fighting Hurts, or as some others would call it, Cage Rage Contenders 11, held at The Troxy in London.

The show begins in the light-heavyweight division, with Peter Bowen taking on Carl Lawrence. No feeling out process for these two debutants in the first round. Bowen swung a little, and Lawrence tried to get a guillotine straight away, but with that going nowhere, he took Bowen down. Quick transitions followed, with Bowen getting into the top position. Both guys worked well, each getting the advantage at one point or another. As the round entered it’s final minute, Lawrence was in the guard, trying to look for an opening.

Round two began with both fighters trading blows, before it quickly went back down to the mat with Bowen trying to synch in a guillotine, which like Lawrence’s in the previous round, came to nothing. The pace really began to slow down early on, and it told as the referee stood the fighters up when nothing was achieved on the ground. When it went back to the stand-up, the fatigue was there for all to see as they tried to land a shot or two. A second trip to the mat resulted in a second order to stand back up. This round was certainly lacking the intensity of the first. Everything about it was so much poorer, as both fighters just looked too tired to fight. But after the referee stood them up for a third time, Bowen got his second wind, knocking Lawrence down with a big right hand, before finishing off his bloodied opponent with the ground and pound, and with Lawrence offering nothing in return, the referee stepped in and called a halt to proceedings. Definitely the proverbial game of two halves, an explosive first round and a somewhat sloppy second round, before Bowen sucked it in and connected with the big blow.

Then it was down to the middleweight division, with Steve Dossett facing Brett Bassett. Round one, and Dossett immediately tested the waters with a couple of snapping low kicks. Bassett responded with a couple of rights as both fighters began to weigh each other up. But then Dossett scored a knockdown, and quickly got into the guard position, looking for the ground and pound, while Bassett responded with a triangle choke, a move which proved successful, as Dossett tapped within seconds of the choke being applied. A very good fight here, even though it was a little short.

Right down to the featherweight division next, with Davin Byfield against Giorgio Andrews. No feeling out process in the first round as the fighters quickly went down to the mat, with quick transitions that saw them quickly return to their feet before engaging in a clinch that took them around the cage, and Andrews soon getting the take down. But Byfield was soon able to get back to his feet, if only for a few seconds as Andrews took it back down to the mat and took side mount, before moving into half guard, with Byfield doing all he could to defend his position. It certainly was interesting to watch as Byfield once again escaped, only for Andrews to return the fight to the ground. As the round went into it’s last minute, Byfield finally went onto the offensive, getting into Andrew’s guard, only for Andrews to reverse the situation, get into the mount position, before taking Byfield’s back and synching in the rear naked choke. There was only one thing that Byfield could do, and that was tap. An extremely good performance from Andrews in this one, dominating for the most part.

Welterweight action follows, with Steve Elliot taking on Richard Griffin. Round one saw the fighters trade early, until Elliot slammed Griffin down with authority. After some quick work on the ground the fighters returned to their feet briefly, until Elliot took the fight back down to the mat. Griffin tried for a guillotine that came to nothing, which was followed by Elliot taking side control momentarily. Seconds later they returned to their feet, and a knee strike from Griffin inadvertently caught Elliot south of the border. After a brief rest period, the fighters began to exchange again, before going back down to the mat, with Elliot looking for the knee bar and then the heel hook. Griffin then went for the ground and pound, before Elliot reversed into the guard position, transitioning into an armbar attempt, which Griffin defended with more ground and pound. After Griffin freed his arm, he upped his ground and pound, and Griffin looked in trouble for a while until the bell saved him.

Round two began with Elliot showing the effects of Griffin’s attack. Griffin went on the offence from the get go, and he was soon in the guard and going for the ground and pound again. All Elliot could do was defend, until he went for another armbar and quickly got back into Griffin’s guard, going for the ground and pound of his own. But Griffin was able to reverse the move himself, getting into Elliot’s guard, only to find himself in another Elliot armbar attempt. Griffin was able to escape, but immediately found himself in a side choke attempt, which also failed. So with Griffin again returning to the guard position, he again went for the ground and pound, but looked tired in doing so. This gave Elliot the chance he needed, locking in a kimura, with Griffin tapping immediately. This was one of those fights you just couldn’t take your eyes off, a back and forth affair good enough to be on a main Cage Rage card, so maybe we’ll get to see these two against each other on the main stage soon.

On to the lightweight division next, with Sami Berik facing Afnan Saeed. Round one and Berik began to tease Saeed immediately, switching stances as he came forward. But seconds later the fight went down to the mat, with Saeed taking the guard. But they soon returned to their feet, and Berik’s quick fists staggered Saeed, and the fight soon went back downstairs, but a quick return to their feet saw Berik connect with a big left hook which knocked Saeed senseless, but didn’t sent him down, still on his feet but leaning against the cage, but clearly unconscious. Berik hit him with a right, but when he realised that Saeed was out of hit, he immediately apologised to the referee, who called an halt to proceedings straight away. Good little fight here, with Berik’s performance a good one.

Main event time, the Fighting Hurts final, a light-heavyweight fight with Leigh Alliss and Dyson Roberts. The first round began with the fighters exchanging blows, with Roberts favouring the low kick. The exchanges continued for a while, until Alliss’ right hand got the better of Roberts, who responded immediately with a take down, quickly going into side mount. Alliss soon reversed the position, and went for a guillotine, which went to nowhere. Then it was Roberts’ turn to try a guillotine, which Alliss defended by slamming his opponent down. More transitioning followed, with Roberts going for another guillotine. Both fighters remained busy on the ground, but not enough for the referee, who stood the fighters up, and in the last thirty seconds Alliss’ boxing credentials showed again as he connected with a couple of good shots, with Roberts coming back with a take down.

Round two, and both fighters began to swing for the trees again. Alliss got a good shot on Roberts, who responded with another takedown, taking the mount position, and then transitioning with another guillotine. But it wasn’t long before Alliss took the guard, with Roberts responding with an armbar attempt. More work on the ground followed, but it wasn’t enough as the referee stood them up. Back on their feet both fighters began trading blows again, but Roberts’ subsequent shoot was well defended by Alliss, who took control on the ground before going for the ground and pound. All Roberts seemed to be able to do was to hold on and wait for the end of the round.

Round three, and with the fighters clearly looking tired, Alliss once again showed his superior striking ability. Roberts went for a take down, and once again Alliss defended, soon taking Roberts’ back, synching in a rear naked choke which Roberts tapped out to almost immediately. This was an extraordinary fight, with Roberts looking good early on, and Alliss coming back strongly, showing that he’s not just a good striker, but he can work on the ground as well.

In conclusion - having suffered a tremendous blow following the demise of their American partner Elite XC, Cage Rage put on a very enjoyable show. Every fight on the televised card was good, with the Fighting Hurts final probably the fight of the night.

But although the fights were good, the same couldn’t be said of the broadcast itself. While the announcers and the presenters did a good job, some aspects of the show did leave a little to be desired. While the previous shows, held at Wembley Arena, were well put together, there just seems to be something missing from their new venue, The Troxy. The atmosphere there is a lot different, and do we really need Dave O’Donnell or O.J. Borg interviewing drunk punters and fighters who aren’t on the card? I think not. And let’s not forget the technical problems as well.

So in all - good fights, but they need to return to their old production values, as well as returning to a venue like Wembley Arena.