Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Cage Gladiators Clash of the Titans on ITV 4 - TV Review

The latest edition of The Two Sheds Review sees us taking another look at British mixed martial arts promotion Cage Gladiators and their recent Clash of the Titans show, held at the Liverpool Olympia, and broadcast on ITV4 this past Monday night here in Britain.

The broadcast begins with a title fight, with Aidan Marron defended the British Lightweight title against Rob Sinclair. Round one saw the usual feeling out process, looking a little defensive as they looked for an opening. Kicks were exchanged, and nothing really came of them until Sinclair caught Marron’s kick and used it to engage in a clinch, eventually scoring with a big slam. Both fighters began to work from their respective positions, with Marron locking in a tight armbar, which Sinclair rolled to escape from. Marron went for the armbar again, but didn’t get anywhere, with Sinclair coming back with some heavy ground and pound, tying his opponent up as he delivered the blows. The attack soon opened up a bad looking cut on Marron’s forehead, with Sinclair taking Marron’s back and suplexing him down as the round came to an end.

Round two, and having been examined by the doctors, Marron was sent out for battle. Sinclair soon went for another take down, looking to begin the ground and pound again. When he couldn’t get any luck from the front, Sinclair took Marron’s back, and again went for the ground and pound. As Marron moved onto his side, Sinclair went to work with the hammer fists, and with Marron failing to defend himself, the referee stepped in and called a halt to the fight, giving the TKO win to Sinclair. This was a great performance by Sinclair here, who came in with a game plan and executed it perfectly. Marron didn’t stand a chance.

International action followed, with Carl Noon facing Nerijus Mikelatius. This was a blink and you’ll miss it affair. Noon went to work from the off, unleashing with punches and knees, and just thirty two seconds into the fight, Mikelatius’ corner threw in the towel, such was the intensity of Noon’s onslaught. The Lithuanian didn’t stand a chance, with Noon declaring his intention immediately.

More title action follows, with Stefan Struve defending his World Heavyweight title against Mario Netto. Round one, and the height difference between the two fighters was apparent for all to see, with Struve towering over his opponent. It wasn’t long though before the fight went to the ground, Netto going for the ground and pound, and Struve using his long legs to defend himself. Netto countered by going to side control, transitioning to the guard, only to find that Struve was able to easily escape. A half guard from Netto followed, which Struve tried to defend with a rubber guard, but no matter what he did Struve was able to counter. So Netto went back to his original plan with the ground and pound, before taking Struve’s guard. However, by this time it was becoming apparent that Struve’s size was a clear advantage on the ground, as Netto seemed to have trouble with his aim. But then came the disadvantage with long legs, as Netto went for a heel hook which was ultimately unsuccessful. Moments later Struve took Netto’s back, but nothing came of it as the round came to an end.

Round two, and Netto went for the take down straight away, soon taking the half guard. Struve tried to escape, but Netto soon had him back down on the ground again. Netto was transitioning well, and was easily able to get out of Struve’s kimura attempt. But despite the fact that Netto seemed to be doing well, Struve was constantly working, and it wasn’t long before he went for another kimura. When that failed, he simply rolled over, took Netto’s guard, and soon took Netto’s back. After a few strikes Struve locked in an arm triangle. Seconds later Netto tapped, and Struve had retained his title. A very good match between two fighters who knew what they were going, with the big man impressing the hell out of me.

Then it was on to Lee Chadwick against Jay Keiron. This one began quickly. Keiron unleashed with a few good shots until Chadwick locked him up with a clinch against the cage. When nothing came of that, the referee separated them, only for the fighters to engage in another clinch against the opposite side of the cage. Both fighters connected with some knees to the mid-section, and Chadwick took Keiron’s back briefly before they returned to the clinch, with Chadwick taking his man down before trying to move him up against the cage in side control. It wasn’t long before he took Keiron’s back again, and after a few choice shots he synched in the rear naked choke. The choke seemed to be on for ages before Keiron finally tapped. Another very good fight, with Chadwick putting in a great performance.

Next up was the master of the triangle choke Paul Sass taking on Jason Ball. Round one began with both fighters swinging for the trees before it quickly went down to the mat, with Ball dominating with his strikes. Seconds later they stood back up, with Sass going for the immediate takedown, and Ball doing everything he could to defend himself. Sass soon took Ball’s back, but as Ball had a hold of Sass’ right arm to start off with it didn’t really do Sass much good, until he was able to free himself so he could look for a rear naked choke. But Ball showed great defence in countering these attempts. Ball was soon able to roll out, although Sass had control of his arm as at first he went for an armbar, and then went for a kimura. Ball soon escaped, and got in some good ground and pound as the first round came to an end.

Round two began a little slower than the first round. Sass went for Ball’s leg, with Ball countering with the ground and pound. Sass was eating leather as he lay on his back, and Ball was clearly dominating, and even went for a triangle choke, which ultimately failed as Sass went into side control. Sass was clearly sapped, and only threw a few punches which didn’t seem to have any power to them, and he kept up this attack for the remainder of the round.

Round three saw Sass looking for the take down from the off, and his attempts failed as Ball once again went for the ground and pound. But just when it looked as it Ball was going to dominate again, Sass locked in the, yep, you guessed it, the triangle choke. Ball tried to fight it, but it wasn’t long before he was tapping, giving the sixth triangle choke victory in a row for Sass. Sass was disappointing in this one, as Ball dominated throughout.

The third title fight followed, with John Maguire facing Chris Rice with the vacant British Middleweight title on the line. Round one began with the feeling out process, throwing punches and kicks to test the waters before Maguire got the first takedown of the fight, getting into the half guard. Rice tried to roll out, but all this succeeded in doing was giving Maguire his back. Maguire was constantly looking for the rear naked choke, with Rice able to defend by holding on to his opponent’s hands at various times. The tactic worked, and was clearly frustrating Maguire until he went for the choke, although he released it a few seconds later when it wasn’t locked in properly. Realising that he wasn’t going anywhere with this tactic, Maguire rolled into the full mount position, and once again Rice showed some good defensive work.

With our announcers saying that round two was just like round one, it was straight on to round three, which began with Rice going for a take down, grabbing Maguire’s right leg, and eventually scoring with the move, only for Maguire to roll over and take side control, before moving to half guard. In truth it didn’t really make for exciting viewing due to the lack of work, which was probably caused by the fatigue factor. Maguire soon took side control, and it wasn’t long before the referee stood the fighters up because of the inactivity. Seconds later Maguire took Rice down again, and this time both fighters were a little more active, for a while anyway, until the referee stood them up again for inactivity. As the final seconds ticked away Maguire went for another takedown, but the clock beat him.

So with the fight going the three round distance, it was down to the judges to decide as they gave the unanimous decision to Maguire. Hardly the most inspiring fight I’ve ever seen, I have to admit.

The final fight of the show saw David Johnson take on Colum Gillane. A fast beginning saw Johnson connecting with some lighting fast punches and kicks, with Gillane responding in kind. A brief clinch against the cage followed before the fighters began exchanging again, with Johnson soon gaining the upper hand with his combination and knees in the muay thai clinch. Seconds later the fight went to the ground, and Johnson continued his onslaught with the ground and pound, and with Gillane failing to defend himself, the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. After the slight disappointment of the previous fight, this was just what the doctor ordered.

In conclusion - despite the somewhat lacklustre Maguire/Rice fight, Clash of the Titans proved to be another good example of British MMA at it’s best. A really enjoyable fight card with some good performances from the likes of David Johnson, Lee Chadwick and Jason Ball. Good stuff all round, and let’s hope that if future shows are also given the Monday night 11pm slot, more and more British MMA fans will start to catch the Cage Gladiators product.