Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Cage Rage 14: The Punishment on Extreme Sports - TV Review

This past Saturday night Britain’s Extreme Sports Channel once again delved into the Cage Rage archive, going back to March 2005 and the Wembley Conference Centre, as current UFC great Anderson Silva defended his World Middleweight title against Curtis Stout at Cage Rage 14: The Punishment.

Hour one began with action from the middleweight division, with Daijiro Matsui taking on Alex Reid. The announcers described this one perfectly - trench warfare. This was an outstanding fight that was fought at a frantic pace throughout. By the end of the first round both men looked like they’d been in a war, with Reid suffering from two cuts to the face and Matsui’s right eye closed completely. Matsui seemed to be the most aggressive in the first two rounds, with Reid coming on strongly in the latter half of the third, getting off some good shots after the referee stood both men up, and even though the man from Japan seemed to be the superior fighter, the judges saw it differently, scoring it as a majority draw, meaning that one judge gave the fight to one of the fighters. Matsui didn’t look to happy with the decision.

Then it was up to the light heavyweight division, with Brian Adams facing Mark Epstein. A blink and you’ll miss it affair. Both men started by trading kicks, then just nineteen seconds in both men went down to the mat, with a left from Epstein knocking Adams out. The referee stepped in immediately, giving Epstein the knockout win. Explosive stuff from Epstein.

Down to welterweight for the next fight, with Darren Guisha and Ross “The Boss” Mason. A good performance from Mason saw him control the majority of the first round, looking like he was going to get the win with the ground and pound, only for the bell to save Guisha. It was the same in the second round, with Mason dominating again, and the referee stepping in as the Boss went to work with the ground and pound again. Guisha was simply outclassed by the superior fighter.

The big guys of the heavyweight division were next, with Marc Goddard and Robert “Buzz” Berry. Slightly more than a blink and you’ll miss it affair here, with Berry locking in the guillotine choke after just sixty seconds, even though the announcers didn’t think he’d be able to get it from a standing position. Just goes to show that they don’t know everything, doesn’t it!

Hour two began in the middleweight division, with Antonio Schembri going up against Matt Lindland. This was a very technically sound fight. Lindland showed some tremendous ground work, with Schembri on the defensive almost throughout. The Brazilian’s defence finally let him down in the third round as Lindland unleashed with the ground and pound, with the referee wisely calling a halt to proceedings. Terrific stuff from Lindland here, very enjoyable to watch.

The middleweight action continued with Xavier Foupa-Pokam facing Sol Gilbert. A fast paced and somewhat controversial fight. Both men looked good as they racked off the blows, but with Gilbert on all fours Xavier unleashed with a kick to the head, earning himself an immediate disqualification. A pity this one ended in this way, because this fight had promise.

Then it was down to the welterweight division for the next bout, with Nigel Whitear and Dean Bray. A fast start saw both men trading earlier, before it quickly went to the ground. Some excellent work from both men followed, with reversal following reversal, with Whitear locking in an armbar for the submission victory. If only all fights were as good as this!

The hour concluded with a Pride Bushido lightweight challenge match, pitting Michihiro Omigawa against Gesias Cavalcanti. Both fighters looked in good shape at the beginning, only for Cavalcanti to unload with a big right hand that rocked Omigawa. As the Japanese star wilted, Cavalcanti went in for the kill, with the referee stepping in, giving Cavalcanti the knockout and impressive win.

Hour three began with heavyweight action, and Alan Murdock tackling Dave Legeno. A fast start saw Legeno unloading with the heavy stuff early on, and the announcers predicting that this would end with a knockout. Murdock kept coming back, despite Legeno’s onslaught. Legeno’s pace soon caught up with him as he visibly tired. The fight soon went to the ground as Murdock fell to one of Legeno’s powerful shots, and the referee soon stopped the action as Murdock applied an armbar, and Legeno refused to tapped. A very enjoyable fight, although Legeno’s lack of experience clearly showed at the end.

Back down to the welterweight division for the next fight, with Joey Van Wanrooij and Paul “Semtex” Daley. This is the kind of fight that makes you realise just how great it is to be a mixed martial arts fan, a back and forth encounter with two good performances, and a little controversy when Van Wanrooij went for an illegal kick while Daley was on the ground, the kick being illegal because the referee hadn’t called for an open guard. However, unlike Xavier Foupa-Pokam earlier on, Van Wanrooij wasn’t disqualified because it didn’t look like he connected. Instead he got a stern warning from the referee. Apart from that little incident, this was a great contest, and with the fight going the distance, it went down to the judges, who gave the unanimous decision to Daley. A shame that the Dutchman didn’t get much from the judges though.

Main event time, with Curtis Stout challenging Anderson Silva for the Cage Rage Middleweight title. This was the one I was really looking forward to. A fight that began quickly with some blows from both men soon went down to the ground, where Silva showed some good work before Stout was able to get back to his feet. It wasn’t long before they went back down, and Silva showed the skills that have made him a world class fighter. A short time later, Silva went to work with the ground and pound. Stout failed to reply, and it wasn’t long before the referee stopped the fight, giving Silva the knockout win. A very impressive performance from the Brazilian here, really enjoyable.

In conclusion - I only really began to pay attention to Cage Rage with their sixteenth show, so when I found that Extreme Sports were showing their fourteenth show in one go, I just knew I had to see it. It was great to take a look back at the history of this sadly now-defunct promotion, and there were some great fights throughout this broadcast, topped off with just a little bit of controversy.

However, I am slightly disappointed that a few of the fights were cut from the broadcast, most notably the British Featherweight title fight between Robbie Oliver and Chris Freeborn, and the wins for Vitor Belfort and Mark Weir. But in all, a very good show, and I look forward to dipping into the Cage Rage archive again in the future.

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