|09-25-2007, 10:52 PM||#1|
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BK UK's Cage Rage 23 Review
Cage Rage 23 packed out the crowds on Saturday night in an evening usually ended by brutal, raw fisticuffs. Well that?s Saturday night in England and just what the Cage Rage devotees love to see. In a British dominated card, Cage Rage got a chance to show off to its new partners EliteXC and get some British MMA closure.
Gary Turner is proving one of the most popular British fighters right now. As he told BK in our exclusive interview, he is looking for challenges after a stellar K1 and judo career. Saturday he faced up to Julius Francis, the seriously unsuccessful challenger to Mike Tyson in boxing. Francis though, is no MA noob with a career in TKD and some MMA training. He came in confident he could hang with Turner. All 133kgs of him.
Many predicted Francis would be flat on his back in seconds but the fight was close at first. Francis showed some MT training, forcing Turner to take some knees but Turner?s experience began to tell as the round wore on. Turner finally got his man to the mat and after subduing Francis? attempts to stand, proceeded to ground and pound from the mount as the round ended. The second started similar to how the first ended. Francis proved gun-shy and tired, possibly fearing a takedown from which he wouldn?t return. It soon happened. Pinned on his side against the fence, Turner rained down hammerfists. Francis tried for Turner?s legs but to no avail and finally tapped out.
Francis did far better than expected though maybe Turner had an off-day. Gary has skills as proved in his relatively easy handling of Drago at Cage Rage 22. Whether he is ready or wants a title shot, the future will be interesting for him.
Vitor Belfort, The Phenom. All MMA fans know and debate Belfort and his legacy. While some have given up on him, he showed he isn?t finished as a fighter yet against a game James Zikic. Zikic, a British stalwart of many years who drew with Jeremy Horn a few years back, was tentative from the start. The history of Vitor?s left hand is well-known but it was Zikic who finally landed the first worthy blow midway through round one, putting Vitor down for a moment. He recovered immediately and from then on sought the takedown and mat control. He got them with ease throughout the next rounds, consistently worked for position but scored little damage. Zikic managed one reverse but Vitor proved too big, strong and skilled for Zikic. The crowd booed the fight and the decision but it went the right way, to Belfort who became Cage Rage LHW World Champion and continued to beat second tier opponents. Few were impressed by this bout. It was too easy. Belfort, Belfort.....where for art thou going?
The fight of the night should possibly have been at the top of the card. Paul ?Semtex? Daley faced off against British veteran and favourite Mark ?The Wizard? Weir. This was a tough fight to call before the bout. The arena was tense with excitement. Weir is better than his record states, is always in great shape and has dangerous, rangy standup. Daley is also a standup fighter but has added some serious takedown and ground and pound skills.
The fight was cagey in the first. Weir stayed on the outside working off his long reach while Daley knew he had to get inside to work. He managed it once, muscling Weir to the ground but Weir worked superbly to get back to his feet. Daley found his range in the second, closing the gap and forcing Weir to eat leather. As Daley stepped up the hunt, Weir was felled by two brutal left hooks. The crowd roared and Daley jumped all over Weir, pounding him until Weir was saved by the referee.
This was an excellent performance by Daley following on from his demolition of Duane Ludwig earlier this year. He followed his gameplan, kept calm and took his opportunity. Hopefully Cage Rage/EliteXC can bring in a top 10 fighter for him next.
Brennan is an old hand at MMA. An excellent submission artist who has choked out present UFC starlet Joe Stevenson, he showed some smooth BJJ transitions in his battle with Jean ?The White Bear? Silva, himself a BJJ black belt. The crowd was muted at first for Brennan but soon warmed to 'The Westside Strangler' as he and Silva threw the leather and knees during round one. Silva always looked the more dynamic, no surprise for a capoeira stylist and landed the more effective standup, particularly knees. Round 2 was dramatic. After eating two big knees, Brennan dropped to the mat. Silva came in for the kill but to his surprise, was almost immediately feeling a kimura from Brennan who then transitioned beautifully to an armbar from his back. Silva utilized all his experience and strength to slip out. Brennan inevidently doesn?t know when to quit but Silva rained down blow after blow from guard until the referee saved him.
The first fight on the TV card was the heavyweight title match up between Tengiz Tedoradze, the Georgian Cage Rage HW champion now resident in Barnsley, North England and London?s Mustafa Al-Turk. With his excellent Sambo skills and the improved standup he showed against Butterbean, Tedoradze started as favourite but it was Al-Turk who pushed the first round with low kicks and securing an all-too-easy takedown. Tedoradze looked in some trouble as he gave up his back and almost succumbed to a RNC but Al-Turk couldn?t hold it.
Both men were tired after a tough round 1 and Tengiz began to get into the fight. Round 2 and 3 followed the same pattern; Tengiz got his range better and started to control the fight on the mat. Al-Turk defended well and continued his solid standup until the final bell. Tedoradze got the split decision. It was close and the vocal crowd booed. Al-Turk frustrated the champion throughout. For a man who lost the first two fights of his career, he has come a long way.
The most clinical knockout came from Frenchman Xavier Foupa-Pokam over Pierre Guillet. Guillet?s liver might still be tickling him after a perfect body kick from Foupa-Pokam dropped Guillet to the mat and ended the fight. Vicky Fatten would have been proud! Foupa-Pokam reminds you of another tall, rangy fighter who is doing rather well right now. That Maths teacher might remember him.....
Alex Reid might be better working on his game than his catchphrases. The ?likeable? Reid faced off with Matt Ewin, a rematch from 2002. Reid won then but Ewin insisted Reid was greased up a la Akiyama which stuffed his takedowns. It couldn?t be more different here. Reid was taken down repeatedly and easily. He couldn?t get out from under Ewin who methodically worked his limited ground-and-pound. Each round was as predicable as the decision.
How times have changed for Neil Grove. A last minute replacement for a replacement at Cage Rage 22 where he cut down The Colossus James Thompson in 10 seconds. On Saturday he took down K1 fighter Dominic Ostojic with a body lock and pounded him out in 34 painful seconds. With his size and the skills we have seen so far, he will be a challenge for anyone.
Further down the card Roman Webber won a solid decision over a competitive Tom Watson. Che Mills looks a talent and handled kickboxer Ross Mason with ease, winning by TKO a little over 2 minutes into round one. And the card opened with a kickboxing battle with Lee Doski throwing some nice stuff to win a good decision over Jason Barrett.
This was a brutal card, full of aggression and some dominant victories. It was a British heavy card and the lack of submissions was evident of that. The Brits like to see knockouts and they got them. But with access to some international fighters as EliteXC opens some doors, the Brits may have to raise their rounded games.
Jared Shaw, son of Gary in an interview on the big screen was keen to stress Cage Rage will remain a British show run by Andy and Dave and its financial future is secure. Shaw is looking for entertainment, entertaining fights and brave fighters. His record in boxing is mixed for some and it remains to see what influence he will have. Some changes are inevitable and welcome. The range and quality of fighters should rise. Some British fighters may now have to prove their worth on the feeder Cage Rage Contenders show but in the long run this should benefit the British scene. Production should also become slicker and promotion more refined. The Brits should look forward it. We know the ring girls won?t change.
**Sorry for the late posting of this report. Seriously unforeseen circumstances!**
Last edited by DCBooks : 09-29-2007 at 03:22 AM.