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Cage Rage 7: The Battle Of Britain review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on February 26, 2007, 7:52 AM

Currently the leading MMA promotion in the UK, and arguably in Europe too, Cage Rage has been running shows out of London since 2002. Originally using mainly homegrown talent, since 2004 Cage Rage has grown immeasurably, moving from smaller venues first into the Wembley Conference Centre, to the Wembley Indoor Arena, and now to the larger Earl’s Court venue, and each card now regularly features a plethora of international talent, including a number of UFC and Pride veterans. Cage Rage 7 was the first card to really mark this growth, as it was the first show to be held in the Wembley Conference Centre, and also featured UFC veteran Jorge Rivera in the main event. Fittingly, it was also Cage Rage’s first mainstream DVD release.

Cage Rage 7: The Battle Of Britain

London, England

-Your hosts are Malcolm Martin and Rob Nutley, and compared to some commentators on these smaller shows, they’re pretty damn good.

-Before we begin, just some notes about Cage Rage’s rules – at this point they were practically identical to UFC rules – three five minute rounds, and elbows were legal, and kicks/knees/stomps to a grounded opponent were not. The rules ended up being modified, but we’ll talk about that when we get to those shows.

Featherweight Fight: Dave Elliot vs Philly San

Bear in mind I know very, very little about the lower-card guys on these shows, and the DVD doesn’t give much background or insight into them either, so sorry about that. Elliot’s nickname is ‘Speedy’ though, and the commentators are thinking that he’ll want to get this to the ground quickly, as San’s a better stand-up fighter.

They begin and San lands a low kick, but Elliot closes in, getting a takedown and easily avoiding a guillotine attempt. He passes right into mount, and San gives his back, so Elliot gets both hooks in, and slaps on a textbook armbar as San tries to roll free. Went all of 30 seconds, so pretty much exactly as advertised, as Elliot lived up to his nickname.

Middleweight Fight: Paul Daley vs Xavier Foupa-Pokam

Daley is currently one of the UK’s fastest rising stars, sporting an impressive record of 12-5-2, with most of his wins coming after he dropped to Welterweight. He’s also got one of the coolest nicknames in MMA – ‘Semtex’ – a reference to his explosive stand-up. Xavier Foupa-Pokam – AKA ‘Professor X’ – is a French fighter out of Cyrille Diabete’s Team Snake, which from what I’ve seen of them, is basically a collection of tall, rangy strikers who fight like a poor man’s Anderson Silva. He actually put on one of the better fights of 2006, as it goes, against Ryuta Sakurai in the Japanese DEEP promotion.

They begin and Xavier looks to land knees as they both trade punches, and sure enough he closes in with a couple of knees that stun Daley momentarily. Paul tries a takedown, but Xavier avoids and lands a couple of knees and punches, that Daley answers with a left hook. Xavier comes in with a couple more knees and then backs away, so Daley leaps forward with a superman elbow (!) and they trade, throwing shots at one another until Daley catches him with a big left hook to put him on queer street and the ref steps in there.

Pretty short and explosive fight there. The striking wasn’t bad at all, and it looked like Xavier had the upper hand, but once he got drawn into an outright trade Daley’s power took over and he was able to finish with one big shot.

Welterweight Fight: Rick Andrews vs Jeremy Bailey

Don’t know much about Andrews I’m afraid, but Bailey is Cage Rage’s resident ‘Bad Boy’, a controversial, cocky trash-talker whose persona attracts more attention than his fights really. I’d be hard pressed not to mention his hairstyle too, which makes him look somewhat like the Lister character from Red Dwarf.

Andrews closes in swinging wild to open, but Bailey lands a knee and grabs a guillotine. He pulls half-guard, but Andrews works his way free and lands some big punches down onto his opponent. Bailey kicks him away, but Andrews tries to pass the legs, and then Bailey grabs one of Andrews’ legs and they go into a really weird position that’s hard to describe, as Bailey seemingly looks to work for an ankle lock. Andrews finally manages to reverse to Bailey’s guard, and passes into mount, but suddenly the official calls time to replace Bailey’s mouthpiece. Huh? Why not wait until they were in a neutral position? At any rate, they restart standing, and Andrews comes in swinging again, going into a clinch where Bailey lifts him up for a BIG SLAM, but Andrews catches him in a guillotine ala Brandon Vera vs. Assuerio Silva, and gets full guard as they hit the mat, and Bailey ends up tapping out there.

Nice finish to what was generally an uneventful fight; it wasn’t bad or anything by any means, but it was just, well, just a fight if you know what I mean.

Cage Rage Welterweight Title: Paul Jenkins vs Ronaldo Campos

Jenkins is one of the more well-known fighters on the British circuit, a true journeyman fighter who has been known to fight multiple times inside a month, and he currently sports a record of 34-29-5. Here, he was dropping down from the Middleweight division to attempt to capture Campos’s Welterweight Title, and also stop the Brazilian’s run of three straight submission wins in Cage Rage.

They circle and jab tentatively to begin, before Campos gets a clinch and looks for a takedown. Jenkins blocks, but gives his back standing and Campos tries to get him down that way. Jenkins turns, so Campos tries a standing arm triangle, and it looks tight for a moment, as Campos jumps to guard, but Jenkins works his way free and stands back up. Campos shoots in again and secures double underhooks, working around to a rear waistlock, where he pulls Jenkins down and gets a full mount. Jenkins reverses though and gets on top in Campos’s guard, but the official stands them up and gives Jenkins a warning for holding the fence, apparently he was using it to block the takedown, although I didn’t spot it. They restart and exchange some punches to end the round.

Into the 2nd, and Campos closes the distance swiftly, getting a takedown, but Jenkins uses a guillotine to reverse the position and gets on top as Campos looks to mount. They end up in Campos’s half-guard, and Jenkins works the body. He looks to pass, but Campos reverses up and now gets his own takedown to guard. Jenkins tries a kimura, but Campos avoids it and passes into side mount, but he misses on a straight armbar attempt and Jenkins gets on top in Ronaldo’s guard, avoiding a couple of submission attempts and landing some shots to close the round out.

Third and final round, then, and Jenkins lands a left hand to open, so Campos grabs a clinch and pulls guard. He tries to grab a leg, but Jenkins pulls out and stands, so Campos comes back with another takedown and gets a back mount against the cage with a body triangle locked in. Jenkins defends well though, and things get so inactive that the official actually stands them back up. Normally I frown on that but Campos was legitimately doing nothing there. They restart standing, and this time Jenkins scores, dropping Campos with a pair of hard left hooks to the body. Campos goes into the butt-scoot position, but Jenkins refuses to engage and Campos is forced back up, where Jenkins lands another one-two to the body to drop him. This time the referee steps in and calls the fight.

Post-fight Ronaldo is pissed off, claiming he wasn’t hurt by the shots and was trying to bring Jenkins down into his guard. The replays seem to suggest similar too, but hey, it’s the referee’s call and he shouldn’t be flopping down as if he’s hurt. Pretty slow-paced fight for the most part, but there were some nice positional exchanges in there too.

Middleweight Fight: Jean Francois Lenogue vs Damien Riccio

This is apparently the first time ever that two Frenchmen have fought one another in an English MMA promotion. Lenogue is another one of those rangy, primarily Muay Thai strikers ala the guys from Team Snake and also Cheick Kongo for that matter, while Riccio is quite well-known, mainly for his streetfighting exploits and also for his feud with the Gracie family, stemming from an unsanctioned Vale Tudo win he has over Robin Gracie. I’ve actually seen that fight and it’s nothing like I was expecting. Big reach advantage for Lenogue here.

Riccio comes forward swinging some big hooks to open, but Lenogue lands some jabs and low kicks from distance, so Damien gets a clinch and forces him into the fence. He starts to land some Ruas-style foot stomps, as they muscle across the fence for position, not much going on to be fair. The official finally breaks them up after a couple of minutes of this, and Lenogue lands some more jabs and low kicks from distance on the restart, but Riccio clinches again and muscles him back to end the round. Very uneventful one, too.

Into the 2nd, and Lenogue uses his reach to tag Riccio with shots in a trade, so Riccio shoots into a clinch again. Lenogue blocks an attempted leg trip, and then stuns him with a big knee, before following with a series of NASTY knees in a Thai clinch! Riccio somehow survives the onslaught and manages to shove Lenogue into the fence, but the official stops to check a cut, it looks like Damien’s got a bloody nose, so they give him the all clear to continue. Lenogue lands some punches off the restart, but Riccio forces him into the fence again. Bad move as Lenogue lands some more knees to the body and the head as they muscle for position. Lenogue breaks, and starts to tee off with a combo, but Riccio uses a front kick to push him away and create some distance. Damien comes forward with a one-two of his own into a clinch, and they muscle for position where Lenogue lands some knees to the thighs, and this leads to another series of vicious knees to the head to end the round.

Third and final round, and Lenogue is using his reach to pick Riccio apart now, hitting him with jabs and crosses as well as some low kicks. He lands some more inside knees to go into the clinch, where Riccio tries a leg trip, but Lenogue blocks it again. Riccio looks pretty bloody at this point as Lenogue lands knees to the legs and the body, and then closes the fight out with a combo of punches.

To the judges for the first time in the night, where Lenogue picks up the unanimous decision. Riccio came in with the big reputation, but he just couldn’t deal with the reach disadvantage he was at, and it seemed like all he brought was a rock hard chin and a lack of a solid gameplan. For his part, Lenogue fought like another Cheick Kongo clone, showing off a nice range of knees, kicks and punches, especially inside with the knees. Good showing from him.

Lightweight Fight: Robbie Oliver vs Samy Schiavo

Oliver has since dropped to the Featherweight division where I believe he’s the current British Featherweight Title holder. Schiavo is another French fighter, but he’s more of a grappler from what I know of him rather than a Thai-based guy.

Schiavo rushes right in and decks Robbie with an overhand right, but as he closes in Oliver manages to get full guard, recovering really quickly. He blocks a guard pass attempt, and then reverses and gets on top himself in half-guard. Oliver passes quickly to the mount, and then takes Schiavo’s back. The Frenchman stands up, but Oliver slaps on a rear naked choke and pulls him down, getting the tapout in just over two minutes.

Short and exciting fight for the time it lasted. Oliver’s recovery from the first punch was especially impressive, although it may have simply been a flash knockdown more than anything else.

Featherweight Fight: Emmanuel Fernandez vs Leigh Remedios

The announcers are explaining that Remedios really needs to rebuild himself following his knockout loss to Jean Silva, so he’s back down at Featherweight to try his luck there. Fernandez is another French fighter, a lot of them on this card actually. He’s known as ‘Pythagoras’ due to his fondness for the triangle choke, and sure enough at this point he was 4-0 with all his wins coming from the triangle.

Remedios closes the distance to open, and gets a clinch, tossing Fernandez to the mat. Fernandez pops right back up though, and gets his own takedown to half-guard. He looks to pass, but Leigh reverses to his feet and then gets a takedown of his own, but Fernandez uses a butterfly guard to get to his feet and then trips Remedios down, reversing position again. Remedios immediately brings his legs up for an armbar, then transitions into an oma plata. Fernandez looks in trouble for a second, but then he manages to spin out and get back to guard. Remedios stands, and they come back up and circle, where Fernandez has a high kick attempt blocked. Fernandez gets another takedown to half-guard, but Leigh gets butterfly hooks in and then gets full guard, pulling his legs up to look for a triangle. Fernandez stands, and takes an upkick before Remedios joins him on the feet, blocking a takedown to end the round.

They circle to open the 2nd and Remedios muscles him into the fence, but Fernandez gets a guillotine choke and pulls guard. Remedios works his way out, only for Fernandez to go right into a triangle/armbar combination. Remedios again manages to free himself, but Fernandez goes right back to it, and this time it looks tighter, with Remedios being forced to slam his way free. He works to pass the guard, but Fernandez reverses to standing in a clinch. Remedios works to block a takedown attempt, and they continue to muscle for position before Fernandez tries a guillotine again to end the round.

Into the third, and Remedios blocks a high kick to open, and they go into the clinch where Fernandez trips him down, but Remedios reverses and gets on top in guard. Remedios avoids an armbar attempt, but Fernandez goes for a sweep and they end up standing. They go into a clinch along the fence and muscle for position, before Fernandez breaks and rocks him with a combo! Remedios gets a takedown, but Fernandez grabs a guillotine and really tries to finish with it, but Remedios survives so Fernandez lets go. He keeps an active guard, though, not allowing Remedios to do a thing and pretty much controlling the action, before Remedios stands to end.

Leigh looks disappointed as we go to the judges, and sure enough, the decision goes to Fernandez. Really flat performance from Remedios who seemed to tire out quickly while Fernandez got better as the fight went on, showing nice grappling and positioning throughout, even controlling the action from the bottom in the third. Definitely an impressive showing from him.

Middleweight Fight: Matt Ewin vs Jess Liaudin

Ewin trains with Mark Weir at the Range Fighting camp, while Liaudin is another French journeyman type who’s fought all over the place.

They press to open, with Liaudin missing an attempted wheel kick. They go into a clinch and Ewin looks for a takedown, slamming Liaudin down to guard. He avoids a kimura from the bottom and looks to work for some ground-and-pound, but Liaudin locks on an oma plata and sits right up with it, and it looks for a moment like it’ll be over, but Ewin manages to slip free somehow back into Liaudin’s guard. He works the body and the head before Liaudin manages to stand, but Ewin slams him right back down. This time he gets into side mount, but before he can do any damage, Liaudin gets guard back, and continues to look for a kimura as the round ends.

Liaudin comes forward to open the 2nd, throwing a kick, but Ewin catches it and gets another slam to guard. He controls the Frenchman from the top, landing some shots, and then as he moves him to the fence, he begins to land some nice punches from the guard before passing into side mount, but as he does the referee steps in, and they check Liaudin over before stopping it, apparently Jess has a broken nose and can’t breathe.

Pretty pedestrian fight there for the most part, Ewin controlled well from the top but didn’t do all that much damage until the fight was stopped really.

Cage Rage Lightweight Title: Jean Silva vs Oliver Ellis

Jean ‘White Bear’ Silva, fighting out of the Chute Boxe camp, is one of my favourite Cage Rage fighters, thanks to his exciting mix of Capoeira striking and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. At this point he was coming off two big wins, over UFC veterans Leigh Remedios and Gerald Strebendt, and the announcers mention that he’s desperate to be noticed by one of the bigger promotions, likely UFC. He’s got his hair dyed in the style of the Brazilian flag here, which is really cool. Ellis is pretty much an unknown, not sure whether he took the fight on short notice or something, and the announcers mention that it’ll be a huge, huge upset if he can defeat Silva here and take the title.

Ellis catches a kick right away to open and gets a takedown, looking to take Jean’s back right off the bat. Silva tries a kimura from the bottom, defending the back, and then gets a reversal, ending up on top in Ellis’s guard. Ellis stays active from the bottom, looking to prep some submissions but never really threatening, while Silva controls from the top, not landing much in the way of ground-and-pound, but clearly in no danger either. Pretty uneventful round actually as both fighters negate the other one.

Into the 2nd, and Silva misses an attempted wheel kick, into the clinch where Ellis pulls guard. Silva goes into half-guard momentarily, but Ellis defends and gets back to full guard. Silva passes once more, but this time Ellis gets a nice sweep and ends up on top in Silva’s guard. Ellis actually lands some strikes from the top, making Silva uncomfortable, but suddenly the champ throws up his legs and gets a triangle armbar! Ellis looks in trouble, but then manages to escape, and then Silva gets a warning for an upkick to the head from the bottom while Ellis has three points down. They continue to exchange in Silva’s guard to end the round.

Third and final round, and once again Ellis catches a kick and gets the takedown, but this time Silva looks to work for a leglock. He uses the attempt to reverse position, getting on top in Ellis’s guard, and then falls back and goes for a heel hook. Ellis manages to avoid well, and then tries a heel hook of his own, and they duel with leglock attempts for a while before Silva scrambles out and gets on top in Ellis’s guard. Finally he stands up and attempts a cartwheel pass, and then a leaping guard pass to end the fight.

Announcers are struggling to pick a winner but think that Ellis might’ve taken it, but the judges make it a majority draw, and Silva holds onto his title. Pretty fair result there I think – neither guy did much in the way of true offense, and if anything Silva was more aggressive despite Ellis probably coming out on top in the “control” department. As we’ll see in later Cage Rage shows, especially in title fights the challenger really needs to *beat* the champion in order to take the title, and Ellis certainly didn’t do that here, even if it was an impressive performance from an unheralded fighter. As for Silva, he’s certainly had better fights than this, and this was somewhat of an uninspired performance from him.

Cage Rage Light-Heavyweight Title: Michael Bisping vs Mark Epstein

‘The Count’ Bisping was a relative unknown here, sporting a 2-0 record although the announcers mention his extensive kickboxing record, and the fact that he still holds the WAKO Heavyweight title in kickboxing. Epstein – a training partner of Lee Murray’s – was the titleholder here though, having dropped down from the HW division to take the belt. Announcers are expecting a slugfest.

We’re underway and Bisping opens with an explosive combination of punches and kicks, stunning Epstein before they go into a trade, and Epstein comes back, catching Bisping with a right hook that drops him to one knee! Bisping comes up and clinches, and they muscle for position before Epstein breaks with an uppercut. Bisping closes in with a one-two, but Epstein catches him with a leg sweep and drops him to his back in guard. Bisping stays active from the bottom, not allowing Epstein a chance to work the ground-and-pound, and constantly looks for submission attempts. Epstein tries to strike from inside the guard, but can’t get anything major off, and the two men continue to exchange short punches on the ground until the round ends.

Between rounds Epstein’s sporting a HUGE mouse on his left eye, like a golf ball under the skin, looks quite nasty.

They begin the 2nd and Bisping OPENS UP and tags Epstein with a flurry, before tossing him down to the mat. Epstein comes back up, and Bisping just GOES TO TOWN, hitting him with absolutely everything in his arsenal, punch after punch after punch, as well as some knees, while Epstein flails, trying to come back somehow. Bisping keeps nailing him and I have no idea how Epstein’s still standing at this point, and finally the Count backs him into the fence and hits him a few more times, ending with a big knee, and the ref’s seen enough and steps in there.

Great performance from Bisping for the most part – I remember seeing this back in late 2004 and becoming a fan of his from there onwards, so it’s nice to see a guy who I’ve followed for a while make it to the UFC and gain some stardom. The aspect I’ve always admired about Bisping the most though is his complete viciousness, and that was definitely shown in this fight, as he just kept pouring it on in the 2nd round, and was absolutely unrelenting, despite Epstein showing a solid chin and refusing to go down. I’d say he’s improved a lot since this fight – his striking’s got a lot more crisp and I think his takedown defense is better too – but still, this was an excellent fight seeing as it was only his third in MMA.

Middleweight Fight: Jorge Rivera vs Mark Weir

Two UFC veterans then in the big main event of the night. Ironically, Rivera was actually coming off a loss to another British fighter in Lee Murray in his last UFC appearance, while Weir’s final UFC fight saw him knocked out by David Loiseau – the guy who Rivera defeated in his UFC debut. Announcers mention that Murray tapped Rivera in just under two minutes, and Weir – with his history of quick finishes – will want to top that here.

They begin and sure enough, Weir comes out like a house on fire, nailing Rivera with a left high kick and then opening up with a ridiculously quick flurry as Rivera covers up! Rivera finally grabs a leg to stop the onslaught, but Weir sprawls back and then grabs a guillotine and jumps to guard. Rivera pops out quickly, shoving Weir into the fence and landing a couple of shots, including an illegal knee as Weir gets to his feet. The official warns Rivera for that, and then they restart, with Rivera clinching, taking a knee but getting the takedown to guard. From there he lands a couple of heavy shots, standing up for good measure before dropping them. He continues to work Weir over, before the Englishman gets a reversal and gets his own takedown to guard. Rivera tries an interesting full nelson sweep from the bottom, but Weir blocks, only for Rivera to reverse him over anyway as he tries to land some shots. Now Rivera starts to land again, cutting Weir open on the bridge of the nose, before using a cartwheel pass to get to side mount just as the round ends.

As they come up for the break though, it becomes apparent that Weir’s right eye is swollen completely shut, and the doctor stops things there. Pretty disappointing actually as that was shaping up to be a nice, competitive fight. Rivera was in control though I feel, as Weir seemingly blew his load in the opening seconds and Jorge was able to survive and then took over as the fight went on.

-The announcers wrap the night’s action up and then the show comes to an end there.

Final Thoughts....

This show serves as a nice introduction to Cage Rage, and although it’s not full of the international stars that are on the later shows from the promotion, top to bottom it’s still pretty solid for a non-UFC/Pride show. There are a couple of slow fights – Remedios/Fernandez gets tedious in parts, as does Jenkins/Campos – but for the most part everything’s watchable enough, and the Bisping fight is an especially interesting one. Main event got cut short before it really had a chance to get good, but that’s not a big deal really. If you’re looking for the big international stars and the more stacked cards, go for one of the later (post-12) shows, but if you want a good introduction to the company before those days, this is a good starter. Recommended.

Coming Soon....

Pride: 18.
UFC: 23, 24, 26, 62, 63, 64 and 65.
Cage Rage: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18.
WEC: 10 and 11.
WFA: 1, 2 and 3.
King of the Cage: 15, 18, 21, 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42 and 48.
Best of Shooto 2003 vols. 1 & 2.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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