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Cage Rage 8: Knights Of The Octagon review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on February 26, 2007, 7:53 AM

Cage Rage 8: Knights Of The Octagon

London, England

-Your announcers are Malcolm Martin and Rob Nutley....and your host for the evening is British TV personality/rapper/Will Smith wannabe Richard Blackwood, who gets booed out of the building as he tries to open the show with a promo in the Octagon.

-They show us a video hyping the main event of Lee Murray vs. Anderson Silva, with some highlights of both men including Murray sparking Amir Rahnavardi in four seconds. Murray gives us the classic line about Jorge Rivera, saying he “shot in for the takedown from the changing rooms”, and then we see the weigh-in fracas between the two men. Cool stuff.

Cage Rage Featherweight Title: Pete Tiarks vs Ian Butlin

No clue why they’d be opening a show with a title match, that’s for sure. Anyhow, Tiarks had held the title since Cage Rage 4, and Butlin was looking to unseat him and capture the belt.

Round 1 begins and Butlin swings his way into a clinch, where they exchange knees. They muscle for position, and Tiarks gets a takedown to guard, where Butlin immediately brings his legs up, looking to go for a submission. Tiarks drops some punches though, and then they come back to their feet, with Tiarks attempting to take Butlin’s back as he stands. Butlin avoids though and they go into a clinch, where Butlin gets a big takedown to side mount. Tiarks tries a variant of the arm triangle choke from the bottom, but Butlin avoids and ends up inside the champ’s guard. Things slow down and referee Grant Waterman stands them back up, and Butlin lands a flurry, grabbing a front facelock to follow, but Tiarks reverses and pulls guard, attempting a guillotine choke. Butlin works his way free though, and avoids a triangle from the bottom, catching Tiarks with a good shot from the top. Round ends with Tiarks attempting the triangle again.

Into the 2nd round, and they trade into a clinch again to begin, exchanging knees with both men looking for the takedown, but Tiarks lands a couple of especially hard knees to the midsection, and then trips him down into a side mount. Tiarks lands some forearms from the position, looking completely in control for a while, until Butlin manages to reverse position, gaining a side mount of his own. Tiarks works into full guard, though, and Butlin is reduced to working the body with some chopping shots, continuing to work from the top to end the round.

Third and final round then, and they clinch right away, where Butlin gets a takedown to half-guard. Tiarks gets full guard again, as Butlin moves him towards the fence, obviously knowing he needs to do something to sway the judges his way. Butlin tries some ground-and-pound, but Tiarks works a triangle from the bottom, and ends up catching Butlin in it nicely for the tapout, to retain the title.

Not a bad fight at all, actually. The Cage Rage title histories are a bit convoluted, so it gets confusing after this show when Tiarks and the title disappear, only for the belt to return in a later show, but from what I can gather Tiarks retired from MMA following this fight, and the belt got held up until the promotion felt the need to bring it back. Don’t know what made Tiarks retire, either – he looked pretty talented here.

Middleweight Fight: James Nicholl vs Suley Mahmoud

James Nicholl – or James Evans-Nicholl as he’s billed on the DVD (you normally see it written strangely as ‘E-Nicholl’) was making his Cage Rage debut here and the announcers are mentioning that he’s one of the UK’s top talents at Middleweight. Mahmoud, from what I know of him, is a training partner of Lee Murray’s at London Shootfighters, and is best known for two controversial draws with Paul Jenkins in Cage Rage Middleweight Title bouts.

They exchange jabs and low kicks to open, before going into a clinch, where they muscle for position, but Nicholl takes a knee to the groin so the official calls the break. They restart, and exchange, before Mahmoud shoots in, but Nicholl sprawls and gets on top in half-guard. Nicholl controls him well from the top, landing some punches and even some shoulder strikes, looking to pass the guard. Some nice forearms land from Nicholl and he works into side mount, now looking for the full mount as Mahmoud blocks, taking forearms to the face in the process. Mahmoud manages to work back to half-guard, but continues to take forearms as the round ends. Impressive round there from Nicholl.

They clinch to open the 2nd, and exchange some knees before Nicholl gets a trip down straight into side mount. He continues where he left off in the first, working some grinding forearms to the face and adding some knees to the body, as Mahmoud desperately tries to block his attempts at a Matt Hughes-style crucifix. Just as Nicholl begins to look really dominant, Mahmoud manages to get a reversal to his feet, and then gets his own double leg to guard, working the body and the head as Nicholl uses his feet to avoid being pinned to the fence. Nicholl works his way back to his feet inside a clinch, and then opens up with some knees, landing two big ones to the body to stun him, before catching Mahmoud right on the chin with a third, dropping him for the knockout right on the buzzer to end the round!

Outside of the one period of offense in the 2nd, that was a total whitewash for Nicholl, who looked really impressive with his ground control. Nice knees to finish too – replays show that Mahmoud pretty much doubled over following the second knee to the ribs, setting up the one to the face perfectly.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Mark Epstein vs Silvio de Souza

Epstein was looking to rebuild following his loss of the LHW Title to Michael Bisping on the last show by disposing of Brazilian fighter de Souza here, and that’s about all I know I’m afraid – never heard of the Brazilian before.

Round 1 gets started, and they circle tentatively to open, exchanging some punches, which Epstein gets the better of. De Souza decides to change his tactics and clinches, getting a takedown to side mount, but Epstein quickly gets a half-guard, and ties the Brazilian up from the bottom, before reversing over to top position inside de Souza’s guard. Epstein avoids a kimura, and controls well from the top, landing some short punches, but it’s largely inactive, and after a while the official stands them, but de Souza immediately gets another clinch and takedown to half-guard to end.

Epstein opens the 2nd with some hard left jabs, so de Souza predictably shoots in and gets a takedown to half-guard. Epstein ties him up right away, clearly looking to stall for the stand-up, and it works, as Waterman calls them to their feet quickly. Epstein lands a couple of combinations standing, but it’s another takedown from de Souza, and Epstein ties him up again. The action gets really slow as de Souza moves him to the fence, landing some forearms, but it’s largely inactive and they come to their feet on the buzzer.

Third and final round, and it’s more of the same, with Epstein looking to strike but de Souza getting a takedown to half-guard. He looks to pass this time, but Epstein reverses from the bottom and ends up in de Souza’s guard, where he works the body with some particularly vicious punches, and grinds away with the forearms to the head. It’s slow, but Epstein does enough work from the top to keep the position, and then he stands up, before dropping back down to half-guard and really opening up, battering the Brazilian’s head and body with punches to end out the fight.

To the judges, and it’s a majority decision for Epstein, no surprise there, but a largely uneventful fight on the whole from the Beast, somewhat due to an opponent who didn’t seem to possess much in the way of offense.

Middleweight Fight: Sol Gilbert vs Jean Francois Lenogue

Big pop for Brighton’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ Sol Gilbert here, he’s clearly brought a lot of fans with him. Lenogue was looking to follow up an impressive victory over fellow Frenchman Damien Riccio at Cage Rage 7.

Lenogue gets a quick takedown to open, but Gilbert uses the fence ala Chuck Liddell to pop right back up to his feet. Lenogue manages to get him down though, into half-guard, where Gilbert ties him up, looking, like Epstein in the previous bout, to stall for the stand-up. Gilbert manages to reverse over into Lenogue’s guard, and then stands up, countering a low kick with a nice one-two as Lenogue joins him. Gilbert comes forward and shows some fast hands, tagging the Frenchman with a combo, but Lenogue comes in with a double leg and gets him down to guard. Sol ties him up from the bottom again, and then tries an armbar, but Lenogue avoids it and stands over him, narrowly avoiding a wild upkick attempt. The official calls Gilbert up, and they exchange into a clinch, where they muscle, exchanging some short punches. Lenogue gets another takedown and then mounts, but Gilbert rolls, giving his back, and then stands up out of danger to end the round.

They circle to open the 2nd, and Gilbert clips him with a right hand, before landing a couple of combinations to follow, causing Lenogue to grab a clinch. The Frenchman gets a takedown to half-guard, but Gilbert ties him up again, and then works his way back into full guard. Lenogue manages to stay active from the top, getting more aggressive as the round goes on, but this plays into Gilbert’s hands, and he works for an armbar, getting it locked on nicely for the tapout about four minutes into the round.

Big pop for the finish there, and it’s unsurprising that Gilbert’s got such a big fanbase, as he just comes off as a really nice guy who you can’t help but root for, I think. Nice submission finish too, and the announcers comment on the impressive nature of it as he was known more for his brawling and banging style.

Welterweight Fight: Phil Gildea vs Jeremy Bailey

There’s some sort of personal issue here that I can’t be bothered to touch on, quite frankly, as Bailey, while somewhat entertaining, isn’t the best ambassador for the sport, to put it mildly. Here, for example, he decides to deck Gildea before the fight’s even begun, during the staredown/rules explanation. Why they don’t disqualify him for that I’m really not sure. Utterly ridiculous. Anyhow, after a fracas, they decide to take a point from him and begin the fight.

Gildea somehow manages to hold back his anger, allowing Bailey to stalk him, landing some leg kicks, one of which buckles the knee, but Gildea ends up on top in half-guard, where he works the body and then pulls Bailey’s long ponytail. Sigh. He decides to stand, though, and Bailey lands with an upkick, before the official calls him back up. Gildea presses the action, but Bailey avoids his haymakers nicely, working leg kicks and landing a good overhand right. Gildea continues to stalk, taking jabs from Bailey, but finally he lands – putting the ‘Bad Boy’ down with a one-two, and then ends the round with two big lefts.

Into the 2nd, and they press with strikes, and Gildea lands a punch, so Bailey drops to his back and the crowd boo wildly as he grins from the butt-scoot position. Back up, and Gildea throws some wild haymakers that Bailey easily avoids, landing a couple of leg kicks, and this continues until Bailey catches him with a right hand that puts him on the mat! Of course, he follows up with a completely illegal flying stomp to the head, and the referee comes in to separate them. Bailey decides to throw and land an upkick anyway, and naturally chaos ensues, before the official decision comes in as a DQ win for Gildea.

An utter waste of time that I probably should’ve skipped in this review.

Middleweight Fight: Damien Riccio vs Matt Ewin

These two actually had a rematch at a later ‘Cage Warriors’ show that ended in controversy and chaos as a no-contest was called following a cut to Ewin, and from what I remember that was a big contribution to the wild brawl that ended that show, too.

Both guys rush out to open, and swing some wild punches, but nothing lands and both seem to realize they’re better off slowing down, smiling at each other in respect. They would’ve been better off trading from a fans perspective, as we get a largely inactive round, with some tentative low kicks and punches exchanged, until Ewin slips on a head kick and ends up on his back. Riccio works from the guard position, but can’t do much damage, and the referee ends up standing them and the round peters out from there with more low kicks exchanged.

The 2nd begins in the exact same fashion, until Riccio catches him with the first real big shot of the fight – a nasty left hook that puts Ewin down for the knockout. Not much to see there at all, really.

Cage Rage Heavyweight Title: Ryan Robinson vs Kuljit Degun

The title was vacated by Mark Epstein when he dropped to 205lbs, but I have honestly no idea why it ended up being on the line in a fight between these guys, as Degun was 1-2 at this point while Robinson was only 3-1 himself.

They exchange some low kicks to begin, and Degun catches one and gets a takedown to Robinson’s guard, where Robinson ties him up, only allowing Degun to work some short hammer-fists. Degun narrowly escapes an armbar attempt and stands, but Robinson comes back with a takedown of his own to side mount. That doesn’t last long as Degun works to his feet in a clinch, and takes a knee from Robinson, but catches a second one and gets a takedown to side mount. Robinson reverses out, but Degun gets a front facelock and forces him back down to bottom position in side mount. Robinson gets half-guard, and then escapes to his feet, where they exchange some jabs and low kicks to end the round.

Degun opens the 2nd with some good leg kicks, putting Robinson on one knee momentarily with one. He follows with a nice right high kick that puts Robinson down again, and then pounds away in half-guard, looking for the stoppage. Degun takes a full mount and goes for some sort of smother choke, but Robinson survives and then reverses, getting on top in guard as Degun suddenly looks out of gas. Robinson works for position, and then stands, dropping some big punches down into the face of Degun before leaping right over his legs, directly into mount! Whoa. Robinson pounds away from the mount, and Degun swiftly taps out there.

That actually was a pretty entertaining fight for the most part, especially the 2nd round, as Degun seemed in complete control, but gassed out trying to finish and from there Robinson took over – the leaping guard pass was especially impressive. Robinson wouldn’t hold onto the title for long, but hey, you can’t take it away from him, at least he won the belt.

Featherweight Fight: Leigh Remedios vs Ricky Salhan

Don’t know much about Salhan at all, but we get some pretty funny pre-fight interviews as – who else? – Jeremy Bailey talks some trash on Remedios on behalf of Salhan. Remedios is clearly the heavy favourite, though. Ian ‘The Machine’ Freeman joins us on commentary for this one.

Remedios charges right out of the gate, missing a Caol Uno-style flying kick to open, and they go into a clinch, where Salhan muscles him down, but Remedios reverses quickly ands stands. Salhan comes forward swinging wild, so Remedios jumps to guard, and works for a triangle, but Salhan stands up ala the first Hughes/Newton fight, with Remedios trying to work the triangle from mid-air. Salhan drops him with the inevitable powerbomb, but Remedios is okay and they come back up, where Salhan lands a big right before Remedios gets the takedown to half-guard. He mounts quickly and Salhan tries a weird reversal, looking to bridge out somehow, but it doesn’t pay off and Remedios moves into a high mount, landing some hard punches down onto his opponent. Remedios continues the control, and then moves his legs up, looking at first like he’s going for the triangle, but then changing into a straight armbar for the tapout.

Good performance from Remedios in what was a surprisingly entertaining fight, as Salhan, despite showing not all that much skill, put up a good fight for the most part and made it watchable at least.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: James Zikic vs Matthias Riccio

As far as I’m aware, before the emergence of Michael Bisping, Zikic was recognized as the top Light-Heavyweight in the UK, and a lot of fans will remember him for his UFC appearance, against Philip Miller at UFC 38. Matthias Riccio is I think the brother (or possibly cousin?) of Damien, but from what I’m aware he’s more of a kickboxer than an out-and-out streetfighter.

Riccio comes out swinging, so Zikic gets a clinch but ends up being taken down to half-guard. He gets full guard in quickly, and stays active from the bottom, moving his hips nicely and only allowing Riccio to land a couple of punches. Zikic looks for an armbar, but Riccio avoids and falls back for a heel hook attempt, but Zikic manages to slip out and we end up with Riccio back on top in Zikic’s guard. He goes for the armbar again, almost locking it on, but Riccio slips free once more, only to give his back as he stands. Riccio turns around into a clinch and gets the takedown once again, but Zikic gets half-guard quickly. Riccio tries to pass, but Zikic gets full guard and then reverses on top, passing Riccio’s guard quickly and then taking his back! Zikic flattens him out and looks to pound away, before getting the rear naked choke, and after a second Riccio taps out! Zikic begins to celebrate...but it’s too early yet as the referee reveals that Riccio tapped after the buzzer. Replays indeed confirm this, and we’re continuing.

They trade off to open the 2nd, and Ricco gets a takedown again, but Zikic tries the armbar, so Riccio pulls out and stands. Zikic comes back to his feet, and takes a high kick, but manages to get a clinch and follows with a takedown to side mount. Riccio looks in trouble from his back, as Zikic pounds him with some forearms, and then takes his back again. He flattens the Frenchman out in practically a carbon copy of the end of the first round, landing some punches before hooking in a rear naked choke, and this time there’s no buzzer to save Riccio, as he taps out.

Very entertaining fight while it lasted, as Riccio was aggressive, but Zikic stayed calm and constantly worked positioning from the bottom as well as a variety of submission attempts, and once he had Riccio on his back it was clear that the Frenchman was in trouble, and Zikic followed with the finish nicely. He hasn’t fought since though, and I’m really not sure why.

Middleweight Fight: Mark Weir vs Johil de Oliveira

For those who don’t recognize the name of de Oliveira, he’s the unfortunate guy who got his face burned by some errant pyro at a Pride show (unsure which, maybe 12?) and I believe he ended up with sight problems following it. Weir of course was looking to rebuild himself following his disappointing loss to Jorge Rivera at the previous Cage Rage show, and with de Oliveira claiming he’d never heard of ‘The Wizard’, Weir was looking to send a message too.

De Oliveira shoots in to open, and rolls for a heel hook immediately, but Weir absolutely POUNDS him as he tries it, throwing a barrage of punches and naturally Johil gives up the attempt, allowing Weir to take top position and then full mount. De Oliveira gives his back, and Weir tries a rear naked choke, but the Brazilian manages to avoid, rolling back to the mount position, where Weir then gets a mounted arm triangle for the tapout. Don’t think I’ve seen that done from that position before, actually.

Pretty much a squash as Weir just came out all guns blazing and completely tore through de Oliveira in very short time.

Cage Rage Middleweight Title: Anderson Silva vs Lee Murray

And finally, the fight that everyone had come to see, as local hero ‘Lightning’ Lee Murray – fresh off a victory in his UFC debut – was to face his toughest challenge yet, in one of the world’s top Middleweights, Anderson Silva, with the vacant Cage Rage Middleweight Title on the line. The hype around this at the time was *huge*, especially as it was one of the rare occasions where two fighters ranked in or around the top ten in their division were facing off outside of UFC or Pride. From what I remember, the general consensus was that Silva was the more well-rounded fighter and was proven against tougher competition, but a lot of people thought that he might have problems with Murray’s long reach (normally Silva has the reach advantage) and his documented one-punch knockout power.

Mixed reaction for Silva upon arrival, as the announcers quote him as saying he’d love to “fight a Lee Murray every week” because it’d mean consistent pay checks. Murray of course gets an absolutely MONSTER pop, easily the biggest of the night. Staredown is interesting too, as the tale of the tape has Murray billed as 6’2”, Silva at 5’11”, and yet they seem basically the same height.

They get the first round underway, and both men begin by circling tentatively, clearly wary of the other’s striking power. Murray throws the first shot, missing a big right hand, before Silva suddenly catches him with a big left high kick, knocking him off balance into the fence! Silva follows with a stiff right hand, but Murray manages to get a clinch, only for Silva to take him down into half-guard. They come up quickly, and Silva shoves Lee into the fence, where he works some nasty foot stomps, until the official breaks them up for inactivity. They restart, and Silva keeps a long range, working Murray over with low kicks to the left leg, while avoiding his big punches at the same time. Silva lands the left high kick again, and looks to follow with his trademark knee barrage in the plum clinch, but Murray returns fire, so Silva tries a takedown, which Murray blocks, causing the Brazilian to pull guard. Silva ties Lee up from the bottom, gripping his arms tightly as if to prep a submission attempt, so Murray lifts him up for a mini-slam. Murray stands back up out of the guard, and tries to surprise Silva with a haymaker, but Anderson ducks it well and gets a takedown to guard, working to pass as the round comes to an end.

They circle to open the 2nd, with Murray now managing to block a couple of high kicks, but still openly taking the kicks to the left leg. Murray lands a double left jab and looks to follow with the big right, but Silva ducks it again, and shoots in for a takedown, but Murray avoids and lands a right hook, and they go into a WILD TRADE with both men landing shots! Somehow neither guy lands cleanly though, and Silva shoots in for a takedown, but Murray ends up on top in Silva’s guard. He stands up to avoid any submission attempts, and Silva stays down in the butt-scoot position, before the official stands him back up to a big pop from the crowd. Silva continues to keep his distance, working the kicks again, but he slips to his back on a high kick attempt, and Murray stands over him until he’s called up once more. Silva really starts to work Lee’s left leg now, landing what could almost be described as kicking jabs to the front of the leg, before catching Murray with a nice right hand. Lee answers with a right of his own and looks to draw Silva into a trade, but Anderson’s having none of that, and he steps back and catches Murray with a left high kick and a big left hand into a clinch. Murray gets a takedown to guard, but then stands up again, and Silva quickly joins him. They circle off once more, with Silva continuing to work the leg kicks to end the round. So far Silva’s picked him apart standing, and the big shot just hasn’t come at all for Murray.

Third and final round then, and even the commentators recognize that Murray basically needs to knock Silva out or at least hurt him badly to win the fight at this point. Silva continues to work the leg kicks to open though, and Murray looks really slow and flat-footed now, his left leg clearly feeling the abuse. Silva begins to open up a bit more, landing a couple of high kicks and narrowly missing a wheel kick. More of the same follows, but this time Silva follows a front kick with a straight right to the jaw, decking Murray and sending him down against the fence! Silva closes in and drops some punches, smelling the finish, but somehow Murray survives, and Silva turns the tables, standing over him with Lee in the butt-scoot position until the ref calls him back up. And from there Silva continues to calmly pick him apart, working leg kicks from the outside while avoiding Murray’s haymakers, before ending the fight with a takedown to side mount. Crowd are very disappointed post-fight.

We’re going to the judges then, and unsurprisingly it’s a unanimous decision for Anderson Silva. Completely phenomenal performance from the Brazilian, as he put on what was basically a striking clinic to pick apart Murray from bell to bell. Seriously – I’m finding it difficult to think of a fight where leg kicks were used to such devastating fashion as this one here. Silva recognized and respected Murray’s punching power, and the gameplan he implemented was a very smart one – striking from the outside and using the leg kicks to take Murray’s mobility, before opening up more in the later rounds when it was clear that Lee was walking wounded. Murray fought well and showed his toughness and heart to survive the knockdown in the third, but really he had no answer for the striking masterclass. One of Silva’s best career performances, I’d call this.

-Post-fight Richard Blackwood attempts to interview Silva, seemingly not having a clue that the guy doesn’t speak English. Mark Weir then joins us to challenge Silva....and promptly gets blown off, as Anderson tells him to fight Lee Murray first. Ha, pretty cheeky, but it’s Anderson Silva so it’s cool with me. And we end there.

Final Thoughts....

The undercard to this one is a bit plodding, as stuff like Epstein’s fight, Riccio/Ewin and the terrible Bailey/Gildea debacle really drag, but once you get into the meat of the card, things pick up a lot – Remedios/Salhan and Zikic/Riccio are really fun fights, and to be fair I guess some of the undercard fights have cool moments and finishes. The main event though is what makes this show, it was advertised as a fight between two legitimate top-level 185lbers and lived up to the hype, and for fans of Anderson Silva or hell, fans of technical striking in MMA in general, it’s practically a must-see. Recommended on the strength of the main event alone.

Coming Soon....

Pride: 18.
UFC: 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 62, 63, 64 and 65.
Cage Rage: 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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