I know next to nothing about Grant except that he appears to be younger than me. ‘One Punch’ Pickett on the other hand is one of the most recognizable fighters on the UK scene, as his whole character is based around the Brad Pitt ‘One Punch Mickey’ gypsy character from Snatch, as he enters wearing his trademark trilby hat, string vest, and cut-off jeans. Pretty hilarious to see. This was his Cage Rage debut, too.
They get underway quickly and come out firing, and immediately Pickett rocks him badly with two left hooks. A third lands clean, and that’s all she wrote for young Stuart Grant. 17 seconds. Hilariously, Pickett almost lived up to the Snatch character’s ‘One Punch’ style here, except it took him three shots instead of one!
Al Turk is a big submission wrestler out of the London Shootfighters camp, I believe he’s qualified and competed a few times in Abu Dhabi, too. And before you ask, no, I can’t pronounce Maghizadeh’s name either, and the commentators are no help there, just referring to him as ‘Freddie’. I think I’ll do the same.
They come out swinging, and Al Turk rocks him badly with some big swinging hooks and then some heavy knees as he closes in, putting Freddie on Dream Street. Seriously, I have no idea how he’s still standing. Freddie somehow gets a clinch, but they quickly break off and brawl again, and again Al Turk lands some seriously heavy leather, rocking him again as Freddie flails, trying to fight back. Finally Al Turk scores big and knocks him down, and from there he takes a back mount and pounds away for the stoppage.
That was fun as far as big brawlers wildly swinging goes. Al Turk just had way too much power and accuracy for Freddie though, who showed little more than a hard chin. Supposedly Al Turk has improved a lot recently though, and he’s actually been matched up with Mark Kerr on the next Cage Rage show, which could be interesting.
Poor Berik gets announced by the MC as a ‘Tai Chi’ fighter, which is pretty ridiculous as far as I’m aware, and the commentators notice it too and immediately explain that he’s actually a San Shou guy for the most part. Mohamed is a stocky, muscular wrestling-based fighter out of Ian Freeman’s camp, and he immediately makes his intentions known in the pre-fight interviews, telling Berik in no uncertain terms “I will kill you”.
They circle to begin, before Mohamed closes the distance and gets a BIG SLAM down to Berik’s guard! Berik gets a guillotine half-on, so Mohamed lifts him up and slams him right down again, this time to side mount! Berik works his way to guard and tries to stand, but Mohamed follows him up, getting a rear waistlock before delivering a huge German suplex! He tries to get a rear naked choke, but doesn’t have either of his hooks in, and Berik manages to turn back into a clinch...but of course Mohamed cradles a leg and delivers a HUGE BODYSLAM! Berik gets full guard, but Mohamed lands some forearms, seemingly in complete control – but Berik begins to throw some elbows from his back, and somehow one of them catches Mohamed and cuts him open badly over the left eye. The referee calls the break...and it’s a doctor stoppage win for Berik.
Really entertaining fight in itself as Mohamed fought like a mini-Rampage on speed with all his big slams, but obviously the ending was a really bad break for him, as he was in total control of the fight and just suffered an unlucky cut.
The announcers are pushing Reid as one of the UK’s top Middleweight talents, despite his unfortunate nickname of ‘The Reidernator’. At this point, indeed, he did look like a good prospect at 6-1 with the lone loss coming in a supposedly great fight against Mark Weir. No real details on his opponent here Palhares, other than the fact that he’s Brazilian.
Reid throws a kick to open, but Palhares counters with a quick takedown to guard. Tulio looks to work from the top but almost immediately after they hit the ground, Reid sets up a triangle choke and closes it out for the tapout. That was seriously quick.
Post-fight Reid cuts a somewhat charismatic promo with Richard Blackwood, and mentions that he didn’t think he’d catch a Brazilian fighter so quickly with a triangle. I’d agree with him, but when a check of said Brazilian’s record reveals that he’s currently 2-13-0, it’s not so surprising.
From their last Cage Rage fights it was clear that these two were on opposite paths, as Daley had looked very impressive in stopping Xavier Pokam pretty quickly, while Liaudin suffered a loss at the hands of Matt Ewin due to a badly broken nose.
Liaudin clinches quickly, but Daley gets a leg sweep down to his guard, and moves him to the fence immediately, landing some lefts from the top. Liaudin hooks in a triangle choke, but Daley lifts him up and slams his way out, so Jess transitions to an armbar instead, and it looks locked in, but Daley shows some really nice defence, using his legs to prevent the arm straightening fully and then works his way free. Semtex ends up back in Liaudin’s guard, and this time he opens up and drops some hard shots before the Frenchman ties him up. Daley breaks free and lands a couple of lefts before standing, and they swing into a clinch, before breaking off to trade momentarily before clinching again. Liaudin pulls guard, but it’s clear he’s having trouble with his nose again at this point as it’s bloody as hell. Daley works from the top, but Liaudin gets a sweep over to full mount, and then lands some elbows to end an exciting round. Between rounds though, unsurprisingly, they stop the fight due to a broken nose suffered by Liaudin.
Post-fight Liaudin announces his retirement from MMA, planning to take one more fight maybe, but he hasn’t lived up to that at all and strangely enough he’s on a three-fight win streak at this time! Anyway, this was a pretty entertaining fight that was stopped pretty abruptly due to the broken nose, but it’s good for what it is.
Elliot lived up to his ‘Speedy’ nickname in his last Cage Rage outing, submitting his opponent in under a minute, but it was pretty clear I think that Olivier was a tougher test for him. Both of these guys were unbeaten in Cage Rage at this point, too, adding a little more interest into the equation.
They get underway and exchange some kicks into a clinch, where Elliot looks to jump to guard, only for Olivier to SLAM him down to the mat. Elliot’s head obviously hits the mat though as he looks stunned right away, and Olivier drops some big shots down from standing for the quick stoppage!
57 seconds, Elliot lived up to his nickname again, but this time it went the wrong way for him – seemed to be similar to Ortiz/Tanner, that sort of thing with the guy’s head hitting the mat hard on the slam, as he looked out of it from there onwards really.
Gilbert mentions that his opponent’s Brazilian in his pre-fight interview, but in reality he’s Lithuanian, not sure how he got that mixed up. At any rate, the commentators mention that Vivada is taking this fight on short notice, no clue who he was replacing though.
They trade into a clinch to open, with Gilbert catching him with a couple of nice punches. Sol gets a takedown from the clinch, and Vivada tries a guillotine from the bottom, but Gilbert actually ends up in full mount so for all intents and purposes, Vivada’s wasting his time trying the choke. Gilbert works the body, looking in no danger, before working his way free, and taking Vivada’s back as he rolls. Gilbert looks for the rear naked choke, landing some punches, before Vivada stands, so Sol looks to float over into an armbar, only for Vivada to escape back into Gilbert’s guard. Sol tries the armbar again, but Vivada stands to escape this time and Gilbert joins him on their feet. Both men press, and Vivada lands a nice right hand, but Gilbert comes back with a leg kick and then a BIG RIGHT CROSS to put him down for the knockout. Replays show the punch caught him right on the chin.
Impressive performance from Gilbert, although the calibre of opposition wasn’t all that high.
After a bit of a flat performance in his last title defense against Oliver Ellis, Silva was looking to redeem himself somewhat by taking out a fighter he’d already fought – and beaten – before, in Frenchman Samy Schiavo. Their first fight was said to be pretty entertaining, so I’m expecting good things here.
Silva misses a spinning kick to open and then shoots into a clinch, where they muscle for position, exchanging some knees and uppercuts. They continue with this for a while until Schiavo lands a knee to Silva’s groin, and the ref calls the stoppage there to give him time. Restart, and this time Schiavo misses a spinning kick, and they go back into the clinch where the Frenchman lands another low knee. Silva takes some time, and then they restart, and Jean immediately tackles him into the fence this time. Schiavo reverses position and gets a takedown of his own, but Silva grabs a front facelock and goes for the anaconda choke. He can’t seem to lock it in though, and after two attempts he ends up on the bottom in guard. Silva tries a triangle, but Schiavo stands out of it and drops a haymaker down into the guard that barely connects. He stands again, this time dropping a shot right onto Silva’s jaw, but Jean gets his legs up as he lands, and hooks in a tight triangle, forcing Schiavo to tap out.
Short and eventful fight there, as Silva put on one of his most impressive performances following one of his more flat ones to put Schiavo away. Silva might not be the very best fighter in the world or anything, but man, he’s entertaining as hell when he’s on, and he was definitely on here.
This card was easily the most stacked Cage Rage card to date in terms of big name fighters, Babalu being the biggest on the show thus far, and just showed how far the promotion had come at this point (and it’d grow even further, as we’ll see in future reviews). At this point Babalu was in his hiatus from the UFC, and was coming off the big tournament win in the IFC, as well as a victory over Jose Pele Landi at the Jungle Fight.
Interestingly Babalu’s wearing long tights here rather than board or Vale Tudo shorts, though they’re not the garish banana yellow type that Shinya Aoki’s been favouring recently. Mad intense staredown too, both guys look ready for WAR.
Round 1 begins and Babalu throws a front kick out before getting a double leg with ease to Diabate’s guard. Diabate tries to tie him up, but Babalu works free and lands some forearms, before passing into side mount pretty quickly. Sobral has total control over him at this point, and he tries to work into full mount, but Diabate gets half-guard back. Babalu goes for the mount again, and Diabate uses this to get a reversal, but as he does Babalu gets a guillotine locked on and then rolls through, all the way into top position with full mount, and Diabate is forced to tap there.
Utter domination for Babalu who was quite clearly a class above his opponent here – no disrespect intended, but the guy’s one of the best 205lbs fighters in the world. The most impressive thing was the ease in which he ran through Diabate though – even the takedown came easily, and the set-up with the lazy front kick was almost like Royce Gracie’s takedowns from UFC 1.
This was a rematch from their first, exciting title fight at Cage Rage 7. Not really sure why Epstein was granted a rematch this early as he’d only decisioned a guy in his last fight and didn’t look that hot, but I guess they couldn’t find a better opponent at the time (unless Epstein took the fight late – I can’t remember properly).
Round 1 opens and they both press forward tentatively, nothing like the brawling in the first fight. Neither guy gets off anything major, although both men do land. Bisping begins to land the cleaner shots, opening up at one point with a short flurry, while Epstein manages to land some nice leg kicks, although he’s taking punches. Bisping suddenly rocks him with a pair of right hands, but Epstein manages to recover, only for Bisping to NAIL him with a left cross that puts him on the mat! Bisping drops down to full mount and looks for the finish, pounding away as referee Grant Waterman yells at Epstein to defend himself, and defend himself he does, somehow surviving the onslaught and reversing over to Bisping’s guard, and the round ends there. Epstein did well to get out there, for sure.
2nd begins with Bisping using his reach advantage to full effect, working the left jab and landing clean punches, as Epstein is reduced to swinging haymakers from distance that Bisping easily avoids with good head movement. Bisping continues to land shots, basically picking Epstein apart and landing flurries at will now, and Epstein shows a SOLID chin, taking everything and simply refusing to budge somehow. This is getting nasty to watch at this point, but Epstein once again survives the round.
Third and final round then, and Epstein opens with a couple of solid leg kicks, but continues to eat the left jab from Bisping, who also lands a couple of hard left-right combinations. Bisping begins to get really confident, taunting Epstein, but suddenly it catches up with him as Epstein lands a hard leg kick that causes him to wince! Epstein follows with more kicks, buckling Bisping’s leg, and the crowd begins to light up, the unlikely comeback suddenly looking on the cards! Epstein comes forward, sensing that Bisping is hurt...but Bisping finally lands with a crushing right hand, putting him down for good this time. Bisping retains via KO.
This was an interesting fight – not as exciting as the first one, but it definitely had its moments. For the most part Bisping put on a clinic of how a good technical striker can easily pick apart a brawler, as he simply used his jab to keep the distance between them, utilizing his reach advantage and avoiding Epstein’s haymakers, while landing his own shots at will. Ironically though it was his own defensive mistake – allowing Epstein to land some really crushing leg kicks – that allowed him to finally finish the fight, as Epstein opened up thinking Bisping was hurt, and allowed him that one final shot on the chin to finish things. Overall a really good showing from Bisping, but I think the third round definitely would’ve shown him that at no stage should you get overconfident in the cage.
Like Babalu, the addition of a major international star like Lindland really added a lot to this card, and with Weir being one of the UK’s top Middleweights as well as a good striker (which most would consider Lindland’s weakest point) there was definitely interest here.
Weir opens up with his trademark high kick and tries a flurry, but Lindland’s having none of that and he quickly grabs Weir in a high clinch. They muscle for position, and Weir manages to avoid the takedown well for a while, but Lindland eventually trips him down to guard. He passes into half-guard momentarily, but Weir gets full guard back, taking some shots as he does so. Weir almost scrambles to his feet, but Lindland keeps him down and works him over with forearms to the face, cutting Weir open over the eye. Weir tries to tie Lindland up, but the Law continues to work, grinding away with forearms, punches and elbows from the top and this goes on until the round ends. Weir comes up and his eye’s looking badly cut again, and so they stop things there.
Weir actually did well I thought here until it hit the mat, but Lindland is just one of the worst guys to have on top of you and he basically put in a workmanlike performance, grinding away with forearms and elbows and generally punishing Weir for the remainder of the round. To have the fight end on a cut was somewhat unlucky for Weir, but lets be fair – if it’d continued, the only likely result was Lindland either punishing him to a decision, or grinding out a TKO anyway. A typical Lindland fight really, which is (keep it quiet!) something that’s actually growing on me as of late!
Freeman was making his big return to action after about a year off here, and walked right into a title shot. Despite Freeman’s inactivity and also his announcement that he’d be dropping to 205lbs whatever the outcome here, everyone from the announcers to Freeman to Robinson himself seemed to believe that the result here was obvious – Freeman was going to win. Robinson even looks in total awe of ‘The Machine’ during the staredown.
Robinson comes forward to open, but Freeman throws some punches so Ryan shoots in and gets a takedown to guard. Freeman quickly overpowers him and reverses to a standing clinch, where he catches an attempted knee and gets his own takedown to guard. Freeman starts to work from the top, pounding away before passing to side mount, where he opens up with some big punches while keeping Robinson pinned firmly down. Robinson begins to visibly flinch as the shots land, and then Freeman takes Robinson’s back, flattening him out before delivering more crushing blows, and unsurprisingly Robinson taps out, crowning Freeman the new champion.
Blowout for Freeman, no surprise there as he was clearly a class above Robinson, but I think Robinson came in totally overawed as well and that made Freeman’s job even easier. Freeman went on to vacate the title right away and drop to Light-Heavyweight though, and I still wonder why the promotion would let him take a title fight in the first place if he had no indication of keeping and defending the belt.
And, we end there.
Cage Rage 9 is definitely a fun show – all the fights save Bisping/Epstein are ended in the first round – and there’s certainly nothing that you’d consider boring or even slow here. On the flipside though, there’s nothing that’s absolutely outstanding or must-see though, and the two big name fights (Lindland and Babalu) are very one-sided for the most part as they were clearly a class above their opponents. Largely, Cage Rage 9 is more notable for showing that the promotion could attract and use legitimate big name, proven international stars, and that alone makes it a recommended show, but despite the lack of a really classic fight, it’s still a watchable show because everything goes so fast! Recommended.
UFC: 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 62, 63, 64 and 65.
Cage Rage: 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.