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Cage Rage 13: No Fear review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on February 28, 2007, 7:48 AM

Cage Rage 13: No Fear

London, England

-Your hosts are Malcolm Martin, Rob Nutley, and Stephen Quadros, with a seemingly coked-out Richard Blackwood joining us for the interviews post-fight.

-Some rule changes to explain for this show, before we begin. Prior to this one the Cage Rage rules were basically identical to those of the UFC, but around this time Cage Rage entered into a fighter sharing deal with Pride (which so far has benefited Cage Rage more) and thus changed their rules to become more close to those of the Japanese promotion. So, from this show onward, elbows on the ground were outlawed, and a new rule called ‘Open Guard’ was instituted. The basic gist of ‘Open Guard’ is that if a fighter decides to drop to their back for whatever reason and they’re more than a metre away from the fence, the referee can call ‘Open Guard’, allowing their opponent standing above them to attack using stomps, soccer kicks, and flying attacks to the head. As we’ll see, the rule means for some really exciting moments, although I would’ve preferred knees to the grounded opponent to be legalized first.

Welterweight Fight: Dean Bray vs Jeremy Bailey

Bray is a local guy who seems pretty popular with the crowd, and of course Bad Boy Bailey gets right in his face even before they begin.

They begin and Bailey comes right out with a big right, and they exchange some low kicks. Bray avoids another wild right and forces him back towards the cage, getting a front headlock in the process and landing some knees. Bray keeps him pressed against the fence, working him with bodyshots and some knees to the thighs, before breaking off and landing some combos from close range. More knees land from Bray as Bailey just defends for the most part, before the official steps in to break them. They exchange some strikes, and Bailey tells him to bring it on, so Bray responds by nailing him with a combo and some BIG KNEES. Bailey tries to answer back, but takes more knees and before long the official breaks them up to check a cut on Bailey’s forehead. It’s a deep one, and the doctor stops things there.

Pretty exciting opener – Bray came out aggressively and never really allowed Bailey to get going at all; I think he would’ve stopped it via strikes if it had gone on anyway.

Cage Rage British Lightweight Title: Abdul Mohamed vs Alexandre Izidro

Pretty strange match-up for the British Lightweight belt here, what with Izidro being Brazilian, and Mohamed, despite being billed from Sunderland, clearly being an adopted foreigner. Announcers suspect Mohamed will take Izidro down, and the Brazilian won’t mind one bit.

Round 1 opens with Izidro landing some low kicks. Mohamed attempts to answer, but Izidro catches it and slams Mohamed down to his back in guard! He passes quickly into side mount, but then stands back up for some reason and Abdul joins him. Mohamed presses, but Izidro avoids a single leg, and they press forward into a clinch where Izidro jumps into guard and pulls Mohamed down. Mohamed lands some punches from the top, but nothing major as Izidro ties him up for the most part. Mohamed stands, and tries a leaping punch into the guard, but misses and Izidro reverses and gets on top in side mount. Mohamed scrambles to his feet though, and misses a spinning kick to end the round.

2nd round, and Mohamed presses forward, but like the first round Izidro catches an attempted low kick and gets a trip to half-guard. They come back up quickly though, and a knee to the Brazilian’s gut breaks the clinch. Izidro comes forward and lands a side kick before pulling guard, but Mohamed avoids an attempt at a rolling sweep and keeps top position, passing to half-guard momentarily before Izidro gets full guard back. Mohamed stays busy, but Izidro’s defence looks good and he prevents any damage. He tries a triangle, but Mohamed uses the opportunity to land a big right hand to the face and then stands out of danger. Mohamed kicks the legs, but Izidro uses his feet to avoid a leaping punch. Izidro moves forward in the butt-scoot position, so the referee calls Open Guard for the first time, and Mohamed teases some stomp attempts, before landing a good left hand down into half-guard. Izidro rolls for a kneebar, and then transitions to an ankle lock, but can’t get it locked in and decides to go back to the kneebar instead. Mohamed uses the Ian Freeman tactic of defending a leglock though, and lands some hard punches to the head, before standing out of danger. The referee calls Open Guard again, but Mohamed just kicks at the legs to end the round.

Third and final round, and Abdul presses, but Izidro gets a single leg takedown and then spins to his back with both hooks in! The Brazilian tries the rear naked choke, but Mohamed manages to block it, and then powers right out, turning over into guard. Mohamed chops at the body and the head, but little damage is done and the ref calls them back to their feet. Izidro leaps forward into a clinch and pulls guard for a guillotine attempt, but Mohamed pops out and lands some punches, before standing and kicking the legs. Back down into the guard, and Mohamed works the body, avoiding a couple of leglock attempts as he continues. Izidro suddenly reverses to standing though, and lands some nice punches in the clinch as the round and fight come to an end. Close one to call, too.

Judges give it to Mohamed via majority decision, crowning him the new Cage Rage British Lightweight Champion. I actually had it 29-28 for Izidro, but it was a pretty close fight so you won’t get any complaints from me. I think the difference was probably that despite doing little damage, Mohamed spent more time in top position and the judges always tend to favour that. Good, competitive little fight here.

-Post-fight Mohamed’s coach Ian Freeman comes out and publicly announces his retirement from MMA, which like most retirement in sports lasted all of a year!

Cage Rage British Featherweight Title: Brad Pickett vs Ozzy Haluk

This title was originally supposed to be up for grabs in a fight between Leigh Remedios and Robbie Olivier some months previous, but Olivier suffered an injury and Remedios retired from MMA, so it got held up and they decided to re-instate it here. No complaint from me – Pickett’s probably my favourite homegrown Cage Rage fighter. He even randomly sings in his pre-fight interview, a bizarre rendition of R Kelly’s ‘I Believe I Can Fly’. No idea what that’s all about.

They circle and exchange some low kicks to open, before trading punches, which causes Haluk to shoot in. Brad sprawls, but eventually Ozzy gets the takedown to guard. He works into a side mount, but Pickett scrambles back to guard and looks to tie him up, before scrambling from the bottom and from this Haluk ends up pulling guard himself. Ozzy goes for a triangle, but gives it up and Pickett stands, but before he can attack Haluk pops right up and gets a takedown himself. He drops some punches, and then stands and Brad joins him, and they go into a TRADE OF BIG HOOKS with Haluk landing heavily, actually spinning Pickett around with one shot! Pickett somehow survives seemingly unhurt, and returns fire, stunning Ozzy with a big right-left combo! Haluk goes down, but the referee calls him back up and he quickly tackles Brad down to the mat again. Haluk works to pass the guard, and gets into side mount and then full mount, but Pickett rolls him over to guard. Pickett drops a flurry and then stands up, and the ref calls Haluk to join him. Ozzy throws a high kick and misses, and they trade punches again, with Haluk landing cleanly, before Brad decks him with a right hand! Pickett stands over him, and calls him back up as the round ends.

Ozzy looks somewhat tired coming into the second round, and Pickett counters a left kick with a sharp, straight right and they go into a trade-off again. Haluk tries a takedown, but botches it and ends up mounted, but Pickett chooses to stand instead, dropping a right hand down, but Haluk rolls for an ankle lock. Brad slips free and Ozzy is called back to his feet, where he works a good left jab, avoiding some big shots from Pickett in the process. Another trade follows, and Ozzy gets a takedown to guard again, but Brad ties him up and the action slows enough for the ref to stand them. They restart on their feet, and Haluk lands a couple of good, stiff punches, but eats some POWER HOOKS from Pickett and so goes for the takedown again, getting Brad down in guard. Both guys look a bit winded now, and nothing really happens in the guard until the ref stands them again. They trade right off the restart with Pickett getting the better of it, causing Haluk to shoot. This time though Pickett sprawls, so Ozzy drops to his back. Ref calls the Open Guard and Pickett LEAPS IN WITH A DOUBLE STOMP TO THE FACE!~! Ozzy sits up, but he’s clearly out of it at this point and the ref steps in, awarding Pickett the win and the title!

Post-fight Robbie Olivier interrupts the celebrations and challenges Pickett for his first title defense, and Brad accepts for Cage Rage 14 in December. Very, very exciting fight there, as is the usual for ‘One Punch’ Pickett. Haluk actually looked like a pretty skilled guy here, but Pickett just keeps such a high pace that it’s hard to keep up and by the 2nd round, he was clearly exhausted, which led to the finish. Their fighting styles are about as far apart as you can imagine, but Pickett actually reminds me a ton of Clay Guida, in that they’re not the most skilled guys out there, but their sheer heart and determination, and especially the torrid pace that they set in all of their fights makes them a difficult match for anyone. Very impressive win for Pickett.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Antony Rea vs Remus Ciobnu

Frenchman Rea was coming off two previous victories in Cage Rage and was looking for a third; his original opponent here was Pancrase and UFC veteran Jason Delucia, but he picked up an injury in training and the largely unknown Ciobnu stepped in at short notice, making his MMA debut in the process.

Rea lands some low kicks to open, causing Ciobnu to come in swinging, but Rea avoids the barrage and gets a clinch. They muscle for position, and Antony lands some knees. Ciobnu goes for a takedown, but Rea blocks it and breaks with some punches, causing Ciobnu to retreat and swing wild as Rea closes in. Rea gets a plum clinch, but Remus grabs his shorts to stop any knees, and then breaks into a regular over/under clinch. Ciobnu muscles for position, but Rea gets a suplex down into a side mount, where he uses the knee ride to get a full mount and land some heavy punches. Back to the side mount, and Remus attempts a reversal, but ends up giving his back, and Rea takes the back mount with both hooks and flattens him out, landing some punches before hooking in a rear naked choke for the tapout.

Remus looked brave and showed some heart, but it was quite clear that his skill level was nowhere near that of the Frenchman, and neither was his ring experience, and Rea was easily able to capitalize on that. Pretty much a squash.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Evangelista ‘Cyborg’ Santos vs Darren Little

In what would’ve been an interesting fight, ‘Cyborg’ was originally scheduled to be facing Michael Bisping here, but Bisping pulled out to take another fight instead (which eventually led to him being stripped of his Cage Rage title), and local brawler Darren Little stepped in at the last minute, giving the immortal line of “I’m gonna rip that geezer’s head off!” when asked about his gameplan. Cyborg holds nothing back in his pre-fight interview either, simply yelling “My name is Cyborg! Fuck you!” Expect fireworks here!

Round 1 gets underway, and Little comes right out swinging, but takes some heavy strikes from the Brazilian, who tosses Little to the mat. Little comes back up after taking a couple more punches, and they trade wild shots, with Cyborg decking him with a big left. Little comes right back to his feet, and blocks a high kick, but Cyborg simply leathers him with a left-right-left combination. Another right hand puts Little down, and Cyborg tries to follow up with an illegal soccer kick, which causes the ref to step in and call time. Little’s nose looks badly broken though, and his corner ends up chucking the towel in there. Destructive showing from Cyborg.

Post-fight we get a genuinely hilarious moment, as Richard Blackwood, his eyes seemingly on stalks at this point, tries to interview Cyborg and ends up swearing his head off, and encourages Santos to yell “Fuck you!” again to a monster pop. Blackwood looked coked out of his mind there, but this was tremendous in terms of unintentional comedy.

Middleweight Fight: Marcelo Azevedo vs Jorge Rivera

Rivera was looking to rebuild himself following the loss to Anderson Silva here, while Azevedo, a Brazilian fighting out of the Gracie Barra camp, was looking to make a name for himself by knocking off a solid contender at 185lbs.

Rivera comes out looking to strike, and Azevedo blocks a left high kick early, but takes a couple of uppercuts to follow. Rivera presses forward, but Azevedo ducks another high kick, and gets a takedown to side mount. Rivera reverses to standing, so Azevedo tries a jumping guillotine, but can’t get it quite locked up, so he changes levels instead and gets another takedown to side mount. He tries the full mount, but Rivera reverses to standing, only for Azevedo to work and get another takedown, this time to guard. Rivera tries to reverse out, but Azevedo shows some nice skill and spins over to take his back, getting one hook in. Rivera stands, but Azevedo pulls him back down, getting both hooks in now, and he lands some punches and begins to work for the rear naked choke. Rivera looks in trouble a couple of times, but he stays calm and finally slips out, coming back to his feet in a clinch. Rivera avoids a single leg and breaks, but Azevedo ducks an attempted swing and gets another single leg, seating Rivera against the fence to end the round. Wow, surprising round there – Rivera got sonned.

2nd begins and Rivera comes forward to attempt a knee, but Azevedo goes for the takedown again. Rivera defends well, but ends up going down again, and Azevedo works to pass the guard. Rivera defends nicely though, managing to tie Azevedo up enough for the ref to call a standing restart. Azevedo shoots in, but Rivera avoids and the Brazilian drops to his back, so the ref calls Open Guard, and Rivera uses it to full advantage, landing a BRUTAL STOMP TO THE HEAD! Azevedo rolls, but turns back to the butt-scoot again and Rivera misses another stomp, but then drops a heavy flurry of punches. Another head stomp lands as Rivera goes into half-guard, but Azevedo grabs his leg for an ankle lock. Rivera nails him with some punches and pulls out, then enters the guard, but the pace slows now, and they exchange in the guard to end the round.

Third and final round, and Azevedo still looks a bit hurt, missing a takedown early and dropping to his back. Ref calls Open Guard, and Rivera drops some punches down, causing the Brazilian to turtle up. He rolls to his back again, so Rivera kicks the legs, and then tries an ax-stomp, before waving him back to his feet. Rivera lands a straight right to stun him, and he drops to his back, but stands up again quickly. They circle, and Rivera blocks Azevedo’s now-weak takedown attempts, causing him to drop to his back repeatedly, although he avoids Rivera’s soccer kicks. Back up, and Rivera lands some punches, avoiding another takedown and kicking at the legs. Azevedo stands, and Rivera lands some hard low kicks, and then rocks him with a combination. Azevedo tries a desperation single leg, but Rivera blocks it and the fight ends there.

Unanimous decision for Rivera in what petered out into a bit of a slower affair, to be honest. The first two rounds were great, as Azevedo ran a clinic on him in the first, before running out of gas and determination in the 2nd when Rivera landed the stomp, but the third was just Azevedo missing takedowns and dropping to his back. Still, a good performance from Rivera who showed a lot of heart to come back from a bad first round, and it was good too to show the effectiveness of the Open Guard rule against the butt-scoot.

Middleweight Fight: Mark Weir vs Kyosuke Sasaki

After being pretty much robbed against Alex Reid at Cage Rage 12, Sasaki was returning to take on a seemingly rejuvenated Mark Weir, who was coming off one of his most impressive performances, a one-sided beatdown of Sol Gilbert that saw Weir capture the British Middleweight Title. Size difference is pretty clear here, as Sasaki is blatantly a blown-up Welterweight.

Sasaki presses to open as Weir narrowly misses a front kick. Weir circles around the Japanese, throwing some sharp one-two combos that Sasaki does well to block. Finally Weir catches him with a combo that sends him down, but he manages to get back up and block another flurry. Sasaki keeps pressing as Weir calmly circles, and finally Weir lands a clean left-right combo to send him down, following with a flurry for the stoppage.

Calm, by-the-book striking performance from the resurgent Weir, who just used his reach and stand-up advantage to full effect here and made short work of Sasaki.

Cage Rage World Light-Heavyweight Title: Melvin Manhoef vs Fabio Piamonte

Both men had made impressive Cage Rage debuts, Manhoef knocking French kickboxer Mathias Riccio out cold, while Chute Boxe’s Piamonte had decked Muay Thai stylist Cyrille Diabate en route to submitting him with a triangle choke. Pretty wild staredown here to get the crowd going, and Piamonte has a pretty big reach advantage, too.

Fabio comes forward aggressively, but walks into a left hook before he gets a clinch and a trip takedown. Melvin reverses immediately to half-guard though, and then stands up. Piamonte tries a takedown, but Manhoef avoids and opens up with a BARRAGE OF PUNCHES, stunning Piamonte badly, but somehow the Brazilian survives. Manhoef comes forward again, and they exchange punches, and this time Melvin lands a BIG RIGHT HOOK, causing Piamonte to collapse in a heap.

Jesus Christ does Melvin Manhoef hit hard. Piamonte was a game opponent, but really he was completely outgunned and Manhoef just caught him with a vicious shot to put him to sleep early. Post-fight Manhoef reiterates that he “lives for this shit”, garnering a monster pop from the London crowd. This guy RULES.

Heavyweight Fight: James Thompson vs Andy Costello

This was James Thompson’s Cage Rage debut, and immediately, due to his popularity in Japan, the announcers are talking him up as Ian Freeman’s successor in terms of the guy with the most success outside of the UK. Freeman actually joins us on commentary here, too. Costello is a big bloke, but man does Thompson dwarf him here. Guy is HUGE.

They begin and Thompson CHARGES IN WITH FURIOUS ANGER!~! and swings some wild punches, connecting and stunning Costello, who promptly tries to clinch. Thompson completely outmuscles him and continues to land shots, but somehow Costello gets a trip and puts him down in a side mount. Costello works a headlock from the top, but Thompson powers his way out to his feet, and then breaks and lands some heavy punches as Costello tries to fire back. Costello shoots in, but Thompson sprawls back and then spins to a waistlock from the side, landing some punches before rolling him to his back and taking a full mount. Costello gives his back, and rather than try a choke, Thompson just decides to pound him for the stoppage.

Total squash there as Thompson just overwhelmed Costello with his size, strength, and aggression, but really it wasn’t that great of a performance, just big wild punches with a lot of force behind them. Announcers immediately talk up a Thompson-Buzz Berry match for the vacant British Heavyweight Title, though.

Cage Rage World Lightweight Title: Vitor ‘Shaolin’ Ribeiro vs Jean Silva

I was looking forward to this main event almost as much as any fight in 2005, as one of my personal favourites, Shaolin Ribeiro, returned to Cage Rage to face another of my favourites in their champion Jean Silva in a classic all-Brazilian clash. General consensus was that Silva was likely outgunned on the mat, but would have a chance if he could keep it standing. Huge main event for Cage Rage, at any rate.

They begin, and Shaolin comes right out with a stiff jab before shooting for a takedown, resulting in him pulling half-guard and locking up a kimura right away. Silva defends, so Vitor hooks his leg over the top and flips over for an armbar attempt, but Silva manages to defend that too and drops some punches into the guard. Shaolin gets a reversal off some attempted offense, and gets a takedown of his own into Jean’s guard. Shaolin locks up his trademark arm triangle and passes to side mount to finish, but somehow Silva manages to survive, despite the hold looking INCREDIBLY tight, and manages to roll free! He gives his back in the process though, and Ribeiro looks to hop into a back-mount, but Silva rolls and spins out to guard! Shaolin stands in the guard, and then drops some beautiful, accurate punches right into the champ’s face, as he tries to roll and throws a couple of upkicks. Shaolin passes to half-guard though, and catches him with a couple more clean shots to end the round.

Silva comes out for the 2nd smartly looking to strike, but after landing a low kick and a glancing high kick, he misses a flying knee and Shaolin shoots and gets the takedown to side mount. Silva gets half-guard, and takes some more accurate shots from the challenger before managing to get full guard back. Shaolin stands, and Jean attempts his first submission – a kneebar – but Shaolin avoids it easily and passes to half-guard, before avoiding some upkicks en route to getting a side mount. Silva tries to roll free, but Shaolin hops right onto his back and gets both hooks in, working for the rear naked choke. Silva defends well, and tries to roll, but Shaolin transitions right into the arm triangle choke, locking it in this time from half-guard, and this time there’s no escape as he gets it in tight, causing Silva to tap out there.

Post-fight Shaolin celebrates with his newly won title as the announcers are pretty much in awe of his ground skill, and rightfully so. Silva is a legitimate, skilled BJJ black belt who’s submitted other black belts in MMA before, and yet Shaolin basically tooled him for two rounds, completely dissecting him en route to getting his trademark arm triangle for the win. I honestly don’t think there’s a better ground technician in MMA right now than Shaolin, and every fight I see him in seems to confirm that even more. Phenomenal performance.

-Richard Blackwood wraps things up, and we head to the credits.

Final Thoughts....

Another excellent show from Cage Rage, probably surpassing the previous show as the best one I’ve reviewed thus far. Some of the fights here went longer than the ones on that show, but really there’s nothing bad outside of the third round of Rivera/Azevedo. Brad Pickett, Mark Weir, and Melvin Manhoef again impressed in their fights, but the real star of this show is undoubtedly Shaolin, who put on one of the best ground fighting clinics I’ve seen in a long time, whitewashing the champion and capturing the title in the process. There’s everything here from slick submissions to violent knockouts, and on that note, it’s a show I’d highly recommend.

Coming Soon....

Pride: 18.
UFC: 63, 64 and 65.
Cage Rage: 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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