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Cage Rage 14: Punishment review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on February 28, 2007, 7:48 AM

Cage Rage 14: Punishment

London, England

-Your hosts are, well... it’s sort of complicated here actually. Production has seen a complete overhaul from the last show, with the “show” itself now being presented by Ian Freeman who breaks down the fights in a backstage studio-type thing ala a Pride show, which makes it more coherent to follow. Announcers are still Martin, Nutley and Quadros, and Richard Blackwood’s still here to do the post-fight interviews. Joining Freeman in spots are various people including Quadros, Forrest Griffin, and Jeff Monson.

-In mentioning the new production it’d probably be fair to mention as well, they’ve swapped the old white ring mat for a new, much more professional looking yellow one with sponsor logos on it, and sponsor logos (like men’s magazine Nuts) adorn the cage itself now too, just giving the show a more big-time look. Definitely a change for the better.

Lightweight Fight: Gesias ‘JZ’ Calvancanti vs Michihiro Omigawa

They’re advertising this as a ‘Bushido Challenge’ match with the winner supposedly gaining a slot on a future Pride Bushido show. Omigawa had actually been to Bushido before, losing to Aaron Riley by knockout in his MMA debut, while JZ (not sure what the nickname refers to) had made a name for himself primarily in Shooto, compiling a 6-1-1 record with the only loss being a decision to Joachim Hansen.

Round 1 begins and JZ comes forward and misses an overhand right. Two low kicks land from Omigawa, before JZ answers with a front kick to the face. Omigawa throws some more kicks, but JZ catches him with a big overhand right to put him down, and follows up with another one that lands flush for the knockout and the stoppage.

Pretty much a quick and easy win for JZ. Strangely though he never actually got his Pride shot, instead joining the K1 HERO’s promotion where he went on to win their 2006 Lightweight tournament, rising his stock hugely in the process. No clue why Pride didn’t lock up a fighter of his obvious talent at all.

Welterweight Fight: Ross Mason vs Darren Guisha

No background really offered on Guisha I’m afraid, other than the announcers telling us that he won’t want to be standing with Muay Thai expert Mason. Fair enough.

They press forward, exchanging low kicks into a clinch to begin. Mason works the body inside, and then gets a takedown to half-guard. He mounts quickly, but Guisha holds on tight and the referee ends up standing them. Mason lands a left body kick off the restart, and follows with a low right kick and a glancing flying knee into the clinch. Mason trips him to half-guard again, but then stands, and lands a couple of lefts when Guisha joins him. Darren closes the distance for a clinch, but after a brief knee exchange Mason gets another takedown to half-guard, this time passing into side mount. He gets full mount, and Guisha holds on, but this time Ross breaks the grip and opens up, landing some big punches as Darren covers up to end the round.

Into the 2nd then, and Mason opens with some kicks. Guisha answers with a decent right hand, but Mason comes back with some more kicks before landing a left hand to put Guisha on the deck. Mason waits for him to come back up, and then lands a big left hand and a follow-up kick, causing Guisha to shoot in. Mason blocks and gets on top in side mount, and then mounts, moving him away from the fence to prevent him using it for a reversal. Guisha looks in trouble and sure enough, Mason drops some nasty punches from the mount for the stoppage.

One-sided fight as Guisha had nothing for Mason, and it was really only a matter of time before ‘The Boss’ finished things.

Welterweight Fight: Nigel Whitear vs Dean Bray

Funny story – Whitear is a bald-headed guy, so with the ring announcer shouting his nickname, I heard it as ‘PINBALL’. It’s actually ‘Pitbull’, which is more threatening, but far less original. Boo! Both guys seem pretty popular with the London crowd.

They begin, and it’s a WILD TRADE to open up, before Bray gets a takedown to guard. Whitear tries a guillotine, and then an armbar, but Dean avoids both and passes into side mount. He lands some hammer fists, but Whitear reverses and rolls into top position, only for Bray to flip him right back over and take full mount. Bray lands some short punches, but it’s another reversal as Nigel ends up on top in Bray’s guard. Dean tries to reverse that, but this time Whitear gets a guillotine and pulls guard. Bray pops out and lands some more short punches, but Whitear catches him out of nowhere with an armbar, and gets the tapout.

Short but eventful fight, and really nice submission finish too; Whitear literally slapped the armbar on out of nowhere.

Featherweight Fight: Robbie Olivier vs Chris Freeborn

This was originally scheduled to see Olivier facing Brad Pickett for the British Featherweight Title, but Pickett got injured training with American Top Team, so Freeborn – who actually beat Pickett in an earlier show – stepped up to take the fight on short notice.

Olivier sprints right out to open the first, getting an instant takedown to half-guard. He mounts quickly, but Freeborn reverses, so Robbie gets a front facelock and gets him down to side mount. Into the full mount and he lands some rights, but then he hops back into the side mount and ends up standing as Freeborn looks to get guard. Referee calls open guard and Olivier lands a stomp to the body, then drops a right hand into the guard. He stands up and avoids some upkicks, then drops some more punches, and grabs a front facelock as Freeborn tries to stand. Olivier wrestles him down to side mount, and avoids a reversal before trying the full mount. Freeborn blocks it with his legs, so Olivier stands, and as Freeborn joins him Robbie gets another takedown to side mount. Freeborn stands in a front facelock, but Olivier controls him and manoeuvres to his back, going for an unorthodox armbar variation, but Freeborn spins out and ends up in top position. Olivier reverses quickly though, and drops some big punches into guard, before standing and taking a couple of upkicks to end the round.

2nd round, and Freeborn looks to strike, but Olivier gets a clinch right away. Chris blocks the takedown, but Olivier works and gets him down to side mount. Freeborn moves from the bottom and gets back to guard, but Olivier stands, and takes some upkicks before going back into the guard. Freeborn defends well, so the referee calls the standing restart. Freeborn tries a flying knee as they restart, but Olivier avoids and gets another takedown to guard, passing into side mount quickly. He controls well, without really doing damage, and then gets a full mount off a reversal attempt. Some punches from Olivier land, before Freeborn tries a heel hook from underneath, and they come back up to standing, with Olivier holding a front facelock to end the round.

Third and final round, and Freeborn comes out swinging, but again Olivier takes him down and passes the half-guard quickly to side mount. Olivier controls him, and then goes for an armbar, getting it extended, but Freeborn manages to turn into it and escapes out into top position. Now Olivier locks on a triangle, but Freeborn pops out, and takes some upkicks on his way into Olivier’s guard, where Robbie tries the triangle again. This time it looks tighter, and Olivier rolls to mount with the triangle locked on, looking to finish, but somehow Freeborn climbs his legs up the fence, and manages to survive, slipping free and ending up on top! Total Houdini job there. Freeborn passes to side mount, but Olivier gets guard, and gets a third triangle. He can’t finish it though, and this time the action slows enough for the ref to stand them. Freeborn lands a right off the restart, but Olivier gets another takedown, and works to pass to side mount to end the fight.

To the judges, and it’s a quite clear unanimous decision for Olivier. This was an interesting one in that Olivier did hardly any damage, but he was all over Freeborn from the off, taking him down at will and continually improving position, and it was only Freeborn’s solid defense that allowed him to survive the whole fight. How he got out of the second triangle I don’t know. Strong performance from Olivier to definitely solidify himself as the top contender, as he easily dealt with a guy that had previously beaten the champ.

Heavyweight Fight: Alan Murdoch vs Dave Legeno

Legeno is actually 43 years old, and he’s apparently better known as an actor, having roles in movies like Snatch (although I honestly can’t recall seeing him in that film) and this is his MMA debut. Murdoch is basically a big brawler from what I can gather, making him the perfect opponent for Legeno. Again, both men seem hugely over with the London crowd here, especially Legeno who cuts a strong promo pre-fight, showing some of that acting ability I guess.

They exchange some predictably big punches to open, and Legeno nails him with some solid bodyshots and uppercuts. Murdoch looks stunned and tries a takedown, but Legeno blocks it and lands a combination, and they exchange some more punches into a clinch. Murdoch trips him to the ground, but he comes back up right away, and they exchange some HUGE punches, with Legeno rocking him bad this time. Murdoch covers up as Legeno comes in swinging, but then Murdock answers right back with some heavy punches of his own and a BIG KNEE TO THE FACE. The exchange continues with Murdoch now landing the better strikes, as Legeno looks tired, but then Legeno comes back from nowhere and decks him with a right! Legeno goes down and grabs him in a front facelock, but Murdoch works for the takedown and then gets him on his back, taking the mount. Legeno looks exhausted, and Murdoch pulls out of a weak guillotine attempt, and then slaps on a straight armbar, and the referee steps in when Legeno refuses to tap.

Basically a low-skilled brawl, but it was a fun one as neither guy stopped swinging for a second. I prefer my MMA to be skilled and all, but eh, the crowd loved this and who am I to knock it?

Middleweight Fight: Xavier Foupa Pokam vs Sol Gilbert

Gilbert looks really small for a Middleweight here and indeed, he dropped down to Welterweight soon after. ‘Professor X’ was looking for revenge as Gilbert had previously defeated one of his teammates, and he comes out wearing a cool skull mask here, giving him a look like Mortal Kombat’s Shao Kahn.

They press, both men looking to strike, and it’s Sol who lands first, clipping him with a body shot. Gilbert slips to his back on a superman punch attempt, but comes back to his feet quickly, and then lands a couple of left hooks, following with a straight right that makes Xavier backpedal. Gilbert comes forward, but walks right into a right hand that drops him to the mat. He comes up again, but looks wobbly now, and when he shoots in for a takedown, Xavier throws him down and follows with a vicious soccer kick to the head, putting Gilbert firmly down. Of course, the referee hadn’t called open guard, and when it’s clear that Sol isn’t fit to continue, it’s a DQ and a win for Gilbert.

Post-fight Gilbert offers Xavier an immediate rematch, while referee Grant Waterman explains that the kick probably wasn’t malicious as such; Xavier more than likely misunderstood the open guard rule. Ah well.

Heavyweight Fight: Robert Berry vs Marc Goddard

Two BIG heavyweight brawlers here, with Berry being the more well-known of the two, as I’ve not seen Goddard before.

Round 1 begins and Berry opens with a low kick, causing Goddard to shoot in for a takedown. Buzz blocks it and they go into a clinch, muscling for position before breaking off. Goddard shoots again, but this time Berry clamps on a guillotine and pulls him down, getting into top position, before standing back up with the guillotine still firmly on, and another good squeeze gets the tapout.

Not much to see there to be quite honest – just a quick win for Buzz.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Mark Epstein vs Brian Adams

Epstein cuts a fucking HILARIOUS promo pre-fight here, explaining that initially he got confused as he thought he was fighting “some crappy Canadian singer with long hair”. I actually didn’t like Epstein all that much when I first got into Cage Rage, but now I find him absolutely tremendous in terms of personality. Not much to say about Adams – the ring announcer bills him as ‘Big Brian’, but the website at the time had him down as ‘Shrek’ and the latter is probably a more appropriate nickname.

They trade low kicks to open, and then Adams lands a left jab, only for Epstein to come in with a HUGE LEFT HOOK to deck Adams, and the force of the shot sends him tumbling to the mat too! Of course, Epstein gets right up, and Adams....doesn’t, clearly in a world of his own. Fifteen seconds, holy crap. This was actually very, very reminiscent of the Joe Riggs-Diego Sanchez finish, except Epstein didn’t need to waylay the guy with a big knee as he got to his feet.

Post-fight a gaunt-looking Lee Murray presents his teammate Epstein with his trophy, and he’s gaunt-looking for a reason – this was about five or six weeks after he was almost fatally stabbed in a nightclub brawl. Back to the fight anyway – again, not much to see, but a nice highlight reel finish for Epstein.

Middleweight Fight: Matt Lindland vs Nino Schembri

This was Lindland’s return to Cage Rage after a year away, and it was also his first fight after being released unceremoniously from the UFC. Schembri comes out with the Chute Boxe camp, but no offense, I think it’s clear that he was overmatched against an angry Lindland here.

Round 1 opens and Lindland comes forward firing his left hand, so Nino shoots in, but Lindland blocks and gets him against the fence. Schembri jumps to guard, so Lindland slams him down hard and then clubs him with the left hand, passing into half-guard as Schembri seemingly looks to prep a sweep. Schembri gets to his feet, but Lindland uses his trademark front headlock to dump him back down into half-guard. Schembri gets his full guard back, but Lindland pins him firmly into the fence, and avoids an armbar, hammer-fisting his way free. Referee stands them back up, and Schembri tries a high kick, but Lindland catches it and gets a takedown to guard. He lands some left hands, and then stands, asking for the open guard, but the referee tells him they’re too close to the fence and calls Nino back up instead. Lindland lands a nice looping left off the restart, and Nino clinches and looks for the takedown to end the round.

2nd round begins and Schembri predictably charges right out and leaps into guard, but Lindland stands back up and drops some big punches into the guard, visibly marking up Nino’s face. Action slows down and the ref stands them, and Lindland catches him with a left body kick and a good left hook. He gets him down against the fence, and goes into half-guard, looking for a guillotine from the top, but then gives it up and stands over him instead. Into the clinch as Schembri comes up, and the Brazilian pulls guard, but Lindland stacks right back up and lands some hard shots, then decides to go back down and deliver some more punishment, continually working Schembri over to end the round.

Third and final round, and Lindland opens with the left hook again, before Nino clinches and tries to jump to guard, with Lindland slamming him down. Lindland continues to work him over with punches and hammer fists, until the official stands them again. Schembri lands a glancing high kick off the restart, his one offensive move, but then pulls guard again, this time in the center of the cage. Lindland stands over him, and the ref calls open guard, so Lindland tries a stomp that misses. He follows, however, with some HUGE PUNCHES from the top, real big looping ones to hurt Schembri badly. Nino looks in deep trouble so Lindland smells blood and opens up, nailing him with a FLURRY OF BRUTAL PUNCHES for the TKO stoppage.

Totally one-sided beatdown and one of the most aggressive Lindland performances I’ve seen, too. Schembri just had nothing for him and honestly, you got the feeling Lindland was drawing the beating out just for the hell of it. Brutal performance from the Law and honestly, I’ve come round on him so much in the past nine months that I actually look forward to his fights now!

Middleweight Fight: Daijiro Matsui vs Alex Reid

Reid claims in his pre-fight interview that he’ll knock off Matsui here and then head to Pride, nice to see him have such high hopes. Matsui for his part looks in absolutely tremendous shape here, much moreso than I can recall ever seeing him in Pride. As it goes, it’d actually been over three years since his last appearance in Pride, anyway.

Matsui shoots to open up and catches Reid off balance, putting him on his back early. Reid throws some upkicks, and then gets to his feet, but Matsui charges in and gets the takedown to guard. He stays busy, but doesn’t do all that much damage, before passing into half-guard. Reid blocks the attempts at full mount, but Matsui lands with some short punches and shoulder strikes for good measure. The official stands them back up, and Matsui shoots again, with Reid blocking for a moment but then ending up on his back again. Matsui stays busy again, avoiding a triangle choke attempt and cutting Reid over the right eye and under the left with punches. Matsui stands up to deliver some shots, but takes some nasty upkicks from Reid and some slashing backfists from the bottom too, cutting him near the right eye, before the Japanese gets into side mount to end the round.

Reid looks for a kick to begin the 2nd, but Matsui catches it and gets the takedown again. Reid lands his backfists from the bottom, trying to open the cut further, and they exchange in the guard before Matsui tries a kneebar. He can’t get the right positioning on it though and ends up back in Reid’s guard, where he stands and takes some more wild upkicks. Matsui gets into half-guard, and stands to attempt a pass, but more upkicks land and Matsui’s right eye looks closed now. Referee calls open guard, and Matsui tries a flying stomp, but Reid gets his legs up and kicks the midsection. Matsui avoids a triangle, but can’t seem to escape the half-guard. Finally get gets into side mount, and lands some lefts, but Reid once again gets back to half-guard and the round ends there.

Third and final round, both guys look battered and bloody now. They trade strikes to open, and Reid lands the better punches, opening up with a couple of front kicks to the face for good measure. Matsui ducks a kick and gets the takedown though, avoiding a triangle, and stacking up to deliver some punches, but Reid continues to throw the backfists and upkicks from his back, damaging Matsui’s eye further. Matsui passes into the half-guard now, and both guys look exhausted and messed up, and the referee stands them. Reid rocks him with a combination of punches as they exchange, and then follows with some knees from the plum clinch. They break off and Matsui shoots, but Reid sprawls and stands, with open guard being called. Matsui manages to stand before the rule can be exploited, and then Reid gets on top off a clinch, but Matsui reverses him over to side mount. Reid gets a half-guard back, and Matsui stays busy to end the round.

Announcers all agree that Matsui’s got the fight, probably 30-27, and I’m with them, but somehow the judges make it a majority draw. No idea how you could score that fight a draw – Reid did do a lot of damage, admittedly – but he took a lot of damage too and Matsui kept him on his back for the majority of the fight. Regardless of the result, the fight was a largely entertaining one, mainly thanks to the energy and the non-stop action that both guys bought.

Middleweight Fight: Mark Weir vs Akira Shoji

Shoji was another old Pride veteran they brought in here, after some time away from the Japanese promotion. His opponent? The resurgent Mark Weir, coming off two of the more impressive performances of his career, with his last one being a knockout of Shoji’s countryman Kyosuke Sasaki.

They circle to open and then Weir lands a BIG LEFT HIGH KICK!~! Shoji hits the deck instantly, and Weir follows up with some punches for the stoppage.

Wow, that was almost as quick as Weir’s knockout of Eugene Jackson! That kick landed FLUSH, awesome shot from Weir. This was actually enough to earn him a crack at Pride, too, although he lost his fight there to Denis Kang.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Vitor Belfort vs Antony Rea

The biggest international star to grace Cage Rage thus far, Belfort was looking to rebuild himself here following a disappointing 2005 up to this point with losses to Tito Ortiz and Alistair Overeem. His opponent, Rea, was 3-0 coming into this and looked to make a statement in a big step up in class for him. BIG pop for Belfort upon arrival, no surprise there, while Rea comes out chewing his face off like he’s done a few lines in the back pre-fight. Obviously he hasn’t, but it always cracks me up when fighters come out chewing like that.

They press very tentatively to open, neither guy wanting to make the first move, and the crowd begin to get restless. Finally Rea swings, but Belfort lands a crisp left hand counter and grabs a guillotine, pulling guard to close it off. Rea works free, and not much happens inside Belfort’s guard for a while, before Vitor rolls into an oma plata! Rea looks in trouble from the hold, but manages to roll free, only for Belfort to get on top and try the guillotine again. It looks tighter this time, but Rea manages to escape, and then looks to pass the guard before standing up. Belfort throws a high kick, and Rea blocks, but then Vitor comes forward with a left hook and a heavy uppercut to stun the Frenchman. Rea manages to survive and gets a clinch, but then they break, and circle with Rea throwing some low kicks as the round ends.

Rea throws some more kicks to open the 2nd, but walks right into a big left uppercut that stuns him again. Vitor backs off for some reason even though Antony looks wobbly, but then checks a kick and hurts him with a straight left. Takedown attempt from Rea is blocked, and then he comes forward, right into another hard left uppercut from Belfort that puts him down and out this time.

Strong finish from Belfort, and although he outclassed Rea for the most part, he still fought a very passive fight, sitting back and waiting for Rea to come to him rather than being the aggressor. Not quite as impressive as you’d expect Vitor Belfort in Cage Rage to be, but still cool to see nonetheless.

Cage Rage World Middleweight Title: Anderson Silva vs Curtis Stout

Big main event here as Stout was coming off three consecutive highlight-reel knockouts, all using his brutal left hook, while Silva, clearly the more skilled of the two from a technical standpoint, had picked apart both Lee Murray and Jorge Rivera in his appearances thus far. Announcers figure Silva has the skill advantage, but can’t allow Stout to land the left hook, and I’d agree with that.

They begin, and Stout looks for a low kick, but Silva comes in with a big left high kick and a swift takedown to mount! Stout rolls his way into top position in Silva’s guard, and tries to work, but Silva shifts his hips nicely and then gets a triangle. Stout tries a slam, but Silva hooks his leg to prevent it and they end up coming back to standing position in a clinch. Silva lands some foot stomps, and then blocks a suplex attempt and ends up on top in side mount. It looks for a second like Silva’s going for the anaconda choke, but he reconsiders and ends up staying in Stout’s half-guard. Silva lands some rights, before Stout ties him up and gets full guard, but after a few moments Silva creates some distance, and works the body and the head with some rights. Stout suddenly looks hurt, and Silva stands up, and drops some HEAVY RIGHTS down onto the challenger, hitting him over and over. Stout tries to roll for an escape, but Silva keeps pounding away, and a few more heavy shots to the chin knock Stout completely out cold, right at the end of the round.

Another successful title defense, another devastating performance from Silva. Like his other Cage Rage fights too, this was a flawless gameplan from the Brazilian, as he quickly and effectively closed the distance on the dangerous banger Stout, never gave him a chance to land his deadly left hook, and when it was time, he finished the fight emphatically on the ground with strikes, something I can’t recall seeing from him before. The man is truly a walking highlight reel, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that he’s as enjoyable to watch as any other fighter in MMA today.

-Ian Freeman sums up the show, and we roll the credits.

Final Thoughts....

Another impressive outing for Cage Rage, in what was their biggest show thus far in terms of publicity, big names on the card, and production. The only criticism I’d give is that they probably could’ve cut a few more fights from the DVD – thirteen fights is a lot for anyone to sit through, and really Mason/Guisha, Berry/Goddard, and Bray/Whitear weren’t really needed – but that’s a very small point to be honest. Lindland, Belfort and Silva give the card added name recognition and there’s nothing here that’s not at least watchable and fun, so the show is definitely worth a strong recommendation. One of the best shows Cage Rage has ever put on.

Coming Soon....

Pride: 18.
UFC: 63, 64, 65 and 66.
Cage Rage: 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19.
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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