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King Of The Cage 28: More Punishment review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on January 15, 2010, 2:35 PM

King Of The Cage 28: More Punishment

Reno, Nevada

-So now Iím caught up on most of the big shows at the minute, itís time to dig out those cheap DVDs I picked up and finally look at some of these old King Of The Cage shows. First thing to note Ė not only are these pretty low-rent in terms of production (particularly the ones in the massive box sets) but theyíre also really cheap to buy Ė I think I got the ĎUndergroundí set for less than £10 even. So really, even if youíre getting absolute rubbish on 80% of the discs, a couple of really good fights makes it all worth it. With that in mind Iím not going to be grading the shows in the same way as I would a UFC/PRIDE/StrikeForce/DREAM show Ė Iíll still give it a star rating, but as itís a box set I can hardly ďrecommendĒ one single show, and of course youíve got to bear in mind that a ***** KOTC show isnít going to be anywhere close to a ***** UFC show, for example. A highly ranked KOTC would be one with a ton of guys who ended up in the big shows, with exciting fights and not much crap on the lower card. A lower ranked one meanwhile would have pretty much all low-level guys in horrid, sloppy fights. Hopefully though, as the majority of these shows are pre-TUF boom (2001-2005) when KOTC actually had a lot of good fighters, weíll get more good than bad. Iíll also be doing the shows in no particular order, just picking a random one out of the box to look at. So itís total pot luck on whether itís a good or bad one.

-Your hosts are, well, I have no idea as we donít get an introduction bit at the start of the DVD. Iím not very good at working out voices, either.

Lightweight Fight: Khomkrit Niimi vs Dan Mann

Never heard of either one of these two. What Iíll do for these KOTC DVDs is, if someone really impresses me then Iíll take a look at what became of them. If not, itís just a fight. Not much to differentiate between the two outside of Mannís pink hair.

Mann comes out with a flying kick but Niimi grabs a clinch and looks for the takedown. Mann stuffs it but Niimi manages to get him down. They scramble all over the cage and the announcer calls Mann the ĎEnglish Bad Boyí so obviously heís a UKer. Finally Niimi manages to get him down into full guard. Mann kicks him off, but gives his back in the process, but Niimi canít get his hooks in and Mann works back to his feet and looks for a takedown of his own. It looks like Niimi might be setting up for a standing kimura, then he switches to a guillotine as Mann continues to look for a takedown. He manages to get Niimi down against the fence in guard, and Mann drops a couple of good forearms onto him. Sudden armbar attempt from Niimi and it looks pretty tight as Mann tries to roll free, and sure enough the Brit escapes to his feet in a clinch, landing a knee. Good knee and a couple of uppercuts stun Niimi but Mann doesnít really follow up. Takedown from Niimi now and he manages to pass to side mount as Mann tries to elevate him using butterfly hooks. Some good punches land for Niimi as he uses the knee-on-belly position to get to full mount, but the round ends before he can finish.

Second round and Mann looks exhausted, swinging a couple of wild punches before throwing a slow knee than Niimi catches and uses to take him down. Mann gets pinned into the fence with Niimi standing above him almost in full mount, and from there he lands some good punches. Mann works to kick him away to slow him down, but Niimi goes back to side mount and continues to pound away. Full mount for Niimi now and Mann is just looking to hold on. Niimi traps an arm and really opens up with punches, and thatís enough for referee Larry Landless to stop the fight.

Decent little fight in the first round until Mann completely ran out of gas in the second round and basically got pounded.

Welterweight Fight: Casey Balkenbrush vs Steve Renaud

Never heard of Renaud but he looks like a mean character and heís got TASSLES ON HIS ARMS like the Ultimate Warrior. Nice! Balkenbrush trains with the rAw Team (Frank Triggís old group) according to the DVD.

Renaud throws out some feints before Balkenbrush charges in, and they exchange some wild strikes before Renaud gets a takedown. It might be an illusion if Balkenbrush is small, but Renaud looks like a HUGE 170lbs. Balkenbrush gets full guard, and as Renaud tries for some ground-and-pound, Balkenbrush swings his hips up into an armbar and gets the tapout.

I guess looking like a monster never does guarantee you success in MMA, hey. Renaud got tooled there.

Welterweight Fight: Jake Short vs Paul Purcell

Iím sure Iíve heard of Short for some reason, but a quick check on his record reveals nothing except losses to top fighters like Roger Huerta and Diego Sanchez in fights Iíve never seen. No idea then. Definitely never seen Purcell before.

Purcell swings a right hook to open that Short ducks, but as he goes for a takedown Purcell reverses and gets a headlock throw to side mount. Short looks to scramble, but canít escape to his feet. Quick reversal from Short though and heís on top after a takedown of his own. Suddenly Short opens up with a BIG FLURRY OF PUNCHES and thatís it as Purcell covers up and wants out.

Didnít last long but to be fair it was a pretty explosive little fight.

Heavyweight Fight: Bo Cantrell vs Rick Collup

Cantrell is the blond-moustached guy best known for either losing to Kimbo Slice in his MMA debut, or losing to Brad Imes via gogoplata, make your pick. Meanwhile, Iím sure I remember Collup losing in terrible fashion to someone on an older KOTC show I reviewed a year or two back.

Round One begins and Cantrell rocks him right away with a flurry, but Collup comes back with a double leg takedown. He gets to side mount, and Cantrell holds an ineffective guillotine from there as Collup works the body. Collup tries to wall-walk over the fence to pass to the other side, but puts himself in half-guard in doing so and now the choke looks a little more dangerous. You can see from Collupís face that itís not tight though and soon after he pops free and begins to rain down with forearm strikes to the head with Cantrellís arm trapped under Collupís leg. Collup continues to land the forearms, cutting Boís head open, but he doesnít look really hurt by them or anything. Collup decides to stand over him with Cantrell staying on his back, and why referee Cecil Peoples hasnít forced him to stand yet I donít know. Collup eventually drops down and looks to take the back, but Cantrell reverses to his feet in a scramble and gets a takedown to mount! Some decent punches land for Bo as Collup looks to hold on, and is that a Pepsi tattoo on Collupís left arm? Reversal from Collup puts him back on top in Cantrellís guard and both men look tired at this stage. Collup stacks up and lands a few weak blows, and the round ends with them laying in the guard.

These guys are gassed going into the second round. Collup shoots right away, but gets caught in a guillotine and Cantrell drops to his knees and gives it a squeeze for the tapout.

Nothing to see there; it was a sloppy fight and both men gassed fast, but itís Heavyweight KOTC, what do you really expect?

Heavyweight Fight: Jason Coronado vs Rocky Batastini

Batastini basically defines journeyman, as heís fought everyone from Heath Herring to Seth Petruzelli to Paul Buentello to Mike Whitehead, of course losing to all of them practically. No clue about Coronado Iím afraid, sorry.

Rocky comes out and throws a kick, then looks for a takedown and manages to slam Coronado down. Big punches for Batastini on the ground but theyíre not really landing cleanly and Coronado escapes to his feet. Rocky looks for the takedown again, but Coronado elbows the back to block and then punches at the body as Batastini keeps trying to get him down. Rocky keeps driving for a single leg, but Coronado does a good job of sprawling to avoid and continues to elbow and punch the body. Eventually he works to escape out to the side, landing some shots to the head, but the action slows down and referee Steve Mazzagatti calls a stand-up. Batastini with a leg kick from the restart, and he follows by decking Coronado with a big right hand! Rocky looks to follow up, but Coronado survives and manages to scramble to his feet, and in doing so he takes the back and gets one hook in before applying a rear naked choke for the tapout.

Bit more energetic than the last fight but it was still pretty sloppy overall. Not a horrible fight, though.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Art Santore vs Sean Gray

Santoreís a pretty well-known guy on the KOTC circuit, and heís easily recognizable as heís always got a wild beard/moustache combo going on and tends to wear loud suits and large hats to the cage ala Shonie Carter. He actually made it as high as the 2006 version of the WFA, losing to Ivan Salaverry on their one PPV, but then washed out of the Zuffa WEC in 2007. Gray meanwhile is a journeyman probably best remembered (in my eyes anyway) for a loss to Quinton Jackson early in Rampageís career.

Santore comes out swinging but Gray quickly gets a bodylock and drives him into the fence. Man, the camera angle is AWFUL here, like a sky-cam looking down on the top of the cage. They exchange some shots inside the clinch and muscle for position, and it looks like Grayís getting the better of it as he pounds at the body. Knee to the head looks to have Art stunned, but Gray slips upon breaking off and doesnít capitalize. Nice double leg from Gray puts Santore on his back in full guard. Gray looks to pound away, but Santore gets an armbar from the bottom. Good job done by Gray to avoid it but he winds up stuck in a triangle shortly after. Gray punches his way out though and looks to have Santore hurt for a second, but he manages to compose himself and defends in the guard. Santore looks for the triangle again, but this time Gray shrugs it off and passes to side mount. Santore spins but Gray looks for a toehold, and it looks pretty tight, but Santore punches him and manages to slip free, escaping to his feet in the clinch. Gray breaks and comes forward swinging, but a counterpunch slows him up and Santore looks to follow up. Gray drops for a single leg and winds up pulling guard, but Santore passes to half-guard before the round ends. Good round actually.

2nd round begins and Santore misses with a head kick. Good right hand lands for him though as Gray looks visibly slower. Combo from Santore lands and he follows with a takedown to guard. Gray looks to tie him up from the guard, but Santore breaks free and lands with some solid punches. Much slower action in this round, however. Santore tries to pass, but Gray retains full guard, and goes for an armbar that Santore avoids. This is largely a stalemate and sure enough Herb Dean calls a stand-up. Nice combo from Gray has Santore backing up, but Art fires back with a left hook and they clinch up. Gray looks for a takedown, but gives his back and Santore punches away at the head before Gray flips over into half-guard and looks for a kimura. Great job from Santore to avoid that and he manages to take full mount. Punches land for Santore and Gray is in deep trouble. Gray gives his back, but Santore only has one hook in and ends up going back to full mount. Round ends there.

Third and final round now and Santore throws a left hand into a clinch, but Gray breaks with an uppercut. Head kick misses for Santore but Gray walks into a counterpunch and Santore follows by looking for the double leg. Takedown from Santore and he mounts and pounds away for the stoppage as Herb Deanís decided Gray isnít defending. I wonít disagree as I donít think Gray was getting out there.

That was a perfectly acceptable fight actually. Some good back-and-forth action with some nice reversals even if both men got a little tired as the fight went on. Well, they did put on quite a high pace to be fair. Decent stuff.

Middleweight Fight: Joey Villasenor vs James Fanshier

Villasenor was one of the last really good fighters to be produced by KOTC along with the likes of Faber and Danzig, before the TUF boom meant that anyone half-decent was snapped up by UFC (and upstart promotions like StrikeForce and EXC, etc) and pretty much finished KOTC as a solid mid-level promotion. Here he was 9-3, with his most notable losses coming in the WFA to Jermaine Andre (that horrible fight that saw a freak break to Joeyís ankle) and a submission loss to DAVID THE SOUL ASSASSIN TERRELL!~! Fanshier meanwhile is your classic KOTC journeyman who I remember having a great fight on one of the older KOTCs I reviewed.

First round begins and Fanshier throws a front kick, but Joey takes him down and right away gets the back. Fanshier scrambles free and escapes to his feet though, and lands a glancing high kick. Both men are in bright yellow shorts and along with the yellow canvas this is hurting my eyes. They clinch up and Joey forces him into the fence with some knees, and they muscle for position along the cage. Short break off and Fanshier misses with a head kick, and Villasenor comes back into the clinch again. They exchange some knees and then break, before Fanshier throws some shots back into another clinch. Right from Joey breaks off and Fanshier throws some more kicks. Clinch and trip follow for Villasenor and he lands in half-guard. Mount for Joey and he lands a big right before Fanshier gives his back and escapes out the back door. Clinch again and Joey looks for another trip, but canít get it and they break off. Left hook from Villasenor into another clinch and they continue to exchange from close quarters. Round ends shortly thereafter.

Second round and they exchange some wild strikes into the clinch, with Fanshier throwing some crazy kicks. They continue to exchange in the clinch with Fanshier even throwing some odd double-punches. Trip from Villasenor puts Fanshier on his back again, this time in half-guard. Side mount for Joey but Fanshier scrambles again and ends up trapped in a front facelock. Knee to the body from Villasenor and he goes for a guillotine, then spins to the back and gets the hooks in, climbing up the fence to get the position. Is that even legal? Joey locks up the rear naked choke though and pulls him down, and it looks like Fanshierís out cold. Yep. Man that was a cool finish!

Another solid little fight and the finish was quite something with Villasenorís monkey impression, clambering up the fence to take the back. Got a bit dull in the clinch position all the time, but again it was a perfectly solid mid-level fight.

Welterweight Fight: Drew Fickett vs Dennis Hallman

The veteran Hallman had won a couple of fights in smaller shows to bounce back from the controversial ďlossĒ he suffered to Frank Trigg in the WFA coming into this, while Fickett had built himself a solid 16-2 record mainly in Arizonaís Rage In The Cage promotion. Looking at his record, on paper Hallman was by far the toughest opponent Fickett had ever faced up to this point. I still maintain, by the way, that the guy is a dead ringer for John Cena.

Touch of gloves to begin and then Hallman throws a high kick and gets a standing guillotine. A knee to the head from the position drops Fickett to the ground, and Hallman goes for a keylock that Fickett manages to escape. Into side mount for Hallman but Fickett does a tremendous job of avoiding any offense Hallman might try and manoeuvres back into full guard. Hallman stacks up in the guard and looks to pass, but Fickett hits a reversal and gets on top in Hallmanís guard. Armbar attempt from Hallman and it looks locked in, but somehow Fickett rolls out and manages an escape, getting back into Hallmanís guard. Fickett works inside the guard with some short elbows, but Hallman prevents him from passing and then looks for a neck crank variant that Fickett works his head free of. Good elbow from Fickett but the action slows down and the ref calls the stand-up. Left hook into a clinch from Fickett and he goes for a throw, doesnít get it, but still puts Hallman on his back. Hallman goes for an arm again and uses the attempt to almost take Fickettís back, but Fickett escapes and lands some punches right on the bell.

Second round begins and Fickett wades into a clinch with a flurry. He looks to trip Hallman down, but Dennis defends and takes a couple of knees to the body. Good knee from Fickett and he lands some more punches before getting a takedown to half-guard. Hallman quickly hip escapes into full guard. Action slows a little as Fickett works with some ground-and-pound, and then Drew stands and calls Hallman to join him. Fickett wades back into the clinch, but this time Hallman blocks the takedown and lands a solid knee to the midsection. Looks like someoneís cut and indeed, itís Fickett, under the left eye. Ref calls time to check the cut and they restart, and Drew lands a lunging right hand. Flurry from Fickett and he clinches, but Hallman trips him down to half-guard and works away with punches. Elbows land for Hallman and he tries to pass to side mount, before dropping a good shot over the top as Drew kicks him away. Fickett does a good job to get back to guard, and the round finishes there. This is a solid, competitive fight.

Third and final round and Hallman narrowly misses a wild spinning backfist! Fickett clinches and forces him into the cage, before dropping for a takedown and getting it to half-guard. Drew looks to pass and drops some elbows, and then slips into side mount. Elbows from Fickett and he works into full mount. Fickett looks tired at this stage but still manages to land with some pretty hard elbows in the mount as Hallman looks a little stuck. Hip escape lets him get back to half-guard though. Fickett decides to bring the fight back to standing, and Hallman misses with the spinning backfist and pulls guard. Fickett works into half-guard though, but Hallman works back to full guard. I think Hallman may be gassed here. Some strong punches land for Fickett and then he brings the fight up again, but then he closes the distance again and works for the takedown. Ref separates them as we get a stalemate, and now Hallman stuffs a takedown and hurts Drew with punches! Fickett manages to get hold of him though and uses a head-and-arm throw to get him to the ground, landing in Hallmanís guard. Armbar attempt from Hallman and this is locked in DEEP, but Fickett holds on and manages to survive the end of the round!

Weíre going to the judges, and itís a split decision for Drew Fickett! Pretty close fight to call in the end actually, as Fickett looked to have it won, but Hallman almost stole the third round late with the flurry and the deep armbar. Still, I think the right man got the decision. Hallman has continued to fight all over the place with mixed success since this, while Fickett won a further seven fights before making it to the UFC where he saw mixed results before a real slide in form in mid-2008. This was a pretty solid fight, back-and-forth action throughout and you could tell by the lack of sloppiness that these were two of the better fighters on the card.

Middleweight Fight: Benji Radach vs Gustavo ĎXimuí Machado

ĎXimuí is one of those guys that Iím surprised hasnít made it into one of the big shows yet as heís been around forever and has a pretty solid record Ė coming into this one, for instance, heíd beaten future UFC title contender Nate Quarry. He trains with Babalu and Pe De Pano at the Gracie Barra Combat Academy if Iím recalling correctly although like Babalu, here he was still with Ruas Vale Tudo. Radach had just finished a three-fight stint with the UFC that saw him beat Nick Serra and Steve Berger (though that was turned into a No Contest) before dropping a match to Sean Sherk via cut stoppage. Not sure why he wasnít brought back after that although to be fair guys used to take fights on the KOTC circuit and stuff between UFC stints all the time back then so maybe he was just waiting for another call.

We get underway and both men come out swinging before Ximu looks for a takedown. Radach stuffs it and then gets a takedown of his own, where Ximu works a butterfly guard. Radach drops some good punches inside the guard, but Machado looks pretty calm and then looks to tie up an arm. Benji works to half-guard though and lands some really hard shots as Machado tries to kick him away. Radach stands over the guard and from there a BRUTAL left-right combo lands clean and he follows up with more punches that stiffen Ximu up. Man, that was a seriously vicious knockout.

Very impressive showing for Radach to knock off a tough fighter like Machado so easily, as he just had too much power for the Brazilian and never let him really gain a strong position on the ground. I guess Benji probably wouldíve been on his way back to the UFC following this, but he took a fight with a total unknown called Danny Lafever to settle a personal grudge (I think it was something to do with Radach hitting on Lafeverís wife) and ended up being knocked out cold in under a minute, and his career never really recovered until a 2007 resurgence in the IFL and a run in Strike Force last year.

-And a highlight reel closes things out, complete with credits that STILL donít name the announcers. God Damnit.

Final Thoughts....

Pretty solid effort for KOTC. The crap (Cantrell-Collup, Batastini-Coronado) was relatively short and painless and the top few matches were pretty good, with competitive fights between Hallman and Fickett and Gray and Santore, and two real highlight-reel finishes for Joey Villasenor and Benji Radach. Decent show overall.

Best Fight: Hallman-Fickett
Worst Fight: Cantrell-Collup

Overall Rating: ***1/4

Coming Soon....

UFC: 103-107, Fight Night 20
WEC: 45 and 46
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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