Off the Hook - By Joe Reilly

Cage Rage 7: The Battle Of Britain Review

This past weekend, one of the most anticipated MMA cards ever to happen on English soil took place in the Wembley Conference Centre in London. In fact, the only other MMA line-up to ever happen in Europe that could have possibly appeared better on paper was UFC 38: Brawl At The Hall back in July of 2002. However, a bout on paper or whole cards on paper isn’t always the accurate indication of how a show necessarily turns out. So the question is, did this tremendous line-up live up to the billing? Well, read on and find out…

Cage Rage 7: The Battle Of Britain – Saturday 10th of July 2004

This past weekend, one of the most anticipated MMA cards ever to happen on English soil took place in the Wembley Conference Centre in London. In fact, the only other MMA line-up to ever happen in Europe that could have possibly appeared better on paper was UFC 38: Brawl At The Hall back in July of 2002. However, a bout on paper or whole cards on paper isn’t always the accurate indication of how a show necessarily turns out. So the question is, did this tremendous line-up live up to the billing? Well, read on and find out.

Dave Elliot vs. Philly Sans (Lightweight – 155 lbs)

After a very original opening set of a choreographed fighting/dance sequence put on by Team Elite (the promoters’ fight team) the show was ready to get underway. If you’re looking at the title of this bout saying “What? I thought Dave Roche was supposed to be fighting Dave Elliot?” If you’re wondering what happened. Well, a car crash happened. Unfortunately, Dave Roche was forced to pull out of this bout, as he was involved in a car crash on the way to London from Holyhead.

Dave suffered a very unfortunate injury on his left eye, which was caused by broken glass from the windshield of the car he was in. Dave then had to have surgery late on the Friday evening before the event. When Dave Roche got to the arena during the actual show, his left eye was bandaged up and he informed me that there would be no permanent injury and he expected the healing period to last for at least a few weeks. With that news update out of the way, let’s get on to the actual fight.

Both men came out to the centre of the Octagon and briefly felt each other out on the feet. Sans initiated first by landing two consecutive Thai right low kicks to Dave Elliot’s left leg. Elliot then didn’t hesitate to bring the action to the ground, but Sans reacted by gripping Elliot’s neck for a Guillotine choke. However, Sans could not capitalise, as Elliot stopped Sans from pulling guard, which left Sans with very little leverage to pull off the choke.

Elliot then quickly passed Sans’ guard and suddenly transitioned to a nice solid Armbar. Elliot’s execution of the submission was perfect, as he had Sans’ arm fully extended, which forced him to tap out after 34 seconds into the opening round. Elliot did indeed make quick work of Sans, but Sans stepped in on one day’s notice in fairness and Elliot was just too ready considering he’d been training for a fight all along. If anyone wondered before the fight why they call Dave ‘Speedy’, they certainly didn’t have to figure it out after the fight. In the end, Dave Elliot won by Armbar Submission in Round 1.

Xavier Foupa-Pokam vs. Paul Daley (Middleweight – 185 lbs)

If any fight on the card had slugfest written all over it, it was this one. Pokam brought very reputable Muay Thai skills to his fight and some good Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills also. Daley on the other hand told me before the fight that he hadn’t been really working much Muay Thai at all for this fight. Instead he focused more on his Boxing and Wrestling. As soon as referee Grant Waterman started the fight, both men came out looking to duke it out on the feet.

Daley immediately threw his hands once Pokam came into range and Pokam instantly responded with very quick kicks and knees. It wasn’t long before close range trading brought the fighters into a clinch. Pokam continually looked to establish his Muay Thai clinch and when he successfully established it, boy he let those knees fly. So much so, that a few of them to Daley’s jaw rocked the Rough House star from Nottingham.

Pokam continued to unleash his vicious knees forcing Daley to try and grab on to Pokam’s attacking leg to prevent a further barrage. This made Pokam back out of the clinch, as he didn’t fancy the prospect of being taken down. After this, both men took a brief breather, which allowed Daley to recover. Daley then pressed forward and as Pokam came to meet him for another exchange, Daley landed a flurry of punches to the jaw of Pokam, which clearly rocked the French man.

Pokam tried to back away to recover, but Daley chased him down and opened up with another barrage of punches, which made Pokam’s legs buckle, as he dropped to the mat. Daley didn’t hesitate and soon followed Pokam to the mat landing some flying punches that were reminiscent of something from Robbie Lawler. The referee did a good job however and stopped the fight before Daley could attempt any further ruthless aggression.

I’d seen Paul Daley fight a couple of times before this bout and I knew he was explosive, but anyone who hadn’t seen the guy fight up until now had to have come to the realisation that he indeed lived up to his nickname ‘Semtex’. Paul Daley won by TKO in Round 1.

Jeremy Bailey vs. Ricky Andrews (Welterweight – 170 lbs)

I thought this was a very interesting fight going into it. You had Jeremy ‘Bad Boy’ Bailey as his usual self, acting quite cocky and entertaining the vast majority of local fans. On the other hand, you had quiet Ricky Andrews, who kept most of his thoughts to himself except for the fact that he admitted that Jeremy Bailey was as an inspiration for him to actually start fighting. Very peculiar contrast there, the irony of it, one guy claiming he’s gonna KO the other guy Baroni style, while the other guy says he has nothing but admiration for him.

From the get go, Andrews was persistent to get the fight to the ground, so Bailey tried to pull guard and go for a Guillotine choke. It wasn’t long before Andrews escaped and passed Bailey’s guard. Andrews then succeeded in landing some good strikes from the top position until Bailey was able to recover by holding Andrews down from rising up to strike him. This resulted in a stalemate position, which led to the referee standing the fight back up.

It wasn’t long before the fight went back to the ground, as Bailey decided to slam Andrews down back to the mat, but Andrews was able to slap on a Guillotine choke of his own on the way down and while on his back he just kept adjusting it to finally get the tap. Andrews succeeded in silencing Bailey by beating his once idol. Bailey was gracious in defeat however by claiming that he was disappointed with his own performance, but he could not take anything away from Andrews and commended him on his performance. Overall, it was Ricky Andrews winning by Submission via Guillotine choke in Round 1.

(Cage Rage Welterweight Championship – 170 lbs)
(c) Ronaldo Campos vs. Paul Jenkins

This was another interesting fight considering that it was a rematch and it was also for the Cage Rage Welterweight Championship. Paul ‘Hands Of Stone’ Jenkins won their first bout, but Ronaldo ‘Choke’ Campos was coming into this fight as the defending Champion. Campos came into the fight appearing very focused saying he would do his best to win considering he lost their previous fight, while Paul Jenkins was his usual colourful self by saying that he wanted to apologise in advance to all Ronaldo’s family for any damage he may cause him.

The first round of the fight consisted of mostly both fighters sizing each other up on the feet. Towards the end of the first round, Campos tried to take the fight to the ground by constantly going for the takedown, but Jenkins kept scrambling back up. Overall, Campos just edged the first round by 10 – 9 in my opinion due to controlling where the fight took place on the ground and Campos scored some takedowns to get Jenkins there in the first place.

In the second round, the majority of it stayed on the ground. However, this round was dead even at 10 – 10. Campos would go for a submission attempt and Jenkins would either respond with a submission attempt of his own or by strikes. I couldn’t give the round to either fighter, so it was even in my opinion.

In the third round, Jenkins played a smart game plan by standing back up from the ground when the opportunity came about. It then came to a point where both men stood toe to toe briefly, but once Jenkins connected with some body shots, Campos didn’t want none. Campos then made a foolish mistake more than once. When Jenkins hurt him with strikes on the feet, he’d retreat back to the mat and ask Jenkins come down to the ground. Jenkins knew better and backed away, so the referee had to stand Campos back up.

When Campos stood up Jenkins came in with more hard body shots, which led to Campos falling deliberately back to the mat, which made the referee intervene and stop the fight. Campos complained, but he really only had himself to blame, as his tactics were reminiscent of Carlos Barreto when he fought Ian Freeman in Hook-N-Shoot. The bottom line is if you go down after getting hit like that, the fight will get stopped. Campos fought very one dimensional in the third and final round which led to his demise in this fight. The official decision was Paul Jenkins by TKO in Round 3.

Damien Riccio vs. Jean Francois Lenogue (Middleweight – 185 lbs)

The Cage Rage promoters were billing this fight as the battle to determine the best Middleweight in France. Now, Jess Liaudin had something to say about that at the press conference, as he would be representing France proudly later on in the card against England’s Matt Ewin. Another thing special about this fight was that to the best of the promoters’ knowledge it would be the first time anywhere in the world that two French fighters would fight each other under pro MMA rules, as pro MMA is illegal in France.

The first round was all about the clinch in this fight. It was apparent that Riccio wanted to get the fight to the ground somehow as he aggressively pressed Lenogue up against the fence in the clinch. Riccio then tried to work for double under hooks in the clinch. He was having no such look though, as Lenogue seemed to have his pummelling in the clinch down to a tee. Then the crowd cringed as Riccio began foot stomping Lenogue to distract him so he could secure the double under hooks.

By the sound of those stomps, Riccio was doing more than distracting him. The impact of the stomps gave me the impression that Lenogue would either end up with broken toes or else very badly bruised. The round then ended and I scored it 10 – 9 to Riccio based on two main components. He was the aggressor and he had to have damaged Lenogue’s feet with the foot stomps.

In the second round, Riccio came out aggressively again and clinched up with Lenogue. However, Lenogue was able to turn the tables by landing some high knees to the face of Riccio while both men pummelled for the under hooks. Then Lenogue managed to get hold of Riccio’s neck with a Muay Thai clinch and he landed a solid knee to the jaw of Riccio, which not only rocked Riccio, but appeared to cut his nose too. As soon as the fighters came to a stalemate position in the clinch, the referee temporarily stopped the fight to examine the cut Riccio had suffered.

After the cut was cleaned up, Riccio came back out and decided to trade with Lenogue. Riccio actually caught Lenogue with a couple of big overhand punches that really rocked Lenogue, but he managed to recover by clinching with Riccio. Towards the end of the round, Lenogue broke out of the clinch and ended the round with a good flurry of strikes that definitely seem to take the wind out of Riccio’s sails. I had to give the second round to Lenogue by a 10 – 9 margin.

It was now 19 – 19, even Stephen, it would come down to who wanted it most in this round. Most of the third round was a constant battle in the clinch, but the main difference maker was that Lenogue was able to land more strikes and he was the aggressor. Both fighters battled it out till the final bell sounded and I had to give the round to Lenogue by a 10 – 9 score based on Lenogue doing more damage really with his strikes than Riccio did with his. By my scoring it was 29 – 28 in favour of Lenogue and on the official scorecards, Lenogue got the unanimous decision.

Throughout the fight we got to see that Jean Francois Lenogue has excellent takedown defence, as Riccio didn’t have one single takedown in the fight despite working very diligently to achieve one. We also saw that both fighters had incredible heart, particularly Riccio who took more than his fair share of punishment, but still didn’t go down. One thing I will say though is I believe Riccio would be better suited in the Welterweight division, as he is fairly short for the Middleweight division, which seemed to hurt him standing up in the range department.

Riccio always maintains that he likes to fight bigger guys because they are slower. Well, that may be true, but the fact he couldn’t take Lenogue down could have attributed to the size difference in Lenogue’s favour, not to take anything away from the technique of Lenogue. Overall, Jean Francois Lenogue won the fight by Unanimous Decision after three rounds.

Sammy Schiavo vs. Robbie Olivier (Lightweight – 155 lbs)

I think it’s fair to say that this bout shocked a lot of people in actually how it went down. Sammy Schiavo claimed before this fight that Robbie Olivier would wake up in the dentist chair. Well, one thing’s for sure, Schiavo was deadly serious. As soon as the ref got the bout underway, Schiavo came lunging in with a huge overhand right, which knocked Olivier down.

Schiavo followed Olivier down to the mat and ended up in his guard. It wasn’t long before Olivier turned the tide and got out the back door taking Schiavo’s back. Olivier then sunk in the rear naked choke. Schiavo tried to resist, but he was caught and he was forced to tap out. As Olivier stood up in celebration, Schiavo shook his head in disgust and walked out of the Octagon immediately.

Going into this fight I have to admit, I favoured Schiavo, as Olivier came across in his previous fights as someone who seemed to use more brute strength than technique when it came to the groundwork and I thought Schiavo might even out muscle him in that department also, but man was I wrong. Olivier showed some great Jiu Jitsu skills, as he looked like he really worked on that area of his game, which shocked Sammy Schiavo along with many other people. In the end, Robbie Olivier won the bout by Rear naked choke in Round 1.

Lee Murray Interview

During the event UFC Middleweight contender Lee Murray came out to the Octagon to do a brief interview. Lee Murray re-iterated his situation of having visa problems preventing him from competing in the USA until his current court case was resolved. He said that the court case could potentially go on until November of this year. He also stated that he currently has a three-fight deal with the UFC, but since he can’t fight in the USA until he resolves his court case, he will fight in Cage Rage, as he hopes to fight Anderson Silva at Cage Rage 8.

(Cage Rage Featherweight Championship – 145 lbs)
(c) Leigh Remedios vs. Emmanuelle Fernandez

Not to take anything away from any of the other fights, but I was really looking forward to see this one in particular. On one hand you had a UFC veteran, who has made a name for himself in both the Featherweight and Lightweight divisions internationally in Leigh Remedios and on the other side you had one of the most impressive up and coming Featherweights in Emmanuelle Fernandez. Out of all the fighter entrances of the night, some normal and some not so normal, I think it’s fair to say that Leigh Remedios got most original.

He came down to the Octagon on a scooter, no, not to be confused with a mo-ped, an actual scooter. Not only that, the guy came out to Abba. When both these fighters were preparing for war Fernandez looked calm, while Remedios looked high on adrenaline. When the fight got underway and both fighters neared the centre of the Octagon, it was amazing to see the size difference between the two. Both guys made the Featherweight limit at the weigh-ins, but Remedios looked barely there.

Remedios is known for cutting some serious weight for his fights and putting most of it back on by fight time. By fight time, Leigh looked like he’d put on the best part of a stone (14 pounds) in weight since the weigh-in. It just didn’t look right seeing the obvious weight difference between both fighters as they neared each other in the centre of the Octagon. Initially, Fernandez looked slightly intimidated by Remedios’ size advantage. The first round was a good mix of standing and groundwork. At first, Remedios’ presence alone seemed to be too much for Fernandez, as he looked stronger in the clinch than Fernandez and he looked to be striking more effectively too.

Remedios even surprised me in the grappling department, as he managed to takedown Fernandez despite Fernandez’s Judo prowess. Remedios also had a nice Omoplata attempt, but Fernandez was able to roll out of it. Fernandez also got a takedown in the round, but overall it was a 10 –9 round to Remedios from my standpoint.

In Round 2, Remedios came out looking to resume his edge and he successfully took Fernandez down. However, from the word ‘go’ Fernandez was very active from the bottom and went for constant submission attempts. Fernandez had a triangle choke attempt that looked very dangerous momentarily, but Remedios got out. Remedios also picked up the lighter Fernandez about a foot and a half off the mat and slammed him back down, but this did not discourage Fernandez as, he constantly went for submission attempts right to the bell, as he finished the second round strong.

I scored the second round 10 – 9 in favour of Fernandez based on his constant activity from the bottom and Remedios looked tired at the end of that round. In the beginning of the third round, Fernandez looked the more confident fighter and went right for the takedown, but Remedios reversed the takedown to end up on top. While on top Remedios didn’t achieve much however and it wasn’t long before Fernandez managed to scramble back to the feet. Once on the feet, Fernandez got the better of the striking exchanges.

So much so, that Fernandez landed a flurry of combinations of punches and kicks that definitely put him a head in the round. Fernandez continued to dictate the striking until Remedios came back late in the round and finished the round strong with some good offence on the feet, but it was too little too late from my view point and I thought Fernandez just edged a 10 – 9 round. Overall, I had it scored 29 – 28 in favour of Fernandez, but it was still a well-matched fight. In the end, the judge’s seemed to see the same and gave the unanimous decision to Emmanuelle Fernandez.

Fernandez was delighted with the result, while Remedios looked disappointed and did not seem happy with the decision. I think it’s hard not to be disappointed losing a decision unless you get dominated by your opponent, as a lot of decisions turn out to be a result of two very well matched fighters. I thought that was the case in this fight, but Fernandez still deserved the win. Leigh Remedios fights at 145 lbs and 155 lbs, but I think this fight at 145 lbs and the weight cutting may have took it’s toll on Leigh Remedios, as the speed and activity of Fernandez seemed to tire him out.

I’m sure we’ll see Remedios back at either weight class again soon, but I can’t help feeling that 155 lbs is a more appropriate weight class for him, but maybe I watched the wrong 145 lbs fight of many that Remedios has been in to judge accurately. In regards to Fernandez, this definitely seems to be his weight class and I think he needs to continue his career at this weight and try and compete with plenty more Internationally acclaimed fighters. I personally think a fight at Featherweight between Fernandez and UFC veteran Mike Brown would be a good match up, but to wrap up my words about this actual match up, Fernandez got the Unanimous Decision after three rounds of good solid action.

Matt Ewin vs. Jess Liaudin (Middleweight – 185 lbs)

As much as any, I anticipated this fight to be a very competitive bout. Initially, it looked like Liaudin wanted to stand with Ewin, but Ewin quickly spoiled that idea by taking Liaudin down. Once on the mat, Liaudin began looking for any submission openings he could get his hands on. He made many attempts at different things, but had a good solid attempt at an Omoplata. After some good submission defence by Ewin, both fighters scrambled back to the feet.

It wasn’t long before Ewin took Liaudin down again and just like before, Liaudin went after the submission attempts. Liaudin had one more solid submission attempt with a Kimura, but Ewin was able to disrupt any leverage Liaudin may have had by preventing Liaudin from closing his guard to finish off the submission. The round bell soon went and it was a tough round to score, but I edged 10 – 9 in favour of Liaudin based on his activity from the bottom, as Ewin spent much of his time on the ground reacting to Liaudin’s offence.

In the second round it wasn’t long before Ewin took the fight to the ground again. Liaudin then appeared a little tired and Ewin started to force some very effective strikes inside Liaudin’s guard. Ewin continued to land some solid strikes to the face of Liaudin and soon passed Liaudin’s guard. It then wasn’t long until the referee stopped the fight, as Liaudin’s nose was bleeding. As it turned out, it was a good stoppage by the referee, as the blood was preventing Liaudin from breathing correctly.

Ewin again showed great resistance to submission attempts and he displayed a growing confidence in his ground game, as he didn’t seem to fear Liaudin’s guard. Ewin impressed me in this fight. He’s clearly improving on every fight and it will be interesting to see how he adapts to an even tougher challenge. Ewin has fought on a variety of UK based shows and if I was a promoter looking to find Ewin a new opponent, I would try and get him a proven world class level fighter who has perhaps fought in PRIDE or the UFC. Overall, Matt Ewin was impressive winning by TKO by cut in Round 2.

(Cage Rage Lightweight Championship – 155 lbs)
(c) Jean Da Silva vs. Ollie Ellis

Before this fight, the main question on many fans minds was “Who is Ollie Ellis?” Many of us wondered about what the true ability of Ellis was, myself included. Jean Da Silva appeared fairly cocky coming into this bout asking the same question that many of the fans had done coming into this bout.

In round one it wasn’t long before both competitors scrambled to the ground. Da Silva looked good early with some big body punches from Ellis’ guard, but the tides soon change, as Ellis managed to reverse Da Silva and end up in Da Silva’s half guard. The rest of the round was spent with Ellis trying to pass Da Silva’s guard. Ellis finished out the round as the aggressor. It was a very close round and I scored it 10 – 10 even, as I couldn’t pick a distinct advantage for either fighter.

In the second round, the fight went to the ground quickly. Silva ended up in top position, but was soon reversed again by Ellis who ended up in Da Silva’s guard. This is when we would see what Ellis was made of. For the remainder of the round Da Silva couldn’t execute any solid submission attempts and Ellis managed to land some very effective strikes inside Da Silva’s guard. When the bell went, I scored the round 10 – 9 in favour of Ellis. This meant Da Silva would have to really pick things up in the final round.

In the third round, Ellis managed to take Da Silva down. Ellis tried to pass Da Silva’s tricky guard, but Da Silva maintained his guard well and remained quite active from the bottom. Towards the last minute and a half of the fight both fighters entered a dangerous leg lock exchange. Both fighters instinctively went for heel hooks. Ellis seemed to have the upper hand in this exchange at the start, as he was sitting up giving himself more leverage as he tried to apply the heel hook. Da Silva was forced on his back, which prevented him from gaining any useful leverage.

Ellis continued to work the heel hook, but Da Silva survived it. Da Silva briefly got in a position to apply more leverage with his heel hook, but Ellis scrambled out of it.

The final bell went soon after this exchange of career ending moves. Both fighters emerged to their feet raising their arms in victory. I found the last round was a tough one to score. Therefore I scored it 10 – 10 even. Overall my score was a very close 30 – 29 in favour of Ollie Ellis. However, in the end the judges at Octagon side scored the fight a Majority Draw much to the surprise of many.

I thought initially it was the wrong decision, but my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor John Kavanagh and a few other people made a valid point. They claimed that to win a championship you have to decisively beat a champion either by finishing them or winning by a good margin on the scorecards. I think it’s a very true perspective, especially from a promoter’s outlook. If you have a champion such as Jean Da Silva that’s racked up some very impressive wins as your champion, the notion of invincibility really helps your promotion and the particular division that you are talking about. Therefore, when the so-called invincible champion gets beaten convincingly alas BJ Penn and Matt Hughes you will have a great buzz surrounding the particular division and it’s champion.

What’s next for both fighters? If I had to choose I would say a rematch, but Cage Rage had already promoted Jean Da Silva’s next fight as a rematch against Leigh Remedios. It’s possible that bout may have been rethought after certain results on this card, who knows. In the end, it was ruled a Majority Draw by the judges.

(Cage Rage Light Heavyweight Championship – 205 lbs)
(c) Mark Epstein vs. Mike Bisping

Originally, Mike Bisping was scheduled to fight UFC veteran and Ruas Vale Tudo fighter Renato ‘Babulu’ Sobral. Unfortunately, Sobral had to pull out of the fight a week and a half before it due to a knee injury. However, Cage Rage Light Heavyweight Champion Mark Epstein was able to step in on short notice and therefore put his championship on the line.

I thought Bisping had an advantage going into this fight given the fact he’d been training for a UFC veteran, but I posed a question to Bisping at the press conference and that was “Fighting someone the calibre of Babulu was a big opportunity for you, are you a little discouraged going into this fight considering it’s not against Babulu?” Bisping admitted that it was disappointing regarding the circumstances that arose, but he still had a shot at winning the Cage Rage Light Heavyweight Championship and therefore he was still up for the challenge.

In Round one both fighters came out to slug. Epstein came out with a classic boxing stance while Bisping came out utilising the Muay Thai stance. Both fighters entered into a striking exchange at the first opportunity they got. In a short space of time both fighters were landing clean strikes on each other and both fighters seemed to get rocked at separate moments. Epstein soon took the advantage by successfully knocking down Bisping.

Bisping showed he was okay by reacting instantly with a guard stance from his back. Epstein followed Bisping to the ground and landed in his guard. Bisping tried to stay active from the bottom, but couldn’t really zero in on any effective submission attempts. Epstein then managed to pass the guard of Bisping. Epstein was then able to land some solid strikes from full mount. However, Bisping managed to scramble back to the feet before the end of the round. When the buzzer went, signalling the end of the round, I scored it 10 – 9 in favour of Epstein, as he clearly scored more heavily than Bisping.

In the second round, both fighters came out to resume their slugfest from the early moments of round one. Bisping soon got the better of the exchanges, as he took some good punches from Epstein, but managed to counter with some clean crisp combinations. Bisping then managed to rock Epstein and continued to land heavy strikes to the point where Epstein looked knocked out on his feet. Bisping then continued his barrage of strikes sending Epstein from one end of the octagon to the other.

Epstein’s knees still didn’t buckle. It got so bad to a point that people were shouting at the referee to stop the fight, as Epstein was clearly done. The referee eventually stopped it, but I believe he made a bad call on not stopping it sooner. Epstein’s corner men were also at fault by refusing to save their fighter. Now, I’m not one to criticise referees, judges or corner men, but there is a point where you have to draw the line, it was clear that Epstein was vastly overwhelmed and he was not intelligently defending himself.

Now, Grant Waterman is a great referee, don’t me wrong, but I made a point in asking him the day before the fight on his opinion of being the only referee on a such a huge MMA card like this. I suggested that it was a very difficult task to maintain an unblemished referee performance when you don’t have a chance to catch a few breaks during a show. Waterman didn’t agree as he felt that any inactivity between refereeing would make you more liable to make a mistake due to a lack of consistency.

I believe either theory has a case and I know Grant does his utmost best out there, so he can definitely feel satisfied with his night’s work as a whole. So, what’s next for either fighter? For Bisping, definitely a stronger test from a fighter, perhaps the calibre of Babulu if that fight can ever happen down the road. I think if Epstein keeps working on his wrestling he could be an awesome ground and pounder, as he’s got heavy hands. If he wins over any decent up and coming fighter in the UK, he’ll be back on track. Overall, Mike Bisping was victorious by TKO in Round 2.

Main Event
Jorge Rivera vs. Mark Weir (Middleweight – 185 lbs)

With a great night of action packed under card bouts out of the way it was time for the main event of the evening. Would this bout be able to prove itself as the deserving headliner? Going into this fight, I found it very difficult to give an edge to either fighter. Both are very competent fighters and two of the nicest guys you’ll meet. This very troubling combination made me cautious when considering my prediction. I was just edging with Jorge Rivera going into it, as I was anticipating a solid stand up war.

At the press conference the day before I asked Jorge if his experience with Lee Murray had made him more inclined to do what he does best and that is stand up and slug with Weir. Rivera replied by saying he was a banger, but the bottom line is that you simply react out there in the Cage and he would take whatever openings presented themselves. Also, Weir told me back in April when I interviewed him at the sight of UFC 47 that he had trained extensively with Chuck Liddell on takedown defence and standing back up from the bottom position on the ground. All of these aspects made me believe that both fighters would stand with each other.

I was edging with Rivera because he was the more orthodox of both strikers. Darragh Creamer (Droc) countered my argument by saying orthodox isn’t always good, as Leigh Remedios fought completely orthodox against the extremely unorthodox Jean Da Silva and that didn’t fair out to good for him. That was a fair point, but both Rivera and Weir’s strongest facets as fighters came in their stand up ability. Unorthodoxy leaves openings though, alas Robbie Lawler and if Weir was to leave openings, this is where Rivera could succeed in the fight.

On to the actual fight. After the referee got things underway both fighters immediately came to meet in the centre of the octagon. Rivera got things off to a start by throwing a left front kick to the solar plexus of Weir. Weir used this unorthodox play by Rivera to engage in a clinch exchange. Weir then used the clinch to force Rivera back up against the fence. Weir then broke out of the clinch and instantly let his punches and kicks fly.

Weir landed a barrage of punches and high kicks to the head of Rivera, which rocked him deeply. So much so that Rivera turned his back to Weir facing the fence momentarily. Rivera soon came to his senses and managed to defend one of Weir’s kicks by grabbing on to it taking the fight to the ground. Rivera then showed great recovery by avoiding some early submission set-ups by Weir. It wasn’t long before Rivera started landing successful punches inside the guard of Weir. Rivera then connected with a few big right hands to the face of Weir.

Weir then seemed to abolish the idea of fighting from his back by using his feet to push Rivera’s hips away forcing Rivera back to his feet. When Rivera saw Weir attempting to get back to his feet he threw a vicious knee to the jaw of Weir, which sent Weir back down to the mat. The referee jumped in to break up the action and told Rivera that the knee was illegal since both of Weir’s knee points were down on the mat. Rivera maintained that when he threw the actual knee he thought Weir was trying to get back to his feet, so the referee let it go as an instinctive mistake by Rivera. Weir was asked if he needed time to recover. Weir decided to continue. It wasn’t long before Rivera got the fight back to the ground and resumed his top position in Weir’s guard.

Weir managed get some offence in from his back by landing a good punch to the face of Rivera followed by a solid kick just after Rivera rose back to his feet from the guard of Weir. Rivera then came back by landing some solid big right hands again to the face of Weir. Rivera soon passed Weir’s guard and the bell went not long after. What an eventful round. Weir started off dominantly, but Rivera had managed to turn things round to score big throughout the rest of the round. It was based on this I scored the round 10 – 9 in favour of Rivera.

Unfortunately, it was then revealed that the doctor was stopping the fight due to a bad cut over one of Weir’s eyes. Weir was visibly upset, while Rivera raised his arms in victory. This turned out to be a very exciting fight. I was disappointed for Weir, but I was happy for Rivera as this was his second win since his loss to Lee Murray and he definitely deserves to be back in the UFC as a result. So, what is next for both fighters? I believe Weir just needs to go back to the drawing board and just allow himself to keep growing as a fighter. He should definitely be back better than ever.

On the other hand, I firmly believe UFC matchmaker Joe Silva should take notice of Rivera’s recent form and arrange to get him back in the UFC Middleweight division as soon as possible. In case you haven’t heard, Robbie Lawler was supposed to move up to Middleweight and fight Ronald Jhun at UFC 49 in August, but Lawler is now out of that contest and guess who’s back in? Phil Baroni.

No disrespect intended to Baroni, but I believe Rivera is more deserving of that spot. Rivera is coming off two impressive wins now, while Baroni is coming off three losses. In defence of Baroni, the competition he faced in those fights were indeed top fighters, but the UFC seem to be showing some favour to the drawing power of the New York Bad Ass. I definitely intend on getting in touch with Rivera for his comment on the whole thing. Overall, in regards to the actual topic at hand, Jorge Rivera won by Doctor’s stoppage due to a cut after Round 1.


My conclusion to my review of Cage Rage 7 brings up some positives and negatives, but before I proceed I can state that I thoroughly enjoyed the show and my hat goes off to the promoters. On the positive side of things, the event was an amazing line-up on paper and the actual fights definitely reflected that by living up to their potential. Also, a big thumbs up to Mixed Martial Arts promotions on the SKY TV deal. For readers that are unaware. The highlights of Cage rage 7 will be shown on SKY Sports 3 on Thursday the 22nd of July coming at 10pm.

This will be the first of a possible series of Cage Rage programmes broadcasted on Sky Sports. I urge all readers who have access to SKY Sports to make a point of watching this highlight show, but if you wish to view the show, but don’t have access to SKY Sports, please convince a friend to let you watch it in their place. I assure you, you will not be disappointed. The bouts are all exciting and are a testament to the growing sport of MMA in Europe. As MMA fans, we need to do all we can to help popularise this sport and good ratings is what we need.

On a side note: there are a couple of things that I need to add. I mentioned there were a few negatives and I believe these are things that can be rectified easily. First off, for such a great card of fights, the show deserved a larger attendance. The Wembley Conference Centre was too empty. Not enough fans turned out to support the sport. This can be attributed to a couple of things. More promotion within all MMA clubs across Europe is needed, as students of this great sport need to hear about these events and when they hear about them they need to support the events to help the sport grow.

Also, if Mixed Martial Arts promotions are willing to dig deep into their pockets to bring over the best MMA competitors to Europe, they also have to be willing to do the simpler, less expensive things and that is local promotion. I didn’t see any flyers or posters up around the Wembley area. This was a mistake. If they put their name out there on a half decent poster it could be a big help. Also, they should consider the idea employed by the UFC and that is street teams. They need to get people out there that are enthusiastic about the sport handing out flyers and explaining to people why the sport is the most exciting in the world and why the fighters are the most exciting athletes in the world.

The only other thing that I fear hinders Cage Rage’s future and the future of the UK scene in general is the image that all these promotions are portraying. Instead of educating new fans in a professional manner, which could attract a very universal audience, they market the fighters as “Well ard” street fighters instead of skilled athletes. Also, I’m not a fan of the whole ring girl scene in the UK MMA scene. It verges too much on soft porn. If you watch the UFC or PRIDE, you’ll notice that the ring girls aren’t as scantily clad and they mainly just do their job of letting people know what round it is.

I believe morally it’s not good, as if I had children I could not take them to see an event with such a liberal outlook. Also, it takes away from the main point of the event and that is the fights. It attracts Lager louts, who definitely came in numbers to this event. The amount of times I heard very uneducated screams of “hit him, don’t just sit there” Many of these people came across as pure angry individuals who just wanted to get drunk, see ring girls get themselves in precarious positions and always make a point of booing any fighter if they weren’t from the UK. We can not continue to promote a sport that attracts people that look to verbally abuse fighters and seek out blood spillage whenever possible. If that’s your idea of entertainment, a few beers and a vampire movie might be easier to understand on a Saturday night.

Again, I must reiterate a few points that readers should realise. I immensely enjoyed this show. It was exciting for any casual viewer who hasn’t seen the sport before, it was exciting from a hardcore fan’s perspective and a testament to the hard work of all involved, fighters and promoters. If you have any questions, comments or any general feedback regarding the event itself or this review, please feel free to email me. You can reach me at:

Please refer back to the site as often as you can for the latest MMA news and my next article will be a look ahead to both UFC 49 and PRIDE FC: Final Conflict 2004 in August. Thank you all for reading this review and God bless you all.

Until next time, Support MMA!!


Joe Reilly