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Length: 110 mins
Cage Rage are probably the biggest UK based MMA promotion around right now, with a lucrative Sky Sports TV deal and a whole host of big names from the sport wanting to get involved. They’ve also been releasing their shows on DVD lately, and I had the chance to get my hands on the newest one, Cage Rage 12. Is it worth a look?
Cage Rage 12 was taped in London’s Wembley Conference Centre on July 5th 2005. The show starts off with the always annoying Richard Blackwood pretending to know a thing about Mixed Martial Arts, while spouting off some crazy hip hop buzzwords. If it wasn’t for some of the potentially great matches that were coming up, I’d have turned off the DVD right away. Even worse, Blackwood interviews the winner of each fight immediately after it, and even when he actually remembers the name of the guy he’s interviewing (which isn’t too often), he still asks embarrassingly bad questions in his special way that seems to confuse everyone born outside of England. You can’t deny the guy is known worldwide though, not through his pop career, but due to being used as a reference in an episode of The Office where David Brent made some ridiculous racist comment. But this isn’t about my love of all things Gervais, this review is about Cage Rage.
From RB, we go’straight to the action? This really confused me, because Cage Rage is a pretty new company with only a handful of shows under their belt, yet they didn’t take the time to introduce the viewer to how the company works. No listing of the rules, no rundown of the card, hell, even the commentators didn’t get to introduce themselves. All of a sudden we’re dropped right into a fighter’s entrance with three voices speaking to us. If the company wants to keep attracting new fans, they should do a better job of welcoming first time viewers. From watching previous Cage Rage shows, I was able to identify that the commentators were Malcolm Martin, Rob Nutley and PRIDE’s own Stephen Quadros.
One of the first things noticeable on this DVD is the sleaziness of the ring announcer. And no, in case you were wondering, we’re not told his name either. But wow, this guy is sleazy. He makes Peter Stringfellow look like a Blue Peter presenter. With his tacky suit, Cock-er-ny accent and funny little earring, you’d be forgiven for mistaking him for a dodgy lap dance club owner. Come to think of it, Cage Rage is sponsored by such a company with a whole host of busty ring card girls around the octagon, so I might not be too far from the truth there. Anyway, enough focusing on MTV presenters and Guy Ritchie movie wannabes, let’s look at the fights.
1. Cyrille Diabate Vs Fabio Piemonte
Diabate is an experienced Muay Thai expert from France who was defeated by Babalu at Cage Rage 9, while Piemonte is well versed in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and fought in the World Valde Tudo Championship in the late 90s.
The fight was a brief encounter, which started with Piemonte throwing a wild roundhouse kick which missed only by a matter of inches. After a takedown from Piemonte and little action on the ground, Diabate stood up and got hit by a big left from the Brazilian Southpaw. He failed to capitalise on it the first time, but after another shot to the head of the Frenchman, Piemonte trapped his dazed opponent in a deep Head and Arm Triangle which caused the tapout.
The fight didn’t really have a chance to get going, but Piemonte looked comfortable in his one sided victory. He should decent stand up skills and won with a submission, so other guys at 205lbs should beware.
Fabio Piemonte d. Cyrille Diabate by tapout via Head and Arm Triangle (2 minutes 10 seconds)
2. Brad Pickett Vs Jordan Miller
Picket’s nickname is “One Punch” and has a pretty big online cult following for his wacky personality and funny hat collection. Miller is a relative newcomer to MMA still looking to pick up his first win in only the second fight of his pro career.
The first round was another one sided affair, as Miller tried to stand with Pickett, who tore him apart with some big shots. Miller did manage to get in some knees from the clinch and even take down ‘One Punch’, but the strength advantage was clearly with Pickett. As the round went on, Pickett scored with more lefts, rights and knees to Miller who was really being dominated. The round ended with Pickett taking Miller down again with a double leg takedown and working the side mount.
The second round started just as the previous round did, with Miller again taking some heavy strikes and not having much answer for them. He did, however, at one stage manage to take Brad down and get into his guard, but he looked so tired and hurt that he had nothing left in him to improve his position or rain down with strikes. Pickett eventually got Miller into an Armbar attempt, and while he fought against it bravely for a bit, Jordan Miller eventually had no choice but to give up.
Just like the first match, this one was pretty much dominated by one guy. Miller made a terrible mistake in trying to stand with the talented boxer, and was picked apart with strike after strike. Pickett showed that he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve and he’s more than just a puncher with a well worked Armbar to end the fight, and he looks like he could pose a few problems for some opponents further down the line judging by this performance.
Brad Pickett d. Jordan Miller by tapout via an Armbar (7 minutes 32 seconds)
3. Mark Epstein Vs Mathias Riccio
Epstein is a regular face on the British MMA scene and was looking to overcome a couple of losses from the last few Cage Rage shows at this time of the taping, much like Riccio who was also defeated in his previous two appearances in Cage Rage.
Both men came out swinging at the start of the first, with the intention of getting the quick knockout. After trading some heavy strikes, Epstein tripped Riccio and got into his guard, but his opponent rolled out of harm’s way before the Ground and Pound specialist could cause any significant damage. Riccio then got a takedown using double underhooks, but before he could lay in any strikes, Epstein swept beautifully onto the top of his opponent. From there, Epstein started a Ground and Pound clinic, with relentless lefts, rights and effective use of the hammerfist to the face of Riccio. He continued to pound away for a considerable amount of time, before Riccio stopped responding and the referee stepped in to end the fight with two seconds remaining in the round.
This was an enjoyable, albeit short fight, which would have done a lot to help the confidence of Epstein, who looked to be stuck in a losing streak. Riccio didn’t really have a chance to shine on the night and was pretty much dominated by a stronger opponent, so it should be interesting to see how his MMA career unfolds. But overall, this was a strong performance by Epstein and a mildly enjoyable fight.
Mark Epstein d. Mathias Riccio by referee stoppage via Ground and Pound (4 minutes 58 seconds)
4. Matt Ewin Vs Travis Lutter
Ewin was fighting for the first time in 2005 for Cage Rage on this show, while Lutter is an American who can often be seen in UFC. He’s defeated Marvin ‘The Beastman’ Eastman in the past, as well as going toe to toe with Matt ‘The Law’ Lindland and Trevor Prangley.
The fight started with Ewin going for the shoot right away, but Lutter used his strength to fight the takedown. After an unsuccessful attempt to take Ewin’s back, Lutter took his opponent down and got into his half guard, before adjusting into side control. From there, Lutter applied a variation of a Kimura from the top that caused Ewin to submit, ending the fight early on.
Lutter was expected to go over here, and he didn’t disappoint. He’s a much more experienced fighter and a bigger name that Ewin worldwide, so it would have been a considerable upset had he failed to put away his opponent. Saying that though, you can only beat the person they put in front of you and Travis Lutter did just that. This was a comfortable performance in a quick match.
Travis Lutter d. Matt Ewin by tapout via modified Kimura (1 minutes 40 seconds)
5. Curtis Stout Vs Nilson De Castro
Stout is a a popular fighter who is undefeated in Cage Rage, and is famous for going the distance with Phil Baroni at UFC 30. De Castro is a Brazilian who has a background in both BJJ and Muay Thai.
If you blinked, you might have missed the fight. In round one, De Castro was caught with his hands down as he changed between stances, and Stout capitalised with a looping right hand which nailed his opponent right in the face. De Castro was out already, but Stout made sure of the win with some quick shots on the ground before the referee stepped in.
This was essentially a one punch knockout that did a lot for Stout’s reputation. This is the kind of match you show to a MMA newcomer after Griffin Vs Bonner to show that not all fights need to last 15 minutes, but can be just as spectacular.
Curtis Stout d. Nilson De Castro by referee stoppage via Ground and Pound (15 seconds)
6. Gerald Strebendt Vs Vitor Ribeiro
Strebendt is another fighter who has UFC experience, losing to Josh Thompson at UFC 44. Ribeiro is a BJJ specialist with an impressive 12-1 record going into this fight, holding a win over former UFC fighter Ivan Menjivar.
Once again, we had another one round fight. After two failed attempts to take Ribeiro to the ground, Strebendt shot in for a single leg, but got caught in a very impressive Guillotine which seemed to be locked in instantly, leaving him no choice but to tap out, giving Ribeiro the win.
Not for the first time tonight we saw a very quick fight with a sudden ending. Ribeiro looked to have great submission skills, locking in the choke in lightning quick time giving Strebendt no time to adjust his body position or counter it. It’s hard to enjoy a fight like this that never had a chance to get going, but there’s no denying Ribeiro deserved the victory.
Vitor Ribeiro d. Gerald Strebendt by submission via Guillotine Choke (1 minute 13 seconds)
7. Alex Reid Vs Kyosuke Sasaki
Reid is an English boxer who lost to Jorge Rivera at Cage Rage 10. Sasaki is a Japanese wrestler who was making his Cage Rage debut on this show.
The fight started with Sasaki taking down the crowd favourite Reid, and adjusting his position into a North-South mount. However, the problem from this position is that it becomes harder to hold down and inflict damage on the top half of an opponent, as well as the fact that the fighter on top has to be aware of knees. That’s exactly what happened in this fight, as Sasaki was caught by upwards knee strikes from Reid. This gave him a big cut on his eye, to such an extent that the fight was briefly stopped so that it could be cleaned and examined in more detail. After he was given the all clear to continue fighting, Sasaki found himself in Reid’s guard and found himself on the receiving end of some shots meant to open up the cut more. As he tried to turn his body away from Reid, Sasaki ended up being caught in a Rear Naked Choke which the Englishman couldn’t cinch in. From then on until the round ended, Sasaki stayed in Reid’s guard, taking more shots to the eye. During the break between rounds, on the doctor’s advice, the match was stopped and Reid was awarded the victory.
Alex Reid is a colourful character and he fought a really smart fight on this show. He knew that Sasaki’s cut was causing him bother, so he stuck at it and constantly got in a lot of small blows that were never going to knock out the Japanese fighter, but just glancing the cut would make it more open and put the fight in jeopardy. Aside from a few problems involving his ground work, Reid looked impressive here and deserved to win for his smart tactics.
Alex Reid d. Kyosuke Sasaki by referee stoppage via doctor’s recommendations (5 minutes)
8. Antonio De Silva Vs Rafael Carino
This is for Carino’s Cage Rage Heavyweight title. Both fighters comes from Brazil, with De Silva being a skilled stand up fighter whereas Carino is styled in BJJ and worked an early UFC show in the 90’s.
The first round started with both men keen to show their stand up skills. Both fighters traded punches and De Silva even scored knees from the clinch a couple of times. However, he held onto the clinch too long with no action, so the referee restarted in the centre of the octagon. After the restart, De Silva threw some big shots and rocked Carino, who did his best to stop the onslaught by pinning his opponent up against the cage wall. This failed to pay dividends in the long term though, as De Silva escaped from that position and laid in with more strikes. Carino dropped to the floor and was in the middle of being dominated via Ground and Pound when his corner threw in the towel, awarding the win and the title to Antonio De Silva.
De Silva looked like a monster in this fight, and thoroughly deserved the win. Can he keep up the good showings in a difficult heavyweight division? Only time will tell. The one thing that we can be sure of though is that his performance in this fight was certainly one that will send shivers down the spines of his rivals. Plus, he tried to attack Richard Blackwood in the post match interview, so he gets extra points from me. A very impressive showing from the new champion.
Antonio De Silva d. Rafael Carino by tapout via corner stoppage (2 minutes 55 seconds)
9. Mark Weir Vs Sol Gilbert
These are two of the biggest and most popular names in British MMA, and this fight is for the vacant British middleweight title. Weir is famous for knocking out Eugene Jackson at UFC 38 and had two more big matches over in the US for the company. Gilbert is a Cage Rage regular and had a respectable 6-2-1 pro record coming into this match.
The first round was a bit of a surprise, as it went straight to the ground when most would expect them to hang and bang. Weir was on top in Sol’s guard for the majority of the first round, laying in with some bombs from the top, despite Gilbert trying his best to prevent ‘The Wizard’ from creating any distance between the pair. Towards the end, Weir got into the mount on Gilbert and continued to dominate with more punches to the face, which caused Sol to turn around and give up his back. Weir managed to lock Sol in a Rear Naked Choke with a body triangle, but the round ended before he could get the submission victory.
The second round was a much more conventional affair between these two, as they decided to stay mostly on their feet and showcase what they have in the way of stand up. This was a brutal war for 5 minutes, as both Sol and Weir got in some heavy shots, with each fighter taking their fair share of abuse. Gilbert’s face was messed up from this fight, taking too many shots to the face that bruising and swelling was appearing already. As the round ended, Weir finally took his opponent down to the ground and dropped more big shots with some great Ground and Pound, but he couldn’t finish the fight before time expired. During the break between rounds, Sol Gilbert’s corner made it clear that their fighter couldn’t continue, so Mark Weir was declared the victor and the new British middleweight champion.
This was a really enjoyable match, and in my opinion, the best on the card. There was a lot on the line here, much more than just a title, and both fighters gave their all. Weir dominated the first round with his striking from in Sol’s guard, and both men gave great accounts of themselves in the second with some fantastic stand up action. Weir was the deserved winner though, in an extremely pleasing battle.
Mark Weir d. Sol Gilbert by tapout via corner stoppage (10 minutes)
Just like all MMA disks you can pick up these days, Cage Rage 12 features its fair share of extras.
- Post-Fight Interviews
This features Stephen Quadros holding interviews backstage with some of the headline makers from the show. It’s not even funny the ridiculous difference in the quality of questions asked between ‘The Fight Professor’ and Richard Blackwood. Some of the interviews are pretty enjoyable, like Curtis Stout’s profanity laced ranting or Quadros getting REALLY pissed off at a random backstage gopher that walks in front of the camera as Mark Weir tries not to laugh. It’s all good stuff here which almost makes up for Richard Blackwood, but not quite. There’s no excuse for ‘RB’ spending more time in his Curtis Stout interview talking about sneezing than the fight itself.
- Fighter Gallery
This is a collection of photos taken throughout the show. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but adding it in as an extra is always nice in case someone gets incredibly passionate over something like this.
- Easter Egg- Topless Ring Girls
On my press pack that came with the DVD, I was promised boobies. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to unlock the aforementioned mammary glands. Although it’s not like I tried and spent my whole weekend figuring out how to unlock this special feature. No, I just spent all of Sunday doing it. And failing. Anyway, this is thankfully a special feature that speaks for itself so I didn’t need to unlock it to find out what I’m getting. Topless Ring Girls. If you need this reviewer to explain to you what they looks like, you need to get out more.
My major gripes are not really with the quality of the fights, but Cage Rage itself as a promotion. I realise they don’t have the millions in finance to run an incredibly large scale operation, but there’s still a few things that make the whole promotion seem a bit shoddy. Little things like misspelling the names of the fighters on the onscreen graphics. Apparently, ‘Rafael Carino’ has a K in it, and you don’t even want to guess how they murdered the name ‘Mathias Riccio’. It’s just little things like these production screw ups, and that the fact that their main interviewer, Richard Blackwood, clearly has no idea about MMA, which make the whole operation seem a whole lot less professional than it should be.
As for the show itself, it’s not a bad introduction to Cage Rage. You’ve got a lot of big names in the sport from home and abroad taking part in some decent bouts, and nothing has a chance to drag on too long that it becomes boring. Saying that though, there are a few fights that don’t get a chance to get into their full swing, and perhaps far too many quick, one sided victories than I’d prefer to see. Still though, if you have an interest in Mixed Martial Arts it’s worth your while checking out Cage Rage, because they have some good stuff going on. And what better way to start than with Cage Rage 12?
Points: 7 / 10