Cage Rage 22: Hard as Hell is scheduled to take place July 14th, 2007 at the Wembley Arena in London, England.
Last night saw a packed Wembley Arena for the latest instalment of MMA as the Cage Rage brand exhibited its wears in front of a near-capacity crowd.
The world of MMA can deliver the fans a fantastic night out. Glitz, glamour, girls and some very entertaining contests were the order of the evening. And between contests, there are short interviews and mini documentaries about fighters to both educate and wet the crowd's appetite for the contest. In addition, punchy interviews with fighters and pundit slots keep the entertainment rolling along.
Moreover, the numerous big screens are invaluable, especially when the fighters go to ground. They allow the crowd to see the intricacies of the action. Far from being a blood thirsty atmosphere, the audience seemed to be very knowledgeable. They understood the technicalities of the fighting far better than I did. On occasions, I found myself wondering why a cheer would go up in a fight, only for a ringsider to carefully explain to me what happened during the replay at the end of the round.
The referees seem to protect fighters and ensure that the action is progressing and entertaining by standing grounded fighters up when the pace slows. The refs wear microphones so the crowd can hear all of the instructions to fighters all of the time.
Interestingly, former British and Commonwealth champion Julius Francis appeared on an interview slot. He talked about his kick boxing experience and he didn't discount the possibility of trying MMA himself.
Headlining the event was the fat fighting freakshow Eric Butterbean Esch. The Bean of course was a big draw in boxing for near a decade, but he now is using his weight and beefy right hand in the cage rather than the ring.
His opponent was Tengiz Tedoradze, who had a whopping 60kg disadvantage and arrived as the reigning Cage Rage Championship British heavyweight champion.
The fight itself was exciting but short-lived. Butterbean obviously went for his honey right hand from the off, but his English opponent appeared to get the better of the action while the pair were standing.
Suddenly, Eric knocked his man down with a left hand and he went to dive on his grounded opponent. Unfortunately, he couldn't co-ordinate his oversized body well enough and Tengiz managed to get on top of the huge American.
From this position, Tedoradze blitzed the Bean's bald head with hard punches and the referee stopped the fight with 34 seconds to go in the first.
The main supporting bout saw UFC referee Herb Dean get back into the cage against Death Wish Dave Legeno.
Herb appeared slightly unwilling to mix it up and aficionados at cageside informed me that the American referee has fought himself only sporadically over recent years.
Legeno appeared far the gamer of the pair and landed some hard strikes. Dean did look very competent in the submission aspects, almost hooking in an ankle lock, but never appeared comfortable with Dave's aggression. Disappointingly, Dean pulled out at the end of the opener, claiming he couldn't see out of one of his eyes.
Late substitute Neil Grove made short work of James Colossus Thompson. Grove landed a massive right hand that left poor Thompson unconscious and it was all over in ten seconds.
Brazilian Mario Sperry made a successful Cage Rage debut as he got a submission victory over fellow debutant Lee Hasdell. Sperry roared forwards and launched an overhand right at the start that made his intentions brutally clear. The pair went to ground and worked for position. Lee was forced to eat some hard hooks before he tapped out when Mario got him with a rear naked choke.
An all English affair also ended in the opener as James The Machine McSweeney battered Mark The Canon Buchanan into defeat while the later man his on his back. After a heated initial exchange, the pair found themselves on the mat with McSweeney on top. Buchanan then managed to gain the favourable position but was cleverly reversed by the undefeated McSweeney, who now sports an MMA record of 3-0.
The blows bombed down onto Buchanan's head and he took more shots when he turned over which prompted the third man's intervention.
Roddie The Flame Olivier, wearing Manny Pacquiao style shorts to match his moniker, out pointed Ronnie Mann over the full three five-minute rounds.
The bout was on the dull side, and the crowd grew slightly disinterested. Mann showed good defence in the opener, making his man miss with left hooks and avoiding being taken down by Olivier, who retained his Cage Rage British featherweight title. The second stanza was very slow, but Olivier fought well in the last, finding the mark with some viscous knees and effectively taking Ronnie down to the ground.
Ross The Boss Mason was on the end of the most destructive stoppage of the evening. In the third of a highly competitive affair he was caught flush by a flying knee by Vale Tudo fighter Mario Zaromskis. Ross collapsed onto the canvas and had to take a few more shots before the ref could get in to stop it. At only 25 years old, Mario maybe one to watch.
Both fighters were cut from the first, a round in which hard shots were exchanged and the action was exciting and engaging. The second saw the fight on the canvas initially before the ref stood the pair up. Zaromskis scored with quality combinations. Before he was levelled in the last, Mason fought well, putting Mario down with a big right.
Ross The Gladiator Pointon appeared to have his hands full with 30-year-old Dynamite Dean Bray until he suddenly choked his man out with a guillotine in the second. Ross clearly was looking for the move at the outset, he narrowly missed out on it at the start of the first.
Later in the round, Ross had Dean on his back and winged punches into his opponent. The taller Bray was more than holding his own until getting caught really out of the blue by the finishing guillotine in the second.
In another distance affair, Paul Cahoon outpointed tough Mark The beast Epstein over the three round course. Mark, five years the older man, appeared to be short on ideas as he was outworked by Cahoon.
To his credit, Mark never stopped trying and soaked up his beating. He tired noticeably as the rounds went by and his legions of fans implored him to throw his right hand more. Epstein was unable to get into the fight effectively and had the look of a fighter at the end his career. Cahoon made a successful Cage Rage debut and improved his MMA record to 8-10.
In the show opener Tom Kong Watson defeated Ed Smasher Smith via unanimous decision. Watson attempted a flashing spinning back fist in the opener before the fight went to ground. Tom was on top of his man; brawling with hurtful shots. The second saw some excellent stand up fighting before Watson gained the upper hand as the fight went to the canvas. Tom sapped Smith's energy effectively as Tom appeared very gassed out between the second and third rounds.
In the final round, Smith lifted his man but the move backfired as the pair ended up on the canvas with Ed on the underside, where he was worked over to the head and body.
French import Damien Big Problem Riccio had a problem of his own as east London's Michael Johnson smashed his nose so badly that his corner retired him at the end of the second.
Johnson, nicknamed the Black Death slammed Damien to the canvas hard as the action began, and then compounded his advantage by hammering in body shots. Michael took the opener.
The second started on the floor, but quickly went to ground again where the ref badgered them to make progress. Johnson found himself on top and again delivered damaging shots to the face.
Finally, Brazilian Edson Drago pulled out at the end of the second against Gary Smiler Turner. He claimed a burst ear drum.
Eric “Butterbean” Esch gegen Tengiz Tedoradze
Mario Sperry gegen Lee Hasdell
Rob Broughton gegen Gary Turner
Herb Dean gegen Dave Legeno
Mark Buchanan gegen James McSweeney
Paul Cahoon gegen Mark Epstein
Ronnie Mann gegen Robbie Olivier
Marius Zaromskis gegen Ross Mason
Ross Pointon gegen Dean Bray
Joe Mac gegen Jeremy Bailey
Michael Johnson gegen Damian Riccio
Tom Watson gegen Ed Smith