tames Liaudin and Cummins keeps the wins coming!
Hall Saturday 22nd February 2003.
Martial Art fighting events are growing in popularity in England, to the point
that the UFC felt confident enough to stage a major pay per view event at the
Royal Albert Hall. One of the many people in attendance on that night was Dave
O Donnell, one of this countrys most dedicated and innovative instructors/promoters
and his passion is reflected in the quality of the "Cage Rage" shows,
where show business and hardcore fighting ability combine to create a spectacle
that is driving the sport forward with enthusiasm and exuberance. At the heart
of "Cage Rage 2" were fifteen quality bouts but it was the window dressing-the
stage managed intros, the fireworks, the music, the girls, the costumes-that
ensured the evening was an event, and one worthy of mainstream television exposure.
one saw Leon Dickens take on Jason O Conner, who was making his debut, and O Conner
wasted no time in making his mark. As the fight went to ground and the crowd were
still finding their voice, O Conner worked the arm bar and finished the bout in
less than 30 seconds, ensuring a debut he wont forget. The second bout saw
Ryan Robinson take on Lance King, both men strikingly similar in build and look
(once King had taken off the Freddie Kreuger mask!) and much of the first round
was spent upright against the cage wire as King tried in vain to get leverage
on a headlock. When the bout finally went to ground King took out his frustration
with a series of strikes from the mount but the bell saved Robinson from any real
Round two saw an
upright exchange that galvanised the crowd and when the fight went to ground it
looked as if King was going to dish out more of the same "ground n pound"
punishment, but just as he settled into a punching routine Robinson reversed his
man, seized his first real opportunity of the fight and won by an arm bar-proof,
if it were necessary, that the balance of power can shift in a second in the cage
This fact was emphasised
in bout three where the Elites Wayne Dart found himself in a strong position
early in his bout with Ryan Norwood. From the mount he picked up his man and executed
a strong slam, looking in total control, but Norwood kept his cool and from his
position on the floor executed a perfect triangle choke to win, leaving a bemused
Dart to sportingly congratulate his opponent two minutes into the opening round.
Of the early bouts, the
match between Vaughn Harvey and Philly San was a highlight; with some breathtaking
see saw work on the ground highlighting the fact that quality ground work can
be just as exciting as the upright exchanges. After some softening up punches,
Philly San got the arm bar on and the result seemed a formality but Harvey not
only escaped, he manoeuvred a reverse and suddenly it was San who was in trouble.
Round 2 saw San continue to look for clean striking opportunities from the mount
and the accuracy of his work caused Vaughn real problems. Midway through the round
these clean shots were unanswered and as the blows rained down Vaughn signalled
that enough was enough to end a real crowd pleasing fight, San the winner after
alternating well between skill and power techniques.
Appleby used similar tactics in his bout with Stephen Johnson, manoeuvring for
knee strikes and then going for the choke. Johnson survived this attempt but was
still in a dangerous position and Appleby resorted to strikes once more, a softening
tactic that allowed him to secure an arm bar and this time there was no escape
for Johnson. In the bout that followed, David Lee and Shane Burr also spent much
of their fight on the ground, trading more strikes than holds but this match also
proved another mixed martial arts point, namely that the man on his back isnt
necessarily the man in trouble. Shane Burr looked to be the man in control but
in reality he was desperately trying to get out of an arm bar from the man on
the ground and had to tap. As a result Lee went from being on his back to having
his arm raised aloft, a potent reminder that nothing should be taken for granted
in this style of fighting.
was a clash of styles when Jawaad Khan took on Tom Gerald in bout seven. Khan,
Gracie trained, wanted to take the match to ground but Gerald, from the Elite
Fighting System, forced him to stay upright for long periods, unleashing punishing
Thai Style low kicks at every opportunity. At one stage it looked as if Khan,
who had taken Gerald swiftly down, had his patience rewarded but Gerald not only
slipped the arm bar but regained his feet and finished the round delivering more
punishing leg kicks.
2 proved even more varied and exciting, with Gerald frustrating Khans attempts
to go to ground for long periods and it became obvious that Khan had no stand
up game and even when they went to ground, fatigue and wear and tear from the
consistent barrage of kicks meant that Gerald was in little real danger. This
proved a very popular and emotive fight, with Gerald deservedly getting the decision
but a rematch is a must, maybe with a title at stake.
Bailey tends to polarise opinion, but love him or hate him, he is never dull and
his ring entrance brought the house down on this occasion. Those familiar with
Robert Palmers "Addicted to Love" video will appreciate the bevy
of black stocking boasting scantily clad beauties who accompanied the "Basingstoke
Bad Boy" to the ring. His opponent Phil Gilder was less impressed than the
crowd but when the bell went the fireworks from the fighters ensured that the
eye candy was quickly forgotten. Bailey wasted no time in unleashing strong low
kicks and knees and when they went to ground immediately threatened with an arm
bar. Another quick punch exchange was followed by Gilder gaining the mount but
Bailey skilfully reversed the position and locked on a solid choke. Controversy
seems to dog Bailey, however, and although referee Grant Waterman (and myself)
saw Gilder tap his thigh sharply; Gilder swore he did not tap and had no intention
of tapping. It was an electric fight while it lasted and to clear up any doubt
a rematch is not only called for but looked forward to.
the one and only Royce Gracie is in your corner you are under pressure to perform
and this is the situation Mark Walder found himself in at "Cage Rage 2",
where he fought Graham Connelly. Royce was a guest of honour and guest referee
but as Mark is his student he also worked the corner for this one fight. The fight
seemed to take an age to start with both men very wary of making a wrong move
and then, much to Royces delight, Mark took his man to ground and began
to probe for weaknesses. As expected from a Gracie practitioner, Walder did not
squander the opportunity, forcing the tap from a solid arm bar and his relief
at winning was obvious to see, a large and vocal following sharing his and a certain
Mr. Gracies delight.
to be outdone by Jeremy Bailey, Elites very own super star in waiting, Chris
"The Bomber" Cummins was led out by the fabulous females from the award
winning Elite demonstration team, dressed in his now familiar Captain Caveman
outfit, complete with a very un-dangerous looking plastic club. Cummins is very
dangerous, however, with a great stand up and ground game and he is rapidly becoming
a complete fighter, stepping up in class with poise and confidence. His match
with Kasson Hipkess started with a bang and never let up, Hipkess getting an early
opportunity for an arm bar. A lift and drop nullified that and Cummins heeded
the warning, smothering his man and then choking him out with a clinical efficiency.
He may play about on his way to the cage but once inside it "The Bomb"
is all business, an attitude that permeates the whole Elite ethos.
striking Samurai garb, Andy Walker reminded the Elite team that they havent
quite cornered the market in striking entrances and this likeable and rugged Poole
fighter was determined to make his mark as he knew he was up against a top Brazilian
in the shape of Ronaldo Composs. After a series of feints by both men, Composs
took his British counterpart to ground and to the untrained eye a long period
of inactivity followed, punctuated only by Royce Gracie cajoling the referee with
"dont bring them up ref, hes still working!" It wasnt
ideal gamesmanship from the UFC idol either because mere seconds later Walker
tapped furiously, the victim of a subtly inflicted but hurtfully applied choke.
the signs pointed to Andy Cooper having a torrid time against Shane Torvell in
their British Title Fight if it remained upright, given Torvells Thai Boxing
background. Sure enough, the opening exchange was hard and hurtful with Torvell
dishing out the strong leg kicks. A brief ground exchange was fast and frenetic
with a frenzied series of reversals. The crowd were really beginning to warm to
the fight when suddenly it was all over, Cooper, who had been on the receiving
end of a lot of the work, unleashing two devastating punches to send Torvell to
the canvas and take the title in dramatic fashion.
of the night went to a three round classic between Paul Taylor and Jess Loiuden,
with a bout that demonstrated all the upright and ground skills in a master class
of cage fighting. The upright exchanges were fast and accurate and the groundwork
a mixture of tactics, techniques and ground and pound, with Loiuden showing remarkable
resilience and courage. Highlights in round 1 included Taylor lifting and dropping
his man twice, only to be caught in an arm bar! His escape brought the crowd to
their feet and the round ended with both men attempting identical heel hooks.
two was just as hard, Taylor hurtful striking from the mount and accurate striking
upright, Loiudens face beginning to mark up badly. Late in the round the
Frenchman had an opportunity with a leg lock but Taylor, as good in defence as
he was in attack, delivered a series of strikes to his opponents thigh with the
heel of his foot and the danger was negated.
third round saw Loiuden on top for the first time but his strikes were short lived,
Taylor executing the reversal and accurate and consistent with his own strikes.
Loiuden was stunned and when the fight went upright he was almost stopped by a
vicious shin strike to the head. Somehow the Frenchman managed to survive the
three rounds but his battered and bleeding face told the whole story and Taylor,
with a masterful performance, took a unanimous decision in a fight that epitomised
all that is great about this explosive style of combat.
Jenkins and Gaz Roriston ensured that there was to be no let up for the crowd,
following the international bout with their own classy encounter, once again displaying
solid upright and ground technique. Jenkins seems to be fighting almost once a
week and is one of the most durable fighters on the circuit but in the opening
round Roriston asked serious questions of him, first with standing punches and
then an explosive flurry from the mount. Jenkins not only survived but reversed
the situation and by the end of the round Roriston had swelling beneath his eye
but as to who won it? Well, it was too close to call.
second round opened with the same frantic pace, Roriston using knees to good effect
and it was Jenkins, bleeding himself now, who was keen to go to ground to negate
Roristons work. It was to prove another close round, Roriston having an
opportunity with the choke but unable to gain the necessary leverage, Jenkins
grabbing the arm but running out of time when trying to execute the arm bar.
a carbon copy of the opening to the second round, Roriston scored with a strong
knee to the head, then Jenkins managed an upright choke but like Roriston before
him, he simply couldnt engineer the leverage. In a close, hard contest,
Jenkins "showed" more in the third round and this was enough to give
him the decision, although it was far from comprehensive and once again a rematch
is a definite requirement.
top of the bill was a superb match between American Gerald Strebendt, trained
by the legendary Machado Brothers and the dynamic young Brazilian who has been
adopted by the "Cage Rage" crowd, Jean Silva. This was an anticipated
step up in class for Silva and it proved to be so, Strebendt proving to have an
all around game and a lightening quick brain. As a result, despite his flamboyant
style and superb conditioning, Silva was always second best, a flying knee attack
his only real success. Strebendt was relentless and accurate, his work hurtful
from the mount but he allied the strength work with real technique, manoeuvring
a choke from which there was no escape for the Brazilian fan favourite. Silva
was inconsolable afterwards but Strebendt is a class act and proved to be both
humble and likeable in victory.
superb show reflected the qualities that make The Elite Fighting System such a
potent force, an irresistible mix of business and pleasure, of serious ability
and infectious fun and Dave O Donnell proved with "Cage Rage 2" that
he not only knows how to match make, building the show to a quality finish with
the professional bouts, but he also knows how to entertain a crowd in "showbiz"
terms. It is this almost perfect blend that will see the "Cage Rage"
series go from strength to strength, creating careers whilst promoting the mixed
martial arts in the best possible light.