July 10, 2007
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by Lee Whitehead – MMAWeekly.com
The Cage Rage show rolls round again and this time the show features a lot of homegrown fighters, the return of a UK MMA legend and some imported talent from Pride in the shape of Mario “The Zen Machine” Sperry.

The UFC is firmly rooted in these shores now and I firmly see there being room for both promotions to run their own style events.

ButterBean vs Tengiz Tedoradze
Tedoradze is the UK’s number one heavyweight, with a 20-7-1 record and wins over Broughton, Blackledge (x2), Thompson (x2) and Berry (x2) he has dropped bouts to top flight competition in Monson, Drago, Giant Silva and Werdum – none of them slouches or cans.

This fight should see him add Butterbean to the win list. Stylistically, the match favors Tedoradze as the American finds himself with a deficit in ground abilities, a lack of long distance cardio and speed disadvantage. Tedoradze will have to follow the same gameplan as successfully blueprinted by Broughton: stay out of hook range, wear him down with movement and take him down for a ground and pound finish.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not downplaying Butterbean’s abilities, if he connects cleanly with the Georgian it will be lights out, but I just don’t see Tedoradze looking to trade the way Thomspon did.

Prediction: Tedoradze / GNP / R2

Mario Sperry vs Lee Hasdell
A very intriguing fight that really could go either way, if both fighters come to play hard then we could be in for an exciting fight – Sperry has a clear edge in Submissions and Hasdell in the striking. So what are the likely gameplans? You would expect them to both follow their strengths, but who knows? The last time Sperry won via submission was back in 2001 and we have seen an improvement in his hands since then.

Hasdell is making a return to active competition following a three year layoff, but it doesn’t mean he hasn’t been training. His strengths are clearly in his Thai background and his unorthodox Japanese shoot style anti-grappling skills, Sperry has the ability to submit him but I feel he will be eating knees if he shoots wildly – and Hasdell is a known terror with his knees.

The Brazilian Top Team is a near fight institution and has produced some of the best fighters in the world of MMA, as leader of the camp he will surely have been pushed hard in training for this fight but I just think that Hasdell’s aggression, pace and desire will be the deciding factor.

Prediction: Hasdell / TKO / R2

Cabbage vs James Thompson
I am looking forward to seeing this fight, Thompson has shown massive improvement in recent times with impressive wins over Yoshida and Frye although he did drop the ball slightly with Butterbean – there were other mitigating factors that played their part in that bout. He has been training in Thailand and his standup is really coming along for a big, heavy guy.

This fight will be a big test of Thompson’s durability and ability to adapt a gameplan on the fly as he is unlikely to be able to KO the Hawaiian with the granite chin. Cabbage has had a rough run of late en route to a 5-1 record in the last 18 months, he so desperately needs a win and hopefully he has been making adjustments to his game and training seriously for this bout as he is starting to be viewed a one-dimensional fighter who is capable of huge punishment.

If Thompson can be measured, pace himself well and avoid blowing out of energy fast then he should be able to amount enough damage via GNP to force a stoppage, but I don’t see it coming early in the fight.

Prediction: Thompson / GNP / R3

Edson Drago vs Gary Turner
Last time Drago was here in the UK he delivered a brutal KO to Tedoradze within 5 seconds of the bell and securing his performance on Cage Rage highlight reels for years to come, this time he will be facing someone more than capable of taking his shots.

Drago looked to be full of promise when he signed for the PRIDE organization, but back-to-back losses against Nastula and Nakao highlighted weaknesses in his game. He looks right and can bang hard, but just never really followed up on the promise.

Turner made a return to MMA at the last Cage Rage successfully stopping Tank Abbott via TKO midway through the first round of their encounter. Abbott came at him hard, landing a flurry of shots but the durable Brit absorbed these, remained composed and reverse the tables for the win. This fight will provide a true test of his MMA credentials as Drago can take the fight to any level and wont be concerned about striking or subbing, should be a good fight.

Prediction: Drago / TKO / R2

Herb Dean vs Dave Legeno
US referee extraordinaire Herb Dean changes roles and steps into the cage against Legeno, a fighter who has been part of one of the most boring and lackluster matches ever (against Dan Severn) and one of the strangest fights in Cage Rage history (against Kimo).

Legeno has been training with a variety of people since his debut and although it has been a while since we have seen him, I hope it has been because he has been honing his skills, he looked gun-shy in his last outing and still has a terrible ground game to be fighting at this level.

Honestly, having never seen Dean fight, I don’t really know what he can bring to the table, but I know there are serious holes in Legeno’s game that can be exploited.

Prediction: Dean / Submission / R2

Mark Buchannan vs James McSweeney
This fight should mark the successful debut of K1 veteran James McSweeney, fresh of massive win over Michael McDonald at CR21. Buchanan certainly won’t be able to trouble him on the feet and on the ground Buchanan is limited anyway, his wrestling base is decent enough but his sub game isn’t threatening.

McSweeney by contrast is tall, rangy and very athletic, he will be brutal in the clinch where his knee attack allows multiple variations in MMA (as opposed to K1 single technique rules) and he has a background training in Russian Sambo for years. Although, I very much doubt he will be looking to submit his opponent, if he does somehow find himself on the ground he should be able to get backup and smash his opponent for the finish.

Prediction: McSweeney / KO / R1

Paul Cahoon vs Mark Epstein
This match has brutal KO written all over it, both guys are serious bangers, both have been around for ages and have seen all kinds of wars. Epstein is content to trade with anyone and Cahoon’s machismo will prevent him from taking it to the ground, so expect fireworks from the off with both swinging for the fences looking for the finish.

Cahoon is relatively unknown to the UK scene despite having been around since the early days of UK MMA, but has fought the majority of his career in the Holland scene and “oop narth” in Liverpool, this fight should endear him to the Cage Rage crowd with his never-say-die attitude, but ultimately, I see him going down via KTO in the second.

Prediction: Epstein / TKO / R2

Ronnie Mann vs Robbie Olivier
Big step up for Ronnie Mann and a decent recovery fight for Olivier who was consummately outclassed by Japanese submission sensation Mazakasu Imanari in his last outing. Mann’s stock is on the rise following an impressive win over Ashleigh Grimshaw at CR20, he has good hands and is comfortable on the ground. Olivier is a ground whiz though and short of Alex Owen and Danny Batten, no-one will come at him on the UK scene with such a barrage of submissions.

I expect this will be good, flowing fight but one that will have Olivier retaining his British Championship via decision.

Prediction: Olivier / Decision

Marios Zaromskis vs Ross Mason
Mason and Zaromskis – excellent ingredients for a standup war; Mason has long been known as being a good solid Muay Thai fighter but he is also prone to getting caught up in trying to bang someone out, almost missing other opportunities in a fight because of his desire to strike, he is tough, make no doubt, but he will need to keep his wits about him with Zaromskis.

A product of London Shoot and one of the new breed of Cage Rage main card fighters, he cut his teeth on the UK circuit before ending up in Contenders, then stepped up to the main show against Damien Riccio in a fight that for myself, was clearly the highlight of 2006 on these shores.

Zaromskis can strike technically but he can also scrap in a full-on dirty standup war, he is tenacious and can take serious punishment, both fighters are very well suited to each other and this will surely be an edge of the seat bout.

Prediction: Zaromskis / TKO / R2

Ross Pointin vs Dean Bray
Things didn’t go to plan for poor old Pointon during the last Cage Rage outing as he dropped another bout to the British Lightweight champion Abdul Mohammed via surprise spinning backfist. Up until the point of the stoppage, Pointon was looking much improved over his appearances on the Ultimate Fighter.

This is a fight he can win though, Bray is a decent product of Team Titan, has relatively good standup and a decent ground game, no major excelling points in his game of note, but just a solid fighter – he is quite small at this weight though and reach aside should face a strength deficit to the former Heavyweight.

Prediction: Pointon / GNP / R2

Michael Johnson vs Damian Riccio

Good to see Johnson back in action again, injury forced him out of his last scheduled appearance and this time word is that he is in good health and ready to go. London Shoot are a very professional squad and it’s nice to see some of the guys outside of the usual come up and fight on the main team. At some point, stalwarts such as Reid, Epstein and Zikic will hang up their gloves and guys like Zaromskis, Johnson and Heagney will then fly the flag for the new generation.

The Frenchman will definitely come out strong and look to throw down in his usual, inimitable style, Johnson will need to be calm and circle, pick his shots from the distance and not get into a scrappy brawl, if he succeeds in this, chops his legs and starts to ground the action he can drag it into the later rounds and start to target cuts, that is the best key victory as the Frenchman has a lot of built up scar tissue. If he finds himself clinched up against the cage he will be giving the fight to Riccio.

Prediction: Johnson / TKO / R3

Tom Watson vs Ed Smith

This will be a raw fight between two guys content to stand and slug it out, Watson proved in his fight against Foupa-Pokam that he can handle solid punishment as well as dish out a handy beating of his own, he likes to come out of hte gate fast and press the action – a style of fighting that matches well with Smith as he fights exactly the same way. Smith has good hands on him and fights like a bull, Watson seems to be more focused on kicks and that might make a huge difference in the way they engage.

Both will be hunting for the KO and both like to ground and pound as well, I very much doubt that we will be seeing a submission attempt in this one, its just going to be pure unrelenting violence from the two throughout.

Prediction: Watson / TKO / R2

Full Card:
ButterBean vs Tengiz Tedoradze
Mario Sperry vs Lee Hasdell
Cabbage vs James Thompson
Edson Drago vs Gary Turner
Herb Dean vs Dave Legeno
Mark Buchannan vs James McSweeny
Paul Cahoon vs Mark Epstein
Ronnie Mann vs Robbie Olivier
Marios Zaromskis vs Ross Mason
Ross Pointin vs Dean Bray
Joe Mac vs Bad Boy
Michael Johnson vs Damian Riccio
Tom Watson vs Ed Smith

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