by Lee Whitehead – MMAWeekly.com
Things are starting to take shape for the first Cage Rage card of 2008 with the announcement of additional bouts scheduled for the 11-fight event to be held at Wembley Arena on March 8. Some of the bouts were already announced, but others are new and telling of the intention to promote fighters up from the Cage Rage Contender series.
Jake Bostwick vs. John Phillips and John Hathaway vs. Marvin Arnold are both fights that we would have seen during 2007 at a venue such as the Troxy in Central London, but with the Cage Rage regulars taking a bit of a breather, they have been drafted up to kick the main show off, most likely to optimize outlay in order to bring in some big names to top the as yet un-headlined card.
Hathaway has been on a tear of late. His technical striking and level head under pressure should see him build on this momentum when the bell rings against Marvin Arnold.
Bostwick is a favorite of the promoters. Providing the big crowd doesn’t give him the jitters, he should be able to kick the night of in his usual aggressive fashion.
Also announced for the card is 58kg/128lbs women’s MMA fighter Aisling Daley, whose opponent is yet to be named. It will be interesting to see who she is matched up with over the coming weeks as the U.K. scene isn’t really recognized for its women’s MMA talent, clearly something that needs to be addressed as more and more women are training, but not really getting the platform’s to showcase their skills on.
Newly contracted Elite XC fighter Che’ Mills is lined up to face London Shootfighter Michael Johnson is what will surely be a solid battle. Mills is a tough, technical and very dangerous opponent but the strong, mega-cutting Johnson shouldn’t be overlooked in this bout.
Danny Batten, arguably the number one featherweight in the U.K., makes a return to the promotion to face Leigh Remedios, a fighter who was once regarded as one of the top guys in his weight class when he stepped away from the sport to concentrate on family and his club. For many a long serving MMA fan on these shores, this fight will provide a fascinating storyline, not least in helping to determine who will be the next challenger for the world featherweight title currently strapped around Mazakazu Imanari’s waist. Batten, for one, would love to get a chance at avenging his loss to the Japanese sensation. Remedios will look to prove he still has the fire and skill he once exhibited.
Staying with the Japanese fighter, he makes a welcome return to face the ever-game Jean Silva, who returned to the promotion in September with an impressive win over Chris Brennan. Imanari is certainly oddball in his fighting style, but more so, Silva is unorthodox enough to make it work.
As a side note, Silva has faced Remedios before en route to a draw, so wherever the chips fall with these four fighters, they are almost certainly destined to meet in a different layout at a later date.
Rob Broughton returns to the heavyweight division following a lengthy layoff due to a torn Achilles tendon. During his absence, Neil “Goliath” Grove has emerged as the next juggernaut to close in on contender status for Tengiz Tedoradze’s British title. He isn’t ready yet, but a couple more wins will surely put him in frame. Broughton is very capable of fighting a complete MMA match at any level and more than willing to take obscene punishment whilst doing so. He will provide the sternest test to the Goliath yet.
Roman Webber engages with Italian light-heavyweight Ivan Serati with a view to avenging the loss of teammate Lee Hasdell at the last Cage Rage, as well as to continue his ascendancy in the pecking order for contender status. Serati is no pushover though and Webber will need to be at the very peak of his abilities to shine.
Tom Watson is signed, but as yet facing an unknown opponent. Whoever he faces will have to contend with a very aggressive Watson, who acknowledged he gave way too much consideration and respect in his last fight and that the venom he is known for will be back in this bout.
Tough times are in line for Gary Turner, who faces Mustapha Al Turk in a heavyweight contest. Turner is riding a three-fight win streak since his debut in the promotion, and despite making a meal of his last outing against former boxer Julius Francis, should be back to the level he fought Edson Drago at. If he isn’t, Al Turk will end the streak inside the distance.
The venerable British promotion is clearly trying to push tight match-ups on a national level, but they are aware of the need for a headline fight with considerable clout. It will be interesting to see whom they sign to head the show; hopefully it will be someone who can add value to the promotion rather than a one-shot fight.