Text and Pictures by Lee Whitehead – MMAWeekly.com
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The Cage Rage card is stacked this weekend as plenty of UFC veterans are on the card. Anderson Silva headlines the card against Tony Fryklund. Also on the card is Dave Menne, Amar Suloev, Dave Strasser, Curtis Stout and more. MMAWeekly’s Lee Whitehead is in the UK with a preview and the photo’s will be up soon in the Photo Gallery.
Tony Fryklund vs Anderson Silva
(Middleweight World Title)
The promoters spent ages trying to find a suitable opponent for Anderson Silva and plumped for Tony “The Freak” Fryklund, a well rounded and dangerous fighter hailing from the highly regarded Miletich camp. In typical Miletich style, he is a tough gutsy fighter, well versed in submission and more than comfortable in the standup; although the smart gameplan would be to close the distance early, bully him around the cage and work for the takedown.
Silva, for his part will be looking to prove a point following the disappointment of his RotR outing where he was disqualified for an illegal blow. It appears that we always see the best of Silva at Cage Rage, his recent outings at Pride and RotR have paled against the performances here. He has breezed his way through Weir, Rivera and Stout – in devastating fashion. Fryklund is more of a dangerman compared to the aforementioned fighters in that he isn’t skewed towards the standup.
Silva will be looking to capitalize on his reach advantage and movement to thwart Fryklund. Silva showcased his improved BJJ skills against Stout but this writer believes he should stay on his feet.
Dave Menne vs Alex Reid
Menne has seen it all, a very experienced MMA veteran who has seen the highs and the lows of this sport, from UFC Middleweight champion to fighting in some of the smaller , he is certainly a step up in competition level for Reid. With a professional record of 38-13-2 he is certainly the most experienced fighter Reid will have faced. The majority of his wins have come from submission or decision – he is not know for having KO power, but more for being your typical cagey veteran.
Reid is a Cage Rage fan favorite who trains out of the London Shootfighters stable, he is a good striker and adept at submission on the ground. His most obvious weakness is in his wrestling ability as highlighted in his bout with Daijiro Matsui back at Cage Rage 14. The Japanese fighter was able to use superior positioning throughout the bout to keep Reid on his back and nullify his submission offence. Following his recent split decision loss at the WCFC he will be looking to rebound with a win to get him back in the Middleweight Title mix.
Dave Strasser vs Paul Daley
Daley faces a change of opponent to another UFC veteran in Dave Strasser following the withdrawal of original opponent Chris Lytle, thus moving this bout down to a non-title middleweight fight. Daley realized in his fight with Silva that early round trepidation isn’t needed and came out very strong in the second. He needs to start hard from the bell and keep the pressure on, to make a statement with Strasser and push the fight for a finish instead of letting the fight go to the judges. Daley has a tough head and can take punishment, Strasser is unlikely to stop him with strikes, he needs to be aware of this and fluster the American.
Strasser is the most experienced fighter Daley has faced yet with a record of 24-7-4 but above all, he has fought in bigger shows and is no stranger to fighting under pressure, Strasser’s is unlikely to be as strong as Daley and will need to rely on veteran smarts and technique to try and either pound his way to victory or submit Daley – which is easier said then done as Daley as very good submission defense.
Amar Suloev vs James E Nicolle
Suloev is your typical tough Russian MMA fighter, tough, well rounded and has that never say die attitude that is prevalent in Red Devil fighters. His record of 19-5-0 spans a career that has seen him compete in both the UFC and PRIDE against top-tier fighters such as Lister, Baroni, Filho and Liddell. A win against Nicolle would see him move into the stacked Middleweight division in Cage Rage, moving him closer to a showdown with Silva.
Nicolle is a hard-hitting striker capable of putting away opponents decisively with strikes but his level of experience falls short of Suloev’s. A win would be an impressive scalp at an early stage of his MMA career (6-0) but you have to question if he is ready for a fight of Suloev’s caliber quite yet.
Jorge “Macaco” Patino vs Curtis Stout
Stout left the UK following his last fight feeling down and upset having lost a controversial decision against Daijiro Matsui. Stout employed a Sprawl’n'Brawl tactic against the Japanese but was ruled against on the basis of effective aggression (Mastui was relentlessly pursuing the takedown) despite having the better exchange in the strikes.
Stout has acknowledged that he needs a Trevor Prangley style wrestler to maul him around on a continual basis but they are in short supply in his native Chicago and hopefully he has added this resource to his training regime. Macaco is content to strike but is also known for a punishing ground and pound attack – Stout needs to avoid being on the bottom but has to adopt a more aggressive gameplan in this fight than his last.
Macaco for his part has fought all over the world in an eleven year career and has mixed it up with some very good opponents in Miletich, Pele and Machado – his Vale Tudo background has taught him to fight wherever it battle goes but it is most likely that he will try to ground Stout and pound out a victory.
Hiroyuki Abe vs Brad Pickett
Pickett is likely to steamroll Abe in this fight. Pickett has really come into his own in the last couple of fights showing huge improvement on the ground and sowing off some decidedly unconventional escapes. His striking is unquestioned and an opponent such as Abe will only serve to fill the space before a rematch with Robbie Oliver is on the cards.
Abe is now running 8-1 since 2002 with his only win coming via submission at Euphoria last year. He has faced quality opposition in his time but his need to reverse fortunes is greater than ever. Striking and Submission are unlikely to trouble Pickett will surely be looking to finish the fight early on.
Gary Rawlings vs Robert Berry
Following the disappointment of his last fight at Cage Rage, Berry has been lined up to take on Heavyweight Gary Rawlings to rebound his fortunes. Initial impressions of Rawlings is that he doesn’t appear to be in that great a shape to be tangling with fighter as solid and strong as Berry.
Berry hits hard and moves quite well for a guy of his size – his wrestling ability is in need of some work and he could potentially do with laying of the weights and focusing on cardio for a while as he appeared to be drained against Tedoradze. Berry will come out aggressive and look to overpower Rawlings on route to a likely TKO victory.
Ryan Robinson vs Mark Epstein
(British Light-Heavyweight Title)
Clash of styles for this fight with a renowned banger in Epstein and a fluid grappler in Robinson – Epstein is on a tear at the moment having breezed through his last three fights with suitable vigor.
This match is indeed the second time these fighters have met, last time they fought Epstein came out on top but Robinson has improved immensely since that time and is a much more capable MMA fighter than before. His BJJ game has sharpened and he is a lot more comfortable trading as well, the key here is smarts and Robinson will be working towards a gameplan – Epstein by contrast always looks for the KO and that makes his approach somewhat predictable.
Tengiz Tedoradze vs Edson Drago
(British Heavyweight Title)
Tedoradze made short work of Berry in their last match and is to a certain degree overlooked on the MMA scene outside of the UK. Here is a fighter that has gone 15-3 since 2002 with his only losses owed to K1 bound Antonio Silva and UFC Vet Jeff Monson. Tedoradze has excellent wrestling and is a very gutsy brawler; he is strong enough to suplex 110kg of solid mass in Berry and still out-wrestle him. He is force to be reckoned with and fully deserves to be holding a title such as the Cage Rage British Heavyweight title.
Drago is an undefeated 7-0 Brazilian Vale Tudo fighter making is UK debut against Tedoradze; With a depth of experience dating back to 2004 you would have to assume that a match with a veteran such as Tedoradze might be a little too soon – he has his work cut out for sure, but with so little known about Drago he has the ability to make a huge impact into the Cage Rage heavyweight scene.
ADDITIONAL NEWS AND NOTES
Amar Suloev has been training with Fedor Emelianenko for this fight and Fedor is in attendance as corner-man for his bout against James E Nicolle, Suloev appeared to be calm and focused as usual.
Tony Fryklund was in his usual intense self and appeared to be in the best shape ever for a fight, word has it he is injury-free and totally honed in on the job at hand. A little tension between him and Anderson Silva on account of Silva making him wait an inordinate amount of time during the Press Weighins. Haven’t seen a fighter look so genuinely intense in a long time
Who knows what Dave Menne is thinking about his opponent Alex Reid following the weighins, Reid turned up to showboat as usual (such is his style) with a bottle of champagne and two glasses, one of which he gave to Menne. Menne was all business and refused to get caught up in the charade; expect the cagey veteran to prove a point tomorrow.
Following on from their encounter at the last Cage Rage Bailey and Barrett had to be separated from a scuffle at the weighins, both fighters have been jibbing back and forth for ages now selling the fight, things culminated with Barrett lunging at Bailey prompting a separation of the two – tomorrow, hopes are high for a war, and both guys seem ready to bring it – lets hope this lives up to the hype and doesn’t fizzle early in the first!
IN FIGHT ORDER:
1) Fereidoun Naghizadeh No Weight vs Mark Buchanan 229.28
2) Martin Thompson 229.28 vs Mustapha Al Turk 249.12
3) Gesias Cavalcante 160.94 vs Jes Liaudin 160.94
4) Daisuke Nakamura 166.23 vs Michael Johnson 169.76
5) Edson Drago 219.36 vs Tegiz Tedoradze 240.30
6) Jason Barret 169.76 vs Jeremy Bailey 167.55
7) Ryan Robinson 202.83 vs Mark Epstein 201.72
8) Gary Rawlings 302.03 vs Robert Berry 249.12
9) Hiroyuki Abe 145.06 vs Brad Pickett 145.06
10) Jorge Patino 184.97 vs Curtis Stout 184.97
11) Amar Suloev 184.09 vs James E Nicolle 184.97
12) Dave Strasser 170.42 vs Paul Daley 170.42
13) Dave Menne 180.78 vs Alex Reid 184.09
14) Tony Fryklund 176.37 vs Anderson Silva 184.53