Review & Photos by Lee Whitehead – MMAWeekly.com
LONDON – Cage Rage Contenders once again played out to a packed house of fans baying for mixed martial arts action at The Troxy. They were not to be denied; especially when Polish Team Titan fighter Popek Rak took to the stage in front of the manic crowd, his fight provoking them into a roaring frenzy as they made their way past the seated stalls and right up to the cage area for the duration.

From the bell it appeared that Rak was looking to use his strikes to setup the takedown. Opponent Glen Reid, who looked positively huge, was clearly intent on banging on the feet. Ultimately, Rak would have his way and for the duration of the first round attempted to stop the bout with a continuous flurry of strikes, even passing up and opportunity to close with an armbar in favor of his fists.

With an extended interlude between the first and second rounds courtesy of some over-zealous fans, they resumed, but with lactic acid clearly fatiguing both fighters. Following the second takedown, Rak mounted and just kept punching until Reid’s corner had seen enough and threw in the towel.

Having overshadowed the main event with crowd enthusiasm, Italian fighter Francisco Ligato took on London Shootfighter Francis Heagney in a short bout. The London based ex-boxer engaged early with his hands forcing Ligato to shoot. Exhibiting excellent takedown defense, he thwarted the Italian in his attempts and setup the guillotine submission to register the win – the fifth submission of its kind on the night.

Former kickboxer Jason Barrett gave Scott Janson exactly the fight he wanted by trading with him on the feet for the duration of the first round. Barrett never appeared to find his range and was on the defensive for the majority of fight. Janson was very effective in cutting off the angles and continually backed Barrett into the corners of the cage. A series of crisp strikes midway through the first opened up a cut under Barrett’s right eye. This proved to be the stopping point of the fight as the doctor declared Barrett unable to continue into the second.

“Dynamite” Dean Bray had his work cut out for him in the fight with Mark Tucker, an early mistake putting him on the ground and into red alert defending a rear naked choke attempt. Once out, he worked diligently to try and stop his tough opponent with blows, the stoppage only came towards the close of the second though, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Bray has exhibited a continual improvement in his skills, and at one point opted to bypass the typical setup for a rear naked choke in favor of a slide-over armbar attempt. Tucker proved his toughness on several occasions, thwarting the attempt with excellent awareness, but wasn’t able to offer a sustained attack long enough to change the flow in his favor. As Bray’s confidence escalated, he started to overpower his opponent.

U.K. mixed martial arts veteran Sami Berik made short work of Mark Smith, registering a brutal knockout victory nine seconds from the bell. Smith is known for having good solid hands, but he never got a chance to show them. A high kick landing flush on the chin stunned the young fighter before the veteran stepped in with a right-left hook combination to put him out cold.

In what was an exceptionally classy and aware move, Berik stepped back, immediately aware that Smith was gone and refrained from providing any further unnecessary damage. “I knew he was out. I wouldn’t want anyone to ever do that to me. It’s about respect,” stated the Turkish fighter.

Crowd favorite Matt Lane was working his counters really well against opponent Edgeleson Lue during their bout, scoring with some good shots early on, but a brief moment where his hands dropped was all the invitation Lue needed. He stepped in with a right cross and big left hook on the tail of it to put Lane down and out of the fight. Many in attendance may have initially thought the stoppage was early, but referee Grant Waterman made exactly the right call stepping in, Lane’s lack of protestations testament to the fact.

Team Tsunami fighter Jack Mason made excellent work of avoiding the heavy hands of opponent Kym Farid, ducking under a brutal spinning backfist and a series of big hooks to avoid damage during the bout. Farid looked full of intent and was swinging for the fences at every opportunity, but Mason remained composed and kept working to bring the fight to the mat closing the distance well.

A brief attempt at a standing Kimura signaled with submission intent of Mason. Though unsuccessful, it showed that he was intent on providing a decisive finish. At 4:03, he got his wish as a hard fought guillotine choke slid home to force the tap.

Heavyweight brawler Kev Sims took on the very aggressive Chris Greig, avoiding the standup and working his patented ground and pound attack, his weight distribution proving to be a major factor in preventing Grieg from improving position or escaping from the bottom. Working effective position from the top, Sims made a solid run at a Kimura submission and transitioned into a straight armbar attempt. It was this move that provided Greig all the invitation he needed to secure a side choke on his adversary. Sims’ attempt at the submission overcommitted his shoulder and right arm. From the bottom, Greig locked on the hold and kept tightening until the tap.

If Portuguese fighter Tony Pasos could blueprint a fight, this is how it would run: Takedown, Position, Strike, Rear Naked Choke… that is exactly what happened in his fight against Mamarizaev Jahongir, and pretty much an exact replay of his fight at Contenders 3 against Dan Mohavedi – a well deserved win for the London Shootfighter.

Azzran Quasid registered a knockout victory over Rick Andrews in their fight by way of a vicious knee strike. Early on both fighters were struggling to find their mark with strikes, but as the fight wore on, both started to find a groove. Andrews was very effective in backing Quasid up in a straight line into the cage and tried to unleash a flurry, but covering well, Quasid remained composed and avoided any significant damage. At exactly 3:00 into the round, Quasid threw a straight kick; prompting Andrews to attempt a leg snatch, but in failing ate an oncoming knee to turn the lights out.

In other action, Marius Sukys defeated lightweight fighter Danny Fletcher via guillotine choke. Richard Griffin made a successful debut employing the guillotine on Paddy Moore. Uvais Namiew forced a TKO stoppage on Jody Cottham and Steven Dossett continued the guillotine charm by submitting Robert Powell in their entertaining bout.

-Francis Heagney def. Francesco Ligato by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 1:07, R1
-Popek Rak def. Glen Reid by Submission (Corner threw in towel) at 1:56, R2
-Scott Janson def. Jason Barrett by TKO at 5:00, R1
-Dean Bray def. Mark Tucker by TKO (Strikes) at 4:12, R2
-Marius Sukys def. Danny Fletcher by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 2:17, R1
-Sami Berik def. Mark Smith by KO at 0:09, R1
-Edgeleson Lue def. Matt Lane by TKO at 2:12, R1
-Jack Mason def. Kym Farid by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 4:03, R1
-Tony Pasos def. Mamarizaev Jahongir by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:24, R1
-Chris Greig def. Kev Sims by Submission (Side Choke) at 2:08, R1
-Steven Dossett def. Robert Powell by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 3:39, R1
-Azzy Quasid def. Rick Andrews by KO at 3:00, R1
-Richard Griffin def. Paddy Moore by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 1:44, R1
-Uvais Namiev def. Jody Cottham by TKO at 1:27, R1