by Lee Whitehead, MMAWeekly.com
Cage Gladiators – The incumbent Liverpool, England, based promotion rounded out a successful 2008 with its final show of the year at the Olympia. A cold winter fog added an eerie chill to proceedings before entering the venue to witness the red hot action inside – including 3 title fights.

At the top of the bill, Paul Sass amazingly moved to 6-0 by recording yet another victory by way of Triangle Choke – the same submission that he won his first five fights with. Two rounds down and it looked as though Jason Ball had cracked the code and found a path to victory, his ground and pound offensive looked solid but was not quite strong enough to finish. At 1:26 of the final round disaster struck and Ball became another notch in the Triangle victim hall of fame.

In the fight of the night, the returning Mario “Sakuta” Neto succumbed to Dutch behemoth Stefan Struve by way of Rear Naked Choke. Opening his account with a forceful takedown and stamping his authority all over the first round, Neto proved that he has lost none of the highly regarded BJJ ability that he has become renowned for. However, the tide started to change in favor of Struve in the second round as the defending Cage Gladiators Heavyweight Champion nearly drove home two Kimuras before settling on the Rear Naked Choke.

With a clearly resigned expression, Neto honored his opponent’s ability and tapped to the asphyxiating hold at the 3:19 mark. An unsuccessful, but welcome return to action for the tough Brazilian in front of his adopted home crowd.

Aiden Marron dropped his Cage Gladiators Lightweight Championship to the hard charging Rob Sinclair by way of a mauling on the ground. Sinclair’s cat-like reflexes keeping him out of harm’s way as the dynamic Ulsterman attempted to setup multiple submission attempts – including a dangerously close Armbar midway through the first.

A medical check for a cut delayed the start of the second round as a clearly discombobulated Marron tried to settle into his game. He found no respite however, as Sinclair picked up exactly where he left off and blasted his way to victory via Ground and Pound at the 1:55 mark.

John Maguire moved to 10-0 with his victory over the durable Chris Rice en route to the vacant Cage Gladiators British Middleweight title. It wasn’t the most exciting of bouts and it certainly wasn’t pretty, but there was no denying the effectiveness of Maguire’s strategy in keeping the fight on the ground.

Having spent most of the first round attached limpet-like to Rice’s back; Maguire then spent the next two rounds chipping away with elbows from side control, building up a nice welt under his opponent’s left eye but failing to draw blood. Maguire kept his undefeated record intact with the unanimous decision win and moves up considerably in the British Middleweight rankings.

David Johnson ripped through experienced old-school kickboxer Colm Gillane with a standup onslaught of punches and knees before grounding the fight. Looking totally out of his depth, Gillan tried to recover to guard but was taking too much damage for the referee to let the fight go on any longer. Time was called at the 2:19 mark of the first stanza.

Neil Fraser controlled Wolfslair up and comer Leroy Barnes with superior positioning on the ground to lock out any significant Jui-Jitsu attempts. With a standup edge clearly in favor of Barnes, Fraser briefly showed a relentless display during the start of the second round and was able to keep the fight on the ground implementing his gameplan and gaining a unanimous decision at the end of the third round.

In the opening bout of the evening Aaron Smith defeated Marius Buzinskas/Marius Suyks (take your pick) by way of Rear Naked Choke at the 3:50 of round 3. It was a composed display by the Briton who left a huge hematoma above the Lithuanian’s right eye courtesy of a very measured elbow attack from guard. The key to breaking down Buzinkas was laid in the first two rounds where Smith avoided expending unnecessary energy on the ground, before turning up the heat in the final stanza to latch on the submission.

In other action Aaron Wilkinson punctuated his unanimous decision win over Murad Utasaev with two big slams. Jay Heiron made his presence felt early on in his encounter with Lee Chadwick before succumbing late in the round to a Face Crank/ Rear Naked Choke hybrid and Carl Noon demolished Nerjius Mikelatius in a wild fury of punches and knees before his corner threw in the towel at the 32 second mark of the first round.

– Paul Sass def Jason Ball via Triangle Choke 1:26 R3
– Carl Noon def Nerijius Mikelatius via submission (Corner throws in towel) 0:32 R1
– Stefan Struve def Mario Neto via RNC 3:19 R2
– Rob Sinclair def Aidon Marron via GNP 1:55 R2
– John Maguire def Chris Rice via Unanimous Decision R3
– Lee Chadwick def Jay Kieron via RNC 4:12 R1
– Arron Wilkinson def Murad Utsaev via Unanimous Decision R3
– David Johnson def Colm Gillane via GNP 2:19 R1
– Neil Fraser def Lee Barnes via Unanimous Decision
– Ashley Smith def Marius Buzinkas via RNC 3:50 R3