Photos & Article by Lee Whitehead, MMAWeekly.com


Cage Rage Contenders
Hammersmith Palais
November 12, 2006

This event marks the third show in the Contenders promotion and the first in the Hammersmith Palais venue. A great venue with a lot of atmosphere and access, the only quibble being a lack of clear lighting; one thing is for certain the Hammersmith locals have come out in force to support the event.

For those who are unaware, contenders serves as a feeder show for the main Cage Rage events, a place where fighters can prove themselves worthy or indeed regroup if they have already had a bit at the main event apple and come up short. Some of the key UK regulars are on this card, but not all of their bouts going as planned…

Sergio Ussanov vs Andrew Burnett
A sloppy match to start the night, but in all fairness the only one of the night! Both fighters showed they have a long way to go before becoming complete professional MMA fighters. Ussanov was presented with a yellow card for repeatedly grabbing the fence and then proceeded to knee his opponent in the jewels for good measure!

Burnett for his part started of confidently with a spinning backfist and a good jab, but having been grounded and pounded for the best part of the first round, was unable to recover from the groin shot thus marking the opening bout as a No Contest.

Tony Pasos vs Dan Mohavedi
Pasos is a tough guy, I have seen him sparring with Alex Reid and fairing pretty well, although I expected him to come out striking more in this bout. Circling at first to keep out of the pocket, he closed early with a decent shoot, driving deep and able to turn his opponent. Exhibiting superior positioning on the ground he forces Mohavedi to turn securing the hooks and in turn the RNC for the win at the 1:56 mark of round one.

Mohavedi never really got a chance to show his skills in the bout, Pasos appeared to have a gameplan from the off and stuck to it perfectly for the win.

Darren Russell vs Harvey Harra
Russell lands a solid high-kick from the bell at full force prompting Harra to shoot instinctively – the shot was blocked but I suspect that given the obvious power it was deliver with it produced a change of plan very quickly.

Russell sprawled effectively shutting the takedown off with Harra transitioning into full guard. Sometimes in MMA you have passive guard fighters and Harra isn’t one of them, he worked swiftly by pushing off the hips of his opponent to come round for the armbar, securing the tap at the 0:50 second mark and flipping his opponent in the process.

Steve Elliot vs Jason Young
One thing about these Contenders boys is that they are keen to press the action. Young was looking solid with the low kicks landing comprehensively; Elliot closes fast and proceeds to hip throw his opponent down unfortunately over-extending himself and getting turned in the process.

Young drives him across the cage and stacks him against the pillar, throwing right hands in deep and getting caught in a tight armbar off the cage from Elliot’s back prompting the referee to separate them. Elliot wins via armbar submission 3:59 R1

Dorlan O’Malley vs Danny Cornwall
Cornwall came into the fight completely unprepared for the O’Malley onslaught. No sooner had the round started and Cornwall had his opponent up close and personal connecting an overhand right followed by a high kick and massive knee that sent him tumbling to the canvas.

With no time to gather his senses O’Malley was on top landing punch after punch forcing a verbal submission due to strikes at the 38 second mark of the first.

Jake Bostwick vs Marvin Bleau
Bit of history coming into this fight… both fighters have agreed to combine purses for the winner, this is off the back of Bleau having previously recorded a victory of Bostwicks’ father at the previous contenders show.

So from the off both are swinging wild, Bostwick connecting with the jab and exhibiting an great sprawl, keeping a low base, he is active with the forearm smashes to the back of his opponent, none worthy of serious damage but clearly money in the bank as the fight wears on, only briefly in danger fighting off a valiant attempt at a kneebar.

The second round follows the pattern laid down during the first with Bostwick closing off all takedown attempts and eventually reversing Bleau to setup the Ground and Pound attack until the referee steps in at the 1:05 mark of the second.

Rocci Williams vs Ed Smith
Short fight here, Smith charges Williams from the bell pressurising his opponent and expending a lot of energy – a hook / cross / hook combo lands flush slumping Williams into Smith, who proceeds to tee off anyway recording a TKO win at 1:16

Marios Zaromskis vs Dariusz Swierkosz
This was a gameplan fight through and through, Swierkosz wants to bring the fight to the ground and Zaromskis likes it standing; So the first round runs the path of striker versus grappler in the traditional sense… kick, shoot, sprawl, guard, restart.

Expecting round two to follow the same path and perhaps underestimating his opponent, Swierkosz gets sloppy in the guard landing himself in a tight triangle choke. Zaromskis has a bucket load of talent standing but his submission win has really come out of the blue, not least of all to his team who were sighing and groaning every time he was taken down. I think he impressed his own team more than he impressed the audience – in any case, an excellent turnaround in a fight that was heading for a snore-fest!

Sami Berik vs Andre Winner
Major upset! Berik has secured himself a fight at Pride Bushido and comes into this fight on a three-fight win streak. He was favourite for the night but also under a lot of pressure to perform as all eyes in the UK scene are on him.

Unfortunately, for three rounds Winner beats him to the punch, dominates him on the ground and just plain outworks him. Berik finds himself on the wrong end of a brutal armbar (see gallery) and somehow manages to survive only to land in a triangle – and still survives!

The third round finds Berik unable to sway a decision and leaving the only option of stopping his opponent. His unorthodox style isn’t working for him and he is suffering badly from having been battered for the best part of 10 minutes. Winner keeps the pressure on to record a third round TKO stoppage at the 1:50 mark, upsetting the Turkish fighter and making you wonder where this places him in the Bushido show?

Michael Johnson vs Andy Walker
Pretty boring fight by all accounts, not by any fault of Johnson but his opponent seemed content to just hold him into guard and offer no offence at all. Johnson seems tentative in the stand-up and almost reluctant to let his right hand go; Walker doesn’t have the measure of him standing and doesn’t do anything on the ground.

To further frustrate Johnson, Walker quits for no apparent reason at the 2:43 mark of the second making you wonder why he took the fight in the first place?

Che Mills vs Paul Taylor
Mills is a Mark Weir student fighting out of the Range Fighting academy and clearly the influence of “The Wizard” shows, he is crisp on his feet and devastating in the clinch. He had the measure of Taylor from the start; landing combos with pinpoint accuracy before securing an excellent clinch reminiscent of Wanderlei Silva – landing a knee flush to the forehead of his opponent, opening a nasty cut and sending him reeling toward the fence.

Sensing the vulnerability of his prey he works for the hip pull takedown, landing on Taylor’s side and working for the back – at this moment a horn sounds from an idiot in the audience that sounds remarkably like the end of round signal, both fighters look at the ref for clarification – I clearly heard Taylor asking: “was that was the bell?”

Grant tells them it wasn’t and to carry on, but by this point Mills had slipped his arm in for the RNC. I don’t think the outcome would have changed but it is clear that the fight was affected. A consummate professional, Taylor accepted the loss without protestation or malice, the idiot in the audience however, needs to be sourced and lined up for Taylor’s next fight!

Lee Dorski vs Dean Bray
Dorski comes into the fight as a last minute replacement, stepping up to fill the shoes of Bray’s original opponent who withdrew due to training injury. The question is this: will Dorski be passive (as we have sometimes seen) and did he have long enough to train?

Well, early indications of the round gave the impression that Bray was going to have his way looking solid on his feet and landing kicks at will. But after about 3 minutes getting the better of the exchanges and overcomitting on a high kick sent him crashing to the canvas. Almost stalling through the unexpectedness of the fall, Dorski pounced on his felled opponent and worked for the back, eventually securing the RNC for the win at the 4:35 mark.

Gracious in Defeat, although looking perturbed at his own mistake, Bray congratulated his opponent on a job well done. Classy guy!

Roll on the 9th at Earls Court for the 2006 UK MMA send-off!