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Thursday, Jun 29, 2006

Cage Rage 17 “ultimate Challenge” En Route To Attendance Recordweigh-ins Clear 12 Bouts For Saturday

Manhoef (left) vs. Freeman
Cage Rage 17 "Ultimate Challenge" en Route to Attendance Record
Weigh-ins Clear 12 Bouts for Saturday

Report & photos by David West

With England still in the soccer World Cup, spirits were high at the weigh-ins for Cage Rage 17 "Ultimate Challenge" despite the loss of several bouts, including the former main event Tank Abbott versus Amokrane Sabet, cancelled after Sabet tore his abdominal muscles in training. With the fight card going from fifteen to twelve matches, the new headlining bout between Ian "The Machine" Freeman and "The Manhunter" Melvin Manhoef promises fireworks in abundance and has captured the attention of the British fans. Freeman is coming out of retirement and making his first appearance as a light heavyweight against the explosive Dutchman who stopped Shungo Oyama in his last fight at K-1 Hero’s.

Tengiz Tedoradze was scheduled to defend his British Heavyweight title against James Thompson, but Tedoradze was knocked out just two weeks ago at 2 Hot 2 Handle in Holland, disqualifying himself from competing. Cage Rage has stripped the belt from Tedoradze and its new holder will be either Thompson or his opponent Rob Broughton, who has not fought the same level of opposition as PRIDE veteran Thompson and will be in need of an upset.

James Thompson

Fighting away from PRIDE for the first time will be one of Thompson’s previous opponents Henry "Sentoryu" Miller, who will face British slugger Robert "Buzz" Berry. At 1-4-0 Miller needs the win, while Berry (9-4-0) is coming off a loss by submission to Dan Severn and will be equally hungry for the victory.

Curtis Stout had originally hoped to mix it up with Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos, but with Santos signing with PRIDE, Stout will now face Zelg Galesic, of Croatian origin but now training with Trojan Free Fighters, home camp of James Thompson. Galesic looked sharp knocking out Michael Holmes at Cage Rage 15, but will be stepping up in class to meet the more experienced American.

Galesic (left) vs. Stout
Galesic vs. Stout

Tough Japanese fighter Daijiro Matsui will meet the U.S. Air Force’s Pierre Guillet in a match-up of two talented grapplers. Matsui beat Curtis Stout by decision in his last match, while Guillet similarly took a decision off Frenchman Laurent Bonafoux at European Vale Tudo in May.

Guillet (left) vs. Matsui Gilbert Yvel
Guillet vs. Matsui Yvel

Guillet’s training partner Robbie Olivier had hoped to get his rematch with Featherweight Champion Brad Pickett, but with Pickett out with an injury, Olivier will be facing Mark Chen, who has been clamouring for a shot at Pickett on various Internet forums. Chen will have to get past the very durable Olivier to earn his shot at the crown.

Cage Rage 17 will be the first MMA event held at the Wembley Arena, which has a maximum capacity of 7,500 people for tomorrow’s show. At the time of the weigh-in, almost 6,000 tickets had been sold, which bodes well for the promotion and may be a record attendance for an MMA event in the UK.

Cage Rage 17 "Ultimate Challenge" Weigh-in Results

  • Ian Freeman (204 lbs / 92.5 kg) vs. Melvin Manhoef (203 lbs / 92 kg)
  • James Thompson (282 lbs / 128 kg) vs. Rob Broughton (did not weigh in)
  • Gilbert Yvel (236 lbs / 107 kg) vs. Fabiano Scherner (264.5 lbs / 120 kg)
  • Curtis Stout (185 lbs / 83.9 kg) vs. Zelg Galesic (184 lbs / 83.5 kg)
  • Henry Miller (251 lbs / 114 kg) vs. Robert Berry (248 lbs / 112.5 kg)
  • Mark Epstein (203 lbs / 92 kg) vs. Dave Legeno (218 lbs / 99 kg)
  • Daijiro Matsui (183 lbs / 83 kg) vs. Pierre Guillet (184.5 lbs / 83.7 kg)
  • Jean Silva (161 lbs / 73 kg) vs. Abdul Mohamed (161 lbs / 73 kg)
  • Ross Mason (170 lbs / 77.3 kg) vs. Paul Daley (170 lbs / 77.3 kg)
  • David Balenkiham (169 lbs / 77 kg) vs. Phil Norman (169 lbs / 76.5 kg)
  • Mark Chen (145 lbs / 65.8 kg) vs. Robbie Olivier (144 lbs / 65.7 kg)
  • Darren Guisha (169 lbs / 77 kg) vs. Dean Bray (169 lbs / 77 kg)

Olivier Battles for Title Contendership at Saturday’s Cage Rage 17
By Eduardo Alonso

As the European MMA scene widens, the "old continent’s" biggest stage is proving to be England and its standout promotion Cage Rage. Among its accomplishments, Cage Rage has created exposure for some deserved British fighters who are starting to get more attention in the bigger MMA circles – from Michael Bisping’s dominant "TUF 3" performances to James Thompson’s PRIDE appearances. Behind them, however, a local pool of fighters is battling for their space on the bigger stages, one being a pioneer of the UK scene in firefighter Robbie Olivier. Having fought in the very first Cage Rage event, judo black belt Olivier is ready for yet one more battle as Cage Rage’s 17th edition this Saturday against Mark Chen, a bout for contendership of champion Brad Pickett’s featherweight (145-pound) title.

FCF: I understand you come from a judo background. Lately, some judo players have been achieving success in MMA, and other high caliber judo players have been coming to the sport. How do you feel judo adapts to MMA, and what do you think of so many Olympic judo players coming to our sport?
RO:   Yes, I started judo at the age of six. It was the first combat sport that I had tried and at the time it was probably the most physical sport you could do as a child in the UK, so it has been a good grounding for me and fighting. For me, it’s great to watch top judoka in MMA, as long as they have been training at a quality MMA gym. Like all arts in MMA, by itself judo is not complete enough for the sport. I think apart from the obvious, like takedowns and ground control, judo players generally do well in MMA because of the way competitive judo is trained, with intension when applying the techniques, which also helps conditioning. Basically, judo guys are usually very tough (Laughs)

FCF: Being a judo black belt yourself, how did you make the transition to MMA, and what did you find the most difficult part to adapt?
RO:   I came from a judo club that had a high standard of ground fighting for the UK, so when I started MMA I was already at advantage as the UK hadn’t really got any good BJJ clubs here. When I saw the first UFC I knew this was the sport for me, but I also knew I needed to learn stand-up so I started Thai boxing. I don’t really see myself as a judo player in MMA as I think I have evolved and am always trying to become more of a rounded fighter.

FCF: I know you’re also a firefighter in the UK. How do you manage to do such a grueling work, and still train and teach?
RO:   Its tough to get the right training in around shifts, but I think the key is to organize training sessions well and in advance. Luckily my teammate Pierre Guillet lives close by me and the gym, so we can always get extra sessions in. Also the guys at the fire station are very supportive and try to help me with my preparations the best they can.

FCF: The MMA scene in the UK seems to be growing a lot. What do you think of the current level of British fighters and where do you see the sport going in the UK?
RO:   I think now some the top guys in the UK are ready to make noise on the world scene, especially with promotions like Cage Rage that are starting to be recognized around the world. But I would like to see a better amateur circuit to groom the talent and raise the technical levels before fighting pro.

FCF: Your last bout was for Cage Rage’s British title and had somewhat of a controversial result, where you lost a judges’ decision that many thought you had won. How did you feel about that fight and the decision?
RO:   Well the problem was, I knew I couldn’t leave it to the judges, but I did, so only I’m to blame for that, saying that I can’t see how I lost, I even had people coming up to me after the fight saying, "I’m a friend of Brad but you won that fight." But I’ve put that behind me now and it just made me more determined to be the next Cage Rage champ.

FCF: Do you want a rematch with Brad Pickett, and is that on the plans for the near future?
RO:   Well, I was supposed to be fighting him on this show as a rematch, but he pulled out due to injury, funny enough now I’m having to fight for the number one contender spot before I get a chance at Brad – not the best situation, but its no problem. No one wants this as much as I do.

FCF: Now you’re fighting Mark Chen at the next Cage Rage. What do you think of him as an opponent?
RO:   He’s an intelligent guy, just finished his PhD I’m told, I think he sees me as a route to Brad and the title, but I have other ideas. He is actually a very well rounded fighter with quick hands, but I question his mental attitude.

FCF: How was your training for the fight? Did you and teammate Pierre Guillet, who’s fighting Daijiro Matsui on the same card, train any specific strategies for both bouts?
RO:   Yeah, of course, but we haven’t changed our individual style for each opponent, just worked hard at a game plan that’s flexible.

FCF: The best of luck in your fight and thanks for the interview!
RO:   Thanks very much, always a pleasure mate. I just like to say thanks to everyone that’s helped me with my preparations: Tsunami Gym, August Wallen and Shooters MMA, Musclefinesse and, of course, my family and friends. Cheers!

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posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 8:00 pm
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