Tedoradze Defends Cage Rage Title

Jul 15, 2007
LONDON, July 14 -- Returning to Wembley Arena for another night of action, Cage Rage 22 "Hard as Hell" delivered some spectacular finishes, including the shocking knock out of James Thompson (Pictures) on a card headlined by Eric Esch (Pictures) taking on Tengiz Tedoradze (Pictures).

At the start of the main event, Tedoradze hammered "Butterbean" in the clinch with short punches, but quite understandably looked out of ideas when it came to taking down the gargantuan restaurant-owner.

Employing his solid but imperfect boxing to good affect, Tedoradze looked comfortable on the feet until a huge left hook from Esch dropped him to the floor, setting the alarm bells ringing in the Georgian's corner.

Pouncing on his fallen opponent, Esch went in for the finish, but Tedoradze recovered quickly, instinctively scrambling off his back to take position on the out-classed American. With Butterbean unable to do anything but shelter from the stream of punches, referee Grant Waterman called a stop to the contest 30 seconds before the end of the first round.

Drafted in with just over 24 hours notice, late replacement, Neil Grove (Pictures) shocked the entire house as he fearlessly stormed towards PRIDE veteran James Thompson (Pictures) and caught him with a pair of right hands that finished the contest in only 10 action-packed seconds.

Both fighters caught each other in the initial exchange, but Grove landed by far the better shot in the second, sending James backwards. Chasing his opponent down, Grove was quicker to the punch and caught Thompson on the side of the head with a brutal right hand that sent him into the floor, face-first.

Without doubt earning himself a repeat booking, Grove became the second unfancied late replacement to shock the Megapunk at Wembley, devastating the Bristol man and sending him to his third straight defeat on the Cage Rage promotion.

In his Cage Rage debut, Mario Sperry (Pictures) showed his dominance over Lee Hasdell (Pictures), taking him to the floor within the first 20 seconds of the contest en route to an impressive first round victory.

The Milton Keynes fighter worked hard from his half-guard to regain his feet, but the Brazilian would not be denied, twisting and turning to keep Hasdell pinned to the mat. Finishing with a rear-naked choke in less than two minutes, it was an impressive jiu-jitsu demonstration from Sperry, reminiscent of an old-school style-versus-style match-up.

Edson Drago looked pumped up and by far the more athletic of the two fighters in his encounter with Gary "Smiler" Turner -- but looks can be deceptive, as Turner brought the crowd to their feet by getting the better of the exchanges with the tough Brazilian.

In the second round, both fighters showed the signs of battle -- a nasty cut to Drago and a badly swollen eye in the case of the Britishman -- and each was checked in turn by the doctor. Both made it to the end of the round, but after a consultation with his corner, Drago decided not to come out for the third round, citing a damaged neck as he conceded the contest.

James McSweeney (Pictures) showed some surprising ground skill in his highly pressurised MMA debut against Mark Buchanan (Pictures). Taking the fight to the ground quickly, McSweeney soon found himself on his back after a beautiful sweep by Buchanan, but quickly recovered position and bashed the London fighter from mount position for a no nonsense 90-second stoppage win.

In a fight that promised fireworks, Mark Epstein (Pictures) and Paul Cahoon each showed a great deal of respect and were surprisingly restrained in their three-round battle of attrition. Clearly excited to be in the fight, Cahoon whooped with delight in the second round as he caught Epstein, turning his head and sending a spray of sweat across the canvas.

Implementing a tight game plan, Cahoon was competitive on the feet, but caught the eye of the judges in each round as he took Epstein down, chipping away at the South Londoner to earn the unanimous decision.

The fight between Ronnie Mann (Pictures) and Robbie Olivier (Pictures) was an interesting, but far from flashy spectacle as the two grappling talents essentially cancelled each other out in the ground.

With the young Trojan fighter appearing wary of committing to any meaningful shots, Olivier repeatedly took him to the floor but, entangled in Mann's tricky guard, was unable to improve position.

Undeterred, "The Flame" chipped away at his opponent on the floor to win the unanimous decision.

Cage Rage is becoming known for setting up matches that promise to deliver stand-up wars and the mouth-watering encounter between Marios Zaromskis and Ross "The Boss" Mason lived up to the high expectations.

In the early exchanges, the London Shootfighter seemed to have an answer for everything that Mason threw at him, using superb timing to consistently counter the Birmingham man with kicks to the body.

Early in the second round, Mason tried to use his size advantage to bull forward and force the issue, but instead found himself on the end of a few hard shots that made him attempt takedowns. Zaromskis, however, defended well and later showed his own slick takedown skills, executing a rare German suplex to further rile the Britishman.

The frustration took its toll on Mason in the third round. After absorbing a glancing high kick, he dropped his hands and scowled in defiance. Zaromskis didn't hesitate for a second, leaping in the air with a deceptive jump knee that landed flush and sent Mason crashing to the ground two minutes into the final round.

The first period of the bout between Ross Pointon (Pictures) and Dean Bray (Pictures) was a crazy back-and-forth struggle, littered with punching exchanges, takedowns and reversals. Bray seemed slightly put off by the confidence of his more experienced opponent, but it didn't stop him from firing in a series of looping overhand rights as he pushed the pace in the stand-up.

Pointon, however, was not concerned by the younger man's aggression, dishing out some of his own spiteful ground-and-pound, before going on to take victory with a guillotine choke, finally putting an oxygen mask on his still quite promising career.

Damien "Big Problem" Riccio put in another gutsy performance in his battle with London Shootfighter Michael Johnson, but in the end there was a clear winner as Johnson pounded the Frenchman for two solid rounds.

Using his explosive clinch game, Johnson reversed a takedown attempt from Riccio, driving him into the floor, before laying in some heavy shots. The Shootfighter's ground assault took its toll over 10 minutes, forcing a doctor's stoppage due to a badly broken nose after the end of round two.

Tom "Kong" Watson put in a measured performance as he avoided the stand-up bombs of his dangerous opponent, Ed "Smasher" Smith, to dominate on the scorecards. Escaping from an extremely painful looking Kimura attempt, Smith struggled on, sustaining a terrible beating to his lead leg, before dropping a unanimous decision.

In the floater bout that was eventually slotted onto the card as the penultimate bout, Dave Legeno (Pictures) lived up to his on-screen hardman-brawler persona by literally running towards his bewildered opponent, Herb Dean (Pictures), chasing him all round the cage. Clearly thrown by this tactic, Dean relied on making space and throwing single shots with full power.

Unfortunately for Dean, best known for refereeing some of the biggest fights in North America, he failed to land a significant shot and later received a thumb to the eye on the floor, which forced him to withdraw from the contest.
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