Cage Rage 25 played out to a full house at the Wembley Arena of 8,300 people who witnessed a blinder of a card featuring the legend Ken Shamrock fall to the hands of Robert Buzz Berry via first round knockout. Berry has cemented his place in British mixed martial arts history with the win was ecstatic with the victory.
From early on in the round it appeared as though Shamrock was tentative and unwilling to fully commit to a striking offense. When he did step in, he had to deal with a larger deficit in reach as well as an opponent who wouldn't be drawn into a brawling exchange. Berry had instead preferred to circle and pick off two-punch combinations; a tactic that gained effectiveness as the fight wore on.
Shamrock caught a few shots on occasion, forcing him to try and close the distance. It appeared as though Berry had the advantage in strength and was able to avoid being drawn to the canvas. At 3:26 into the first round, a series of blows sent the UFC Hall of Famer crashing to the canvas and out of the contest.
Masakazu Imanari wasted no time in proving his grappling credentials to the world by submitting the highly regarded Brazilian Jean Silva by way of a brutal reverse heel hook 2:30 into the first round. From the bell, Imanari came out looking to land some kicks before setting up a takedown to bring the fight into his comfort zone. Once there, his fluid transition from submission to submission continually left his opponent on the back foot. From rubber guard to omo plata to Achilles crush, the flow of attack was spectacular and it was only a matter of time before something took hold and the Japanese fighter retained his world featherweight crown.
Neil Grove engaged former British heavyweight champion Rob Broughton in a measured and mature display of aggression, only narrowly missing out on victory by virtue of Broughton landing more effective strikes. Grove seemed content to maintain his distance and to deliver low point kicks to aggravate his opponent's previously injured leg, but the strategy started to unravel as Broughton figured his own range out and began to land effective strikes.
This is the first time Grove has been pushed to the distance, and his improvement over his last fight is clearly underlined, but experience and durability worked its way to the surface as Broughton picked up the majority decision win.
Pierre Guillet will be left to rue his high-risk attempt at a flying strike over the guard of downed opponent Tom Watson, who connected flush with an up-kick to Guillet and opened up previous scar tissue on the American fighter's face. Up until this point Guillet had been having major success in the bout picking his shots to setup his takedowns. He appeared to have the right strategy for Watson and it just goes to show that at this level all it takes is one mistake to cost you a fight. Watson sensed the opportunity as soon as it arose and wasted no time in pounding on Guillet to stop the fight.
Mustapha Al-Turk has proven time and again that his strongest position in a fight is to be on top and applying his heavy hands in a ground and pound attack. Unfortunately for Gary Turner, he found himself on the bottom of Al-Turks patented strategy following a failed attempt at a straight kick that was caught and used to force him to the canvas. Three separate attempts to get out from underneath proved fruitless as Al-Turk was effective in maintaining his base whilst landing heavy shots to the side of Turner's head. At 3:19 into the round, acknowledging that Turner was unable to improve his position, the referee stepped in to call time on the bout and recorded Turner's first loss in the promotion.
Ivan Serati continued his ascent in the light heavyweight division by virtue of a knockout win over Roman Webber in a bout that lasted a grand total of 48 seconds. From the bell, Webber shot over to his opponent's corner and threw a telegraphed overhand right, allowing the Italian wrestler to scoop him up and dump him on his back into the cage. It didn't take long for him to position himself at the best angle for the attack before firing in brutal, precise shots to record the knockout; an impressive display for the Italian. It won't be long before he is taking on the top fighters in the division.
Henrique Santana impressed all in attendance with his win over the highly regarded welterweight Michael Johnson. Traditionally, we have seen Santana come into a fight looking spectacular for the first round, but blowing quite hard for the remaining rounds. He has clearly addressed this element of his game as he continually set the pace against his opponent.
Johnson faired well in avoiding submission danger throughout the rounds and didn't appear to be taking too much damage with the strikes either. But the key deciding factors of Santana's victory were his ability to continually record the takedowns and to control position on the ground. By the time the third stanza rolled into view, it was apparent that Johnson would need to stop the fight in order to win, but he never found his opening to do so. Santana makes a welcome addition to the Cage Rage roster.
Aisling Daly looked calm and confident in her win over debuting fighter Aysen Berik in the women's 58kg match-up. As soon as the first bell rang, Daly shot straight across the cage and planted a big right square into her opponent's face, forcing her to clinch up and protect. Daly kept coming forward though and used her experience to bring the fight to the mat.
Almost holding on too long to a guillotine that wasn't going to present a finish, Berik ended up compromising her position by allowing her opponent to mount. From here Daly appeared relentless in trying to force the stoppage via ground and pound. There was a flailing arm ready to be submitted at several points of the bout, but mindful of not making any mistakes and being hell bent on recording a win on her Cage Rage debut, Daly just kept hammering home the shots until the referee called time on the bout at 1:49.
Giorgio Andrews and Ryan Shamrock had an absolute tear up in their bantamweight bout and both fighters should be proud of their performance; it was a true back and forth battle of the wills. As soon as the bell rang, Shamrock landed a big right hand signaling his intent and followed it up with a solid takedown. Andrews was completely at ease from his back though and managed to avoid danger before getting back to his feet. From there, the pair kept trading shot for shot and swinging for the fences with both connecting well with their punches.
Unfortunately, we were denied a war into the second round, as Shamrock was unable to continue due to a broken hand. As it turns out, his opening shot proved to be the impact that caused the break and he did exceptionally well to fight the way he did in the first round considering the damage.
John Hathaway looked to be calm and relaxed in his fight against Marvin Arnold, who by contrast looked to be nervous and unsettled. This was apparent as much from the opening exchange where Arnold threw a low point kick that prompted Hathaway to shoot immediately and to pass quickly to the mount. He started to pick his shots calmly before stepping up the pace as soon as he realized that Arnold wasn't offering much defense en route to recording a successful main stage Cage Rage debut.
Jake Bostwick started his match aggressively with a big takedown into side control following a low kick on opponent John Phillips and was controlling the pace of the fight well. As soon as Phillips was able to get back up to his feet, Bostwick would use his knee's effectively from the clinch before bringing him down again. It wasn't until Phillips landed a big right hand to put Bostwick down that the tide of the fight changed and Bostwick found himself in survival mode.
Sensing that he had registered pain on his opponent, Phillips started to unleash a heavy handed ground and pound attack forcing the referee to halt the bout amid controversy of a possible strike to the throat. It was difficult to tell how clear the shot to the throat was, but in any case it was clearly unintentional. Some may feel that a time out may have been in order and others may say that the stoppage was just, but in any case, Bostwick was already hurt from the previous standing exchange and looked to be in trouble leading up to the stoppage. Both were good sports afterwards though and there was no animosity. Phillips records the win via technical knockout from a strong ground and pound attack.
-Robert Berry def. Ken Shamrock via KO at 3:26, R1
-Masakazu Imanari def. Jean Silva via Submission (Reverse Heel Hook) at 2:30, R1
-Rob Broughton def. Neil Grove via Majority Decision, R3
-Tom Watson def. Pierre Guillet via KO at 2:05, R1
-Mustapha Al-Turk def. Gary Turner via TKO (Strikes) at 3:19, R1
-Ivan Serati def. Roman Webber via KO at 0:48, R1
-Henrique Santana def. Michael Johnson via Unanimous Decision, R3
-Aisling Daly def. Aysen Berik via TKO (Strikes) at 1:49, R1
-Giorgio Andrews def. Ryan Shamrock via TKO at 5:00, R1
-John Hathaway def. Marvin Arnold via TKO (Strikes) at 1:32, R1
-John Phillips def. Jake Bostwick via TKO (Strikes) at 4:10, R1