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Cage Rage 18 “Battleground” Preview

By Mark Pickering | September 28, 2006

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By Mark Pickering

Coming off a stellar second installment of feeder event Cage Rage: Contenders, the London-based promotion returns with their premiere pugilists and “Battleground” on Saturday, September 30th, at the new Wembley Arena.

The marquee match-up features an all-English affair as Britain’s most celebrated fighter Ian Freeman challenges Cage Rage British Light-Heavyweight Champion, heavy hitter, Mark Epstein.

Reaping the benefit of a working relationship with PRIDE FC, Chute Boxe’s Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua tangles with UFC veteran and Cage Rage mainstay Mark Weir in an intriguing middleweight contest.

In a bold addition to a stacked card, Londoner Dave Legeno matches skills with hardened vet Kimo Leopoldo.

As we’ve been conditioned to expect the undercard is peppered with highly decorated Brits and the customary array of PRIDE and UFC veterans.

Cage Rage British Light-Heavyweight Title: Ian “The Machine” Freeman vs. Mark Epstein ©

After an 18-month retirement, The Machine stepped back into the octagon at Cage Rage 17 to face Holland’s fearsome striker and reigning World Light-Heavyweight Champ Melvin Manhoef. A mere fifteen seconds and a devastating barrage of punches later Freeman laid unconscious on the canvas. Now, the Sunderland, Newcastle native, who was in the shape of his career for his ill-fated return bout, has the opportunity to register his first win on British soil since 2004 and become new LHW champion. The UFC vet has been training with the Wolfslair Gym and TUF3’s Light-Heavyweight winner Michael “The Count” Bisping for his second outing at 205 pounds.

Cage Rage’s prodigal son, Mark “The Beast” Epstein is riding a five fight win streak since his first round TKO defeat to Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos in 2005. The fiery Londoner must be prepared for the toughest defence of his title reign and a stand up war as two of England’s finest prepare to duke it out in an eagerly awaited headline contest at the Wembley Arena.

Prediction: Freeman -TKO, R2

Murilo “Ninja” Rua vs. Mark “The Wizard” Weir

Britain’s most established middleweight Mark “The Wizard” Weir, who has faced some of the sport’s most fearsome 185-pounders, once again finds himself in the unenviable position of being paired against another top international name. The Wizard, who suffered a submission defeat to Dennis Kang in his Bushido debut in February, has overcome an abundance of PRIDE alumni in Cage Rage, scoring first round wins over Kyosuke Sasaki and Akira Shoji in 2005. The ever-ready Brit will relish the opportunity to throwdown with one of the sport’s most coveted prospects and look to utilize his powerful hands to overwhelm his plucky Brazilian rival.

Chute Boxe’s Murilo”Ninja” Rua, the younger sibling of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua who won PRIDE’s 2005 Grand Prix and will accompany his brother and team-mate on September 30th, has endured a winless 2006 after entering the Bushido series in February. The 26-year-old was outfoxed by an in-form Denis Kang inside the opening minute of their Bushido 11 contest in June, two months on from a unanimous decision loss to Brazilian Top Team’s Paulo Filho, who along with Kang has reached the last four of PRIDE’s 2006 Welterweight Grand Prix and incidentally meet in the semi-finals. “Ninja” has been training tirelessly on his stand up and expects his boxing and Muay Thai skills, honed through intensive sessions with Rudimar Fedrigo and Rafael Cordeiro, to match up well with Weir’s highly respected striking.

Both men will strive to record their first victory of the year, which should make for an action-filled semi-main event contest

Prediction: “Ninja”- Sub, R2

Kimo vs. Dave Legeno

Former actor Legeno has expectedly struggled to make the transition into mixed martial arts. “The Enforcer”, who stands at 0-3 has been outclassed and outmatched in each of his professional fights. The 42-year-old was pitted against relative newcomer Alan Murdock in his pro debut, before facing PRIDE star Ikuhisa “The Punk” Minowa and Cage Rage Champion Mark Epstein. Now, in his fourth Cage Rage appearance Legeno battles his most controversial opponent, Kimo. In order to prepare for the former UFC and K-1 headliner the Elite Fighting System’s spirited combatant has been sharpening his game in the US under the tutelage of UFC Hall of Fame inductee Don Frye.

Kimo, who debuted in 1994 at UFC 3, was slated to face Bas Rutten at WFA’s comeback event in July. However, the Munich, Germany native tested positive for steroids for the second time in his career two days before the bout and was subsequently suspended by the CSAC.

Kimo’s vast experience and the stellar level of competition he’s encountered should be sufficient enough to seal an early victory in his European debut.

Prediction: Kimo, TKO, R1

Cage Rage British Heavyweight Title: Rob “The Bear” Broughton © Robert “The Buzz” Berry

Broughton was drafted as a last-minute replacement for the suspended Tengiz Tedoradze at Cage Rage 17 to face PRIDE’s James Thompson in a bout for the then vacant Cage Rage British Heavyweight Championship. The unfancied newcomer provided one of the shocks of the year as he absorbed two rounds of relentless punishment to regain his composure and KO Thompson as the vocal Wembley crowd registered their roaring approval. “The Bear”, who was a relative unknown in his Cage Rage debut, competed with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Perversely Broughton will now step into the cage to a rousing reception as a champion, in his first title defence and with an enhancing reputation on the line – which could overawe the young Liverpudlian.

Heavyweight contender Robert “The Buzz” Berry defeated PRIDE veteran Henry “Sentoryu” Miller in 66 seconds at Cage Rage 17 to accentuate his claim for a tilt at Broughton’s title. The KO specialist has compiled a 5-1 record in Cage Rage and has assured fans of a trademark first round win.

Prediction: Berry, KO, R2

Elsewhere, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ace Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro confronts Cage Rage British Lightweight Champion Abdul Mohammed.

Miletich Fighting System’s tenacious 185-pounder Tony “The Freak” Fryklund goes toe-to-toe with London Shootfighter’s Alex “The Detonator” Reid.

Topics: All Topics, Mark Pickering, MMA, UK | 4 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

4 Responses to “Cage Rage 18 “Battleground” Preview”

  1. MMA T-Shirts says:

    Some good fights on this card – particularly interested to see who wins Pickett v Oliver and assuming it’s Pickett, whether he can take a step up, maybe with a different org.

    p.s. Sunderland isn’t in Newcastle – it wouldnt go down very well if you said that to any Mackems, especially not someone who can punch as hard as Ian Freeman. 😀

  2. soldier says:

    abdul all the way man. vitor is gd but its only abdul who cn pull it off

  3. Sha says:

    Isn’t Ninja Shogun’s big brother ? I tought Shogun was only about 23-24 ?


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