Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cage Rage 21 - Update

By David West

The line-up for Cage Rage 21, to be held on April 21st at the Wembley Arena, is starting to take shape. With the UFC taking place up in Manchester on the same night, Cage Rage have brought out Bob Sapp to top the bill, facing British heavyweight Robert “Buzz” Berry. Sapp hasn’t fought since November 2005, so it will be interesting to see what shape he is in by fight night. At over 350 pounds, Sapp possesses enormous strength that more than compensates for his unpolished technique and in 11 MMA fights he has only been past the first round twice. Similarly, at 11-5-0, Berry has only been into the second round once and despite having a background in jujitsu has won most of his contests with his heavy hands. Expect this one to be short and sudden.

With Melvin Manhoef under contract to K-1 in , his World Light-Heavyweight title has fallen vacant. Fighting for the belt will be Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, from , and James Zikic, of London Shootfighters. Santos is coming off his win over Yosuke Nishijima at Pride: Final Absolute Conflict and was 3-2 last year, bringing his total record to 15-9-0. An ultra-aggressive brawler, Santos always looks for the knockout, while his fellow contender James Zikic has been inactive since September 2004. With an MMA record of 14-4-2, Zikic has been a professional boxer and competed in kickboxing, so he should have no fear of standing and trading with Santos , but the long lay-off raises the possibility of ring rust dulling his edge.

Daijiro Matsui will meet Mark Weir in an appealing grappler versus striker match. Weir needs the win, losing all three of his fights last year, and he destroyed Matsui’s countrymen Kyosuke Sasaki and Akira Shoji in 2005, so that augurs well for the British fighter. However, Matsui has a great chin and will almost certainly look to get the fight to the floor to take Weir out of his element.

Unbeaten featherweight Alex Owen will put his perfect 19-0-0 record on the line against Brad “One Punch” Pickett. Primarily a submission stylist, Owen’s biggest win to date was his last fight against Cage Warriors champion Paul McVeigh at Ultimate Fighting Revolution in . Despite his perfect record, Owen has yet to claim a major British title, while Pickett is the former Cage Rage British champion and is tough as nails. Pickett likes to fight coming forwards, throwing leather and maintaining constant pressure and will have a good chance against Owen if he can outwork him and avoid his submissions.

Cage Rage promoter Dave O’Donnell has confirmed that Vitor Belfort will be fighting on April 21st, but his opponent had not been confirmed at the time of going to press.

Other matches on the card:
Roman Webber vs. Mark Epstein
Cyrille Diabate vs. Ryan Robinson
Paul Kelly vs. Paul Daley
Xavier Foupa-Pokam vs. Alex Reid
James Evans-Nicolle vs. Matt Ewin


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