Cage Warriors 152 Preview; Hardwick v Liasse

The BEC Arena in Manchester will once again host Cage Warriors this Saturday. The Stretford venue is home to Cage Warriors 152 and boasts a thirteen-fight card, including one for CW gold.

George Hardwick (11-1) makes his first appearance of the year, defending his CW Lightweight Championship for the second time. The Middlesbrough man won the title via TKO against Kyle Driscoll last July, and then saw off Chris Bungard with a similar finish in November. The 26-year-old’s bodywork belongs in the Louvre. You rarely see such rip-roaring shots as often as you do in a Hardwick fight. Your instincts tell you to grapple him, leaving you prone to his picture perfect guillotine. The Englishman is arriving into his peak years. Yann Liasse (9-1) is a brand new signing and arrives from KSW. Luxembourg’s number one fighter is a decorated IMMAF veteran at amateur, and has looked sensational as a pro. A very recognisable man due to his fantastic hair, his grappling is even more impressive. The wrestling is very strong and he transitions beautifully into submissions. On the feet, he’s a very competitive striker who has a little bit of pzaz and takes risks. This is a fight that wouldn’t look out of place in the UFC.

When Reece McEwan had to pull out of the fight recently, Nathan Fletcher (7-1) didn’t hesitate to pick up the phone and agreed to jump in at the last minute. The Next Gen Liverpool prospect comes in hot off a decision win in December to Alessandro Giordano. The 25-year-old is a grappling whizz and his rear naked choke is the coup de grâce. He’s shown great leaps in the striking game fight by fight to round his game out. Daan Duijs (8-1) had a nice triangle choke win in his debut last May. After a spell on the side-lines due to injury, the Dutchman is looking to restart his climb to the top of the division. The Gracie Barra BJJ practitioner is lethal off his back and has a very heavy top game where he lands big shots, forcing you to give up position or take the ground and pound loss. The ground battle here will be very interesting.

Andy Clamp (11-2) makes his second appearance following defeat to Chuck Campbell in December. The English light heavyweight is a heavy hitter on the feet and has a lovely submission game to match. He puts his long limbs to great use with triangles and armbars. Ghassan Abdenabi (4-0) is a tall kickboxer. Like many of his big Dutch compatriots, he also has a sneaky submission in him. Not often you get the big men on the card, so enjoy it while you can.

James Power (4-0) is a name you’ll find high up on the prospect list on the U.K. scene. The Englishman burst onto the CW scene with a nice TKO win over Adam Shelley, putting his knees and fists to devastating use. The Atherton Submission Wrestling man will have the home crowd on his side and he has an absolutely wicked kickboxing game. The head kick is lethal. Łukasz Kopera (11-7) is his most experienced test to date. The Pole won via heel hook last November and will want to keep the momentum going. The Łódź trained man is a competitive, well-rounded fighter, with power to end it on the feet and skill to get the tap in multiple positions.

Adam Cullen (6-0) is another top prospect out of Next Gen Liverpool. The 25-year-old has been a grappling machine since strapping on the yellow gloves as a pro. The first round is his happy place and is where the hopes of his opponents are extinguished. Ground and pound, rear naked chokes, anacondas and strikes, he always finds a way to get it done early. Dumitru Girlean (5-1) comes in from Venator. The Italian is well rounded and a natural finisher. He mixes his kickboxing with a submission threat well. The 28-year-old’s sole loss was via rear naked choke, and that may be his biggest test on the night.

Luke Riley (5-0) is perhaps the biggest prospect out of Next Gen Liverpool, and as you see above, the competition is fierce. The 23-year-old is just an exquisite striker with fantastic technique and shot selection. The Englishman just picks you off and wears you down before it all becomes too much. Kallum Parker (2-0) steps in on short notice. The Englishman has had an interesting start to his pro career, having competed exclusively in North America to date. His biggest threat is in the grappling realm.

The beauty of a Cage Warriors card is that it’s usually fun from top to bottom, and Saturday has a little gem midway through the card. Madars Fleminas (10-4) is a man who takes on all comers. The Latvian is very dangerous in the stand up, and has a real toughness to his game. Aleksi Mäntykivi (14-7) is going to test that mental and physical fortitude. The Finn is going to march forward and throw some leather at a high pace. This won’t be for the faint of heart.

Dec Dean (1-0) is a local lad who is mainly a submission threat. He won his debut via rear naked choke. Ieuan Davies (2-0) did that as well, and then followed it up with a ground and pound win. These two are new pros that we haven’t seen a lot from, so it will be interesting to see them clash.

Chris Bungard (17-8) is a tough veteran with strong wrestling, good submissions and a heavy punch. The Scot is looking to get back into the win column after coming up short against George Hardwick in November. He was meant to fight Gavin Hughes (10-3) that night before the switch up, and the pair will finally throw down on Saturday. Hughes fights out of Liverpool and is a veteran of Bellator and EFC in Africa. The 35-year-old has a world-class guillotine and can cause damage on the feet. Two veterans are going to clash and show the new breed how it’s done.

Michał Folc (6-5) came up short on his CW debut, falling victim to Shoaib Yousaf’s knees. The Pole trains out of Mighty Bulls in Gdynia, home of FEN champ Kacper Formela and former KSW champ Sebastian Przebysz. The Elbląg man is a good grappler with good back takes. “Crazy” Chris Price (4-0) is coming in to make a statement on his promotional debut. The Englishman is a bit of an arm collector and can make you tap in many ways, whether it’s a traditional armbar, a kimura or through a triangle. Entertainment value is high.

Liam Gittins (9-4) is another member of Next Gen Liverpool. Whilst he doesn’t boast the record of some of his teammates, his losses have been to very good guys and has all the talent to get to the top. He’s most dangerous in the stand-up, where he’s picked up five first-round knockouts to date. Rory Evans (5-3) makes his first appearance since September 2021, a night where he picked up a good win against Weslley Maia. The Swansea man is a fine grappler with dangerous ground and pound.

Orlando Wilson Prins (3-2) is looking for third time lucky in the yellow gloves after losing his first two. The Dutchman is a submission expert. Antonio Sheldon (5-3-1) is also looking for his first promotional win and will be more dangerous on the feet. The Englishman had a stellar amateur career and will be the more experienced of the two.

When the night starts out with a Josh Reed (12-8) fight, you know you’re getting your money’s worth. The Welshman has consistently been one of the most exciting fighters on the roster. The Shore MMA man is a whirlwind on the feet and in the scrambles. The definition of kill or be killed. Liam Molloy (3-2) picked up a big win against Ben Rees in his last bout, a 26-second knockout win. That was just over a year ago now, so ring rust could be a factor. The Englishman will want to keep this standing where he can use his powerful striking. All three of his wins have been via first round knockout. If this doesn’t get bums on seats from the start, nothing will.

Cage Warriors 152 is live and exclusive this Saturday on UFC Fight Pass. The action kicks off at 17:30.

Seán Denny is a Dublin man who writes mostly on the European scene, with a keen interest in the Irish, UK and Polish scenes in particular. Follow me on Twitter at @DennyRants.

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