Cage Warriors 172 Preview; Hardwick v Prins, Hill and O’Neill return

Cage Warriors return to Newcastle tonight following a great event there last November. CW 172 goes down in the Vertu Motors Arena, next to the famous River Tyne. Twelve fights are on deck, including one for a title. This preview is dedicated to the late Connor Hitchens. The 26-year-old sadly passed away this week and will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and all who knew him.

The CW vacant Featherweight Championship is on the line in the main event of the evening. Harry Hardwick (10-3-1) is looking to take a page out of his brother George’s book by securing CW gold. The Middlesbrough man is a high paced athlete who puts the pedal to the metal from the opening bell. “Houdini” has his wrestling game down pat, and has a great nose for sniffing out submissions. On the feet, he throws with mean intent and never gives you a moment to rest. You’ll love his entrance tune too. Orlando Wilson Prins (5-2) replaces Zafar Mohsen on short notice due to visa issues. The Dutchman works at a slower pace, however is no less dangerous. The Groningen man is a Jiu Jitsu player, with big success early in his career with rear naked chokes and an armbar. He can compete on the feet, showing his power in his last win against Bailey Gilbert last November. There should be a celebratory chicken parmo in Harry Hardwick’s post fight meal, with a side of gold.

James Power (6-1) is a long touted prospect in this lightweight division, and has won three of four of his fights so far in the yellow gloves. The Englishman has an explosive kickboxing game with enough power to light up the north of England for a year. Punches in bunches, brutal knees and a sweet head kick, he doesn’t give you a break. If he gets it down to the mat, he loves to rain down ground and pound. Daniel Kolasiński (5-1) is a newcomer to the promotion. The Pole is a fantastic wrestler, accentuated by his training with the great Damian Janikowski. The 28-year-old has honed his striking skills under the well regarded Krzysztof Gutowski in Warsaw, earning three knockouts victories along the way. I’d edge Power due to strength of opponent, however Kolasiński has all the skills required to get it done.

Kennedy Freeman (4-0) is the daughter of the legendary Ian Freeman, and she recently returned to MMA with a beautiful performance and knockout win over Annabruna Rados last November. Training out of Stanley, a mere twenty-five minutes from the arena, she has a savage kickboxing game that inflicts huge damage on everyone who steps in front of her. She’s tough and can cause problems in every minute of the fifteen. Gisele Libânio (2-1) travels to Europe for the first time. The Brazilian recovered from an early misstep after turning pro to win two-in-a-row. The São Paulo fighter is a submission player who throws in damaging ground and pound along the way. Styles make fights and I’d edge towards the hometown hero Freeman to get it done with her striking.

Leon Hill (6-2) returns looking to get back into the win column following his first loss in seven fights. The Team KF prospect returns to lightweight after that ill fated foray up to welterweight. The Dubliner is a great wrestler who loves to smash you with elbows and punches when he’s on top of you, begging you to give up your back or simply succumb to the onslaught and have the ref rescue you. That power translates on the feet too, with the ability to turn your lights out in a second. Tommy Hawthorn (5-1) makes his promotional debut after a stellar stint on the regional scene. The Welshman is a quick starter who goes all out to end things within the first five minutes. He’s a finisher with savage power and someone who throws every strike with the goal of ending proceedings. His Muay Thai is not to be sniffed at. I’m picking Hill as Hawthorn hasn’t fought at this level before and came unstuck against Liam McCracken before, a fighter I’d hold Hill in the same esteem as.

Chasen Blair (4-2) has been a fascinating watch on his Cage Warriors adventure to date. The American has had a bit more joy on British shores, with both his losses coming over in San Diego. The Next Gen Liverpool man is a great Division 1 wrestler who doesn’t really have an interest in putting you on your back with his grappling. That feat is reserved for his massive punches, that big right hand in particular. He has more knockouts than the group stage of the All-Ireland football championship. Artūrs Leisāns (9-7) is a man who only needs a gum shield and a passport to have some fun. The Latvian is all about blood, guts and thunder. The Babīta man has an attractive kickboxing game with the ability to hit you and you stay hit. One false step and you’re in the locker room asking your coach when the fight is. He’s a risk taker and extremely scrappy. I’m shading it towards Blair as he’s a little more defence savvy.

Aiden Lee (11-8) returns to Cage Warriors looking to get back to winning ways following losses in his last two. The Team Renegade man is a great Jiu Jitsu player with a strong wrestling game. Submissions are where he excels, however don’t discount his kickboxing game. The 29-year-old is very experienced and is a threat wherever the fight goes. Josh Abraham (7-4) returns to Cage Warriors after going 0-3 in his first stint. Coming from the nearby Roker Rough House team in Sunderland, the 27-year-old is a promising all rounder. He’s a good kickboxer with power and has a nice armbar on the ground. Lee’s experience should shine here.

Jack Humphries (debut) is an IMMAF veteran training out of the midlands. The 20-year-old showed great submission skills at amateur level, including a Brabo Choke victory. He’s also got a good kickboxing game that isn’t easy to utilise fully until you reach pro level. João Dos Santos (1-1) is a young man training out of Portugal. The Brazilian has won his only win via knockout. The 23-year-old is raw but a tough cookie. Humphries should be the favourite due to his amateur experience.

Michael Tchamou (3-4) will be a hometown favourite on the night. The Cameroonian was born in Newcastle and is known for his explosive striking style and massive power. If you end up on his wrong side, he’s knocking you out. He’s in need of a win after losing his last three, however he can do it in an instant. Joe Amber (1-1) is a multi-time amateur champion. The Yorkshireman is predominantly a submission player, however has caused opponents fits on the feet. Amber’s Achilles heel has been submissions, however I think Tchamou’s power will be too much.

Tom Wright (1-1) is a fighter with experience on Europe’s top level at Ares and CW. The Manchester man had success as an amateur with his kickboxing game, earning a few knockouts. As a pro, his sole victory came via guillotine choke. Joe Fields (1-0) trains out of the same gym as the Hardwick brothers. The Middlesbrough man showed a lot of knockout ability as an amateur, as well as some niche submissions. The 22-year-old is tough and gnarly, a prospect to look out for. I think Fields will make a statement.

Charles Joyner (2-1) is fighting one weight up than usual at light heavyweight. The Australian has had success as a kickboxer. Punches and kicks are where he shines, and both his victories have been via knockout. Albert Serpeti (1-3) comes from the Aurora MMA team in Rome. The Italian won his pro debut by decision, but has hit a three-fight skid since then. Joyner’s greater sense of urgency should open up extra avenues here.

Jackson Clarke (debut) is a newcomer. The Newcastle man is predominantly a grappler so far, who loves finishing by submission. The Englishman can play a little bit on the feet as well. Faudel Bentayeb (4-4) also does most of his damage on the ground. The Frenchman has solid Jiu Jitsu and ground and pound. Experience gives him the edge here.

Jordan O’Neill (2-0) is a prospect from Fight Academy Ireland. The middleweight gets most of his finishes by submission, using his long limbs to secure chokes. His kickboxing game causes his opponents issues too, with a lovely amateur victory over Trevor Mekengo by knockout. He’s won his last six. Thodoris Serdes (4-2) is a similarly long fighter. The Greek dabbles on the ground with chokes and has power in the kickboxing game. He comes in on a two-fight win streak.

Cage Warriors 172 is live and exclusive this Saturday on UFC Fight Pass. The action kicks off at 18:00.

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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.