Column Stefan Struve: Three Cage Warriors to Watch
Last week it was time for Cage Warriors 147, and eight of the nine matches ended in (T)KO! The one match that didn’t end prematurely was probably the fight of the night between two top players who could easily advance to the UFC in terms of level. In my column this week, I’ve highlighted a few names that I think we’ll see in the UFC soon.
CW 154 | Gerardo Vanni signs a new deal with the Cage Warriors and meets Tanio Pagliariccio in Rome
Yesterday at 11:05
We kicked off three weeks of Cage Warriors fireworks with the Cage Warriors 145 from Indigo in London. The Indigo is actually a nightclub and is located on the side of 02 Arena. Think of an opera hall with an attic floor. The atmosphere here is always exceptional, in part because the audience is less than two meters away from the cage.
CW145 | Loughran is undefeated after defeating former champion Shanks
If you ever want to catch a Cage Warriors event I recommend an event at this arena especially because when the UFC comes to the O2 Arena in London Cage Warriors they always have an event the day before this is how you hit kill two birds With one stone, two evenings of MMA at the highest level.
The main event
The main event of the evening was between Jordan Vosinek and Paul Hughes. The “real” champ vs. the interim champ, the winner of this bout will be very close to making a move to the UFC and the loser has to take a step back, but he can certainly make the move at a later time.
It ended up being a master class from Paul Hughes. He was so strong for Vucinic this evening, it was a miracle he managed to survive five rounds. The Irishman showed this evening that he can do whatever it takes to go far in MMA. His stand-up work is great and he has a solid grappling and clinching match as well as a very good floor match.
CW145 | Hughes defeats Vucenic in a rematch and is the Featherweight Champion
In addition, he is only 24 years old thus he has plenty of time to grow up. In my opinion, he already has the qualities to run well in the UFC and is a great successor to his illustrious countryman in the UFC’s featherweight division.
Christian Leroy Duncan
In Cage Warriors 146, it’s the turn of one of the most exciting fighters ever to grace the Cage Warriors roster: Christian Leroy Duncan. Duncan has everything to become a star in the UFC, although it’s always difficult to estimate whether someone can perform as well in the UFC as they do abroad. Duncan showed against the powerful Bulgarian Marian Dimitrov that he is ready to step up. With his light ability and great kicks, he got his opponent in trouble early on.
CW 146 | Duncan defeats Dimitrov in the first round to remain the undefeated champion
Dimitrov tried everything he had to force his way into the match, but clearly failed. He looked set to make it to the end of the first round until Duncan added a highlight with his finishing reel with a spinning backhand and a great follow-up. Duncan’s professional record is now 7-0 with six finishes including a backhand, a flying knee, and a backhand kick. His game on the floor and wrestling is also very good and I am convinced he can easily compete with most of the names in the top 10 in the UFC right now.
Last Sunday it was George Hardwicke’s turn. The Cage Warriors lightweight champion, along with his little brother Harry, is a must watch in MMA. Brothers always come to fight and are not afraid to take a punch to get one. They always put their opponents against the cage and build up more and more pressure during the match.
George won the title last July against the great American wrestler Kyle Driscoll. It was expected that Hardwick would have problems with his great wrestling work but nothing could be further from the truth, Hardwick defended all takedowns and Driscoll, like his opponent last weekend, finished with a timely punch to the body, an absolute home major where he managed to win Three of his last seven matches. When his opponents have already passed him, he keeps pressing and often knows how to perfectly find the weak points of the body.
CW 147 | Hardwicke finishes Bungard with a powerful body punch and remains the champion
When the body is already crying out for oxygen, Hardwick makes sure that no oxygen gets in for about twenty seconds. The best way to describe such a devastating blow to the liver or plexus: Your body stops and a cramping pain begins in your torso, all you want to do is prevent it from being exacerbated by another blow to the same spot.
Hardwicke is all set for the UFC and could have made a comeback in August when the UFC approached him at the last minute for their Paris show. Hardwicke offered a cordial thank you as he would like a full training camp before it starts. Very logical and a good choice in my opinion. Hardwicke, like me, is convinced of his abilities and knows he can go far.
Octagon at UFC APEX
Photo: Getty Images
For one, he ranks him higher than one of his predecessors who made the step from Cage Warriors to the UFC in the same way: Paddy Pimblett. I’m confident Hardwick will be a great addition to the already impressive lightweight division in the UFC.
These are three names to watch as I anticipate making their UFC debut in 2023. I hope to be able to write a similar column again at the end of next year with the new Cage Warriors champions I expect to make the move. The future in Cage Warriors is always bright and today’s champions are the best ever.
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