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Four Fights To Follow At Cage Warriors 172

The UFC Might Be Taking A Week Off From Live Events, But That Doesn't Mean You Have To. Here's A Quartet Of Contests To Check Out From The UK

The UFC is taking a one-week hiatus before a packed summer slate of events gets underway with UFC 302, but the world of MMA continues to produce plenty of fighting action for your delectation.

At the top of that list is an event from England, as Cage Warriors heads to the North East city of Newcastle Upon Tyne for a 15-bout card that culminates with the crowning of a new featherweight champion.

Here are our four bouts to follow ahead of fight night in "The Toon."

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Harry Hardwick vs Orlando Wilson Prins

The Cage Warriors featherweight title has been held by a plethora of stars who went on to compete on the world stage, with the likes of Conor McGregor, Paddy Pimblett, Nad Narimani, and Morgan Charriere all heading to the UFC after capturing featherweight gold in the famous yellow Cage Warriors gloves.

Now the promotion is set to crown a new king at 145 pounds, with England's Harry Hardwick and Dutchman Orlando Wilson Prins set to duke it out for the title in Saturday night's main event.

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The older brother of reigning Cage Warriors lightweight champion George Hardwick, Harry has built a compelling resume to earn himself a shot at Cage Warriors gold. "Houdini" is riding a six-fight unbeaten streak, with his most recent outing seeing him hand Vitor Estevam his first professional loss via second-round rear-naked choke.

That win booked Hardwick a shot at the vacant title, but when his scheduled title bout with fellow challenger Zafar Mohsen fell through due to the German's withdrawal, Cage Warriors officials quickly found a replacement, with the Netherlands' Prins stepping up to challenge for the vacant title.

After a tricky year in 2022 that saw him suffer his only two career losses, Prins bounced back in style in 2023, with a hard-earned split decision win over Antonio Sheldon followed by a first-round TKO of Bailey Gilbert. Prins was then booked to appear this weekend against Milad Ahadi. But when Ahadi was forced off the card, Prins looked to be without a dance partner. Now, in a remarkable upturn in fortunes, he's back on the card, in the main event, and with a shot at championship glory.

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Will Hardwick join his brother in becoming a Cage Warriors champion, or will Prins become king with an upset victory? It should be a fascinating clash.

James Power vs Daniel Kolasinski

Two rising lightweight contenders go head-to-head in the co-main event of the night, as England's 6-1 James Power takes on Poland's 5-1 Daniel Kolasinski in a bout that could push the winner towards a title shot.

Power, who fights out of the gritty Atherton Submission Wrestling (ASW) gym in Manchester, has been one to watch ever since he joined the Cage Warriors roster back in 2022. Since then, he's won three and lost one as he has made steady progress in the promotion's lightweight division.

Now he faces the latest test of his championship credentials as he takes on Poland's Kolasinski, who arrives in Cage Warriors with a 5-1 record and eyes on a title shot himself. Kolasinski hasn't kept the same level of company as Power, but his finish rate – three TKOs and one submission from his five career bouts – warrants respect.

If Power can live up to his name and produce a finish on Saturday night, a big fight could be just around the corner. If Kolasinski topples the local favourite, he'll be in prime position to face one of the division's contenders next.

It's a brilliant piece of matchmaking by Cage Warriors' veteran fight booker Ian Dean, and one that could see a new contender emerge at 155 pounds.

Kennedy Freeman vs Gisele Libanio

If the name Kennedy Freeman gives you a moment's pause, yes, she is the daughter of legendary UK MMA pioneer and former UFC heavyweight Ian "The Machine" Freeman, and her fighting moniker of "The Machine 2.0" shows that she plans to follow closely in her father's footsteps.

It's been a remarkable rise so far for the bantamweight, who went 5-1 as an amateur before turning pro in 2018 and racing to a 3-0 record as a flyweight.

Five years elapsed before we saw Freeman in action again, this time at bantamweight, and she scored a resounding first-round TKO finish of Annabruna Rados at Cage Warriors 164 in Newcastle. Now Freeman gets the chance to return to Vertu Motors Arena this weekend in a bid to extend her undefeated professional record on home soil.

She'll take on 2-1 prospect Gisele Libanio, who arrives in Newcastle on a two-fight streak, with both finishes coming in the first round. With the Brazilian heading into enemy territory, she'll be looking to play the role of spoiler by claiming a hat-trick of finishes and handing Freeman her first pro loss in the process.

Chasen Blair vs Arturs Leisans

You don't see too many Americans competing in Cage Warriors shows in Europe, but one notable name that does is Chasen "Paper" Blair. The former UNC wrestler arrived in Cage Warriors in 2022 and made an immediate impact in his professional debut with a first-round knockout at Cage Warriors 136.

The former Tar Heel, who trains under former H.I.T. Squad coach Marc Fiore and Jake Buracker in San Diego, has alternated wins and losses since then as he has built a 4-2 record under the Cage Warriors banner. Now, following a first-round knockout in his last outing in February, Blair is looking to claim back-to-back victories when he takes on Latvian knockout artist Arturs Leisans.

Leisans has competed for various promotions across Europe, and makes his Cage Warriors debut this weekend in Newcastle looking to make an instant impact.

Don't let his 9-7 record deceive you, though. Five of those came in his first 10 pro contests. And while he's coming into this one after a Peruvian Necktie defeat, he has won five of his last seven, with each of his last four victories coming via finish.

Cage Warriors 172 streams live on UFC Fight Pass on Saturday, May 25, with the preliminary card starting at 6pm BST / 1pm ET / 10am PT and the main card kicking off at 8:30pm BST / 3:30pm ET / 12:30pm PT.

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