The Severe Spotlight: Harry Hardwick

Cage Warriors cards are often special. A relative homecoming for Harry Hardwick at the Vertu Motors Arena, Newcastle saw another special night. Not only was history made with the Hardwick brothers becoming the first set of brothers to be active champions within the promotion, but we also saw a night of 11 finishes in 12 fights, 7 of those in the very first round.

As such is the case in MMA, Harry Hardwicks original opponent fell from the card a short time before fight week. Orlando Prins, who was schedule to fight Milad Ahady also lost his opponent. After being offered the title fight on short notice leapt at the chance to fight for Cage Warriors gold.

In just 7 minutes and 18 seconds, Harry Hardwick made good on his promise to not just become the Cage Warriors 145lb champion, but to do so in style.

This fight started with an unconventional touch of gloves. Instead of a sign of respect, both fighters planted stiff jabs on each other’s noses. Right out of the gate the pair set a feisty pace, the Prins jab was ever present, but Hardwick set about using his varied arsenal to ensure Prins had plenty to think about other than setting his rhythm. Short hooks, leg kick counters, and a piston right hand the options inside the first 30 seconds from the man hailing from Middlesbrough.

The next 30 seconds saw some vintage Hardwick brother body work, that body work mixed in well with shots to the top forces Prins back behind the tramlines, the footwork of Hardwick keeping him there. Hardwick in these moments gets defensively reckless, allowing Prins to land and land well, a short over the top left hook punctuates a nice knee from the plum clinch that forces Hardwick to stumble momentarily.

Smartly, Hardwick regains his composure and continues to push Prins back, never fully letting him reset to the centre of the cage. The body work flows like sentences in a paragraph, the leg kicks punctuation. An exclamation mark by way of a low kick to stumble Prins, beautiful left hook body shot and a crowded right hand send Princ momentarily stumbling to the canvas. Whilst not there long, the Newcastle contingent rise and roar their warrior on.

Sensing the body work was hurting his man, he lasers in his focus. Feints of low kicks and feints of jabs open the elbow line of Prins who cannot afford to take any more punishment to the ribs and liver. He dives on a single leg that Hardwick shows impressive balance to ride, clearing his knee line and clamouring backwards to the safety of the fence to ride the double leg enslaught from Prins. The crash into the cage wall breaks the posture of Prins and Hardwick does well to drop to a front headlock grip before realising his man was folding underneath him, and so followed him right into top mount. Prins does well to bring his knees back and Hardwick retreats and forces him to his feet.

Prins is now acutely aware that he cannot stay with his back to the fence, but neither can he find a way out. Hardwick is switching stances, feinting with his lead hand and catching him up top with the left, low with the calf kicks and then finding his body with both the left hooks and the right straights.

A minute left on the clock and Prins is tired, hurt and bewildered. The left-hand cant miss, and Hardwick is now setting his man up for big knees up the middle, hurtful elbows inside. The final seconds of the first round see Prins throwing big hooks in desperation for space, gasping for air. Hardwick sticks to his gameplan and rips to the body.

Credit to Prins who begins round 2 searching for successful adjustment, he comes out to the centre of the cage and works his way into a well-timed level change. Hardwick matches the level and scoops an underhook, angling Prins off to the side of the cage and landing a right hand as a gift on the way out. He then switches to a southpaw as he is pushed against the fence once again, trying to use his right hand as a battering ram to beat away Hardwick. However almost immediately Hardwick finds a crisp and cruel right uppercut to the liver.

Hardwick continues to pour on the pressure as Prins is forced to shell up, a left hook lands and seems to severely damage the eye socket of Prins as he clutches it, visibly wincing in pain. Referee Marc Goddard does not intervene in the action and so Hardwick presses on, hammering his man as he collapses to the ground.

The beating that ensues to the end of the fight is one that we must give full credit for Prins for fighting his absolute best through. Hardwick landed innumerable punches to his man who at all moments fought his hardest to return to either a sustainable guard, position or to standing. After eventually rising to his feet, Hardwick found both a knee to the mid-section and another picture-perfect left hook to the body that collapsed Prins to the mat. A short flurry was all Marc Goddard needed to see before he ambushed the fighters and saved Prins from any further damage.

Hardwick brothers, Cage Warriors champions.

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