Fight night is almost here in The Toon, as Cage Warriors returns to the Vertu Motors arena for another epic offering of mixed martial arts action.

Final tickets for CW 172 are available here!

It’s a huge night for the North East; many of the region’s shining stars will be on display, as they’re pitted against some of the best the UK – and the world – has to offer.

Top of the bill is a title fight with a story full of twists and turns, bolstered by some new faces, old favourites and stars on the rise.

The Main Event: A New Featherweight Champion

Barring the unlikely event of a draw or No Contest, Cage Warriors crowns a new champion on Saturday night.

Either Harry Hardwick or Orlando Wilson Prins will be next to etch their name into a title lineage that includes the likes of Connor McGregor, Paddy Pimblett and Paul Hughes.

Hardwick has seemed like their heir apparent at 145lbs for some time; unbeaten across five bouts in the famous yellow gloves, his only misstep was a majority draw with Federico Pasquali that was nominated for fight of the year.

The Middlesborough man has been practically flawless since, rattling off impressive victories over the likes of Steve Aimable and – most recently – Vitor Estevam, who he dispatched with a grim-looking rear-naked choke finish following a sublime back take.

That was a year ago though, and they haven’t exactly been queuing up to fight Hardwick since.

On Saturday though, he gets the chance to become the third representative from his gym (after coach Abdul Mohaed and younger brother George) to bring home Cage Warriors gold.

First though, he’ll have to deal with the no small matter of Groningen, NL’s Orlando Wilson Prins.

The Dutchman holds a blackbelt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and – being from Holland – has a baked-in kickboxing ability to back his grappling and strong clinch work up.

Orlando Wilson Prins

After losing out narrowly on points in his first two bouts under the CW banner, Prins has put together a pair of solid back-to-back victories.

Last time out he finished another local favourite – Bailey Gilbert – in the very same arena he’ll be plying his trade in come Saturday night.

Originally scheduled to face Milad Ahady at the event, Prins found himself waiting for the phone to ring with a new opponent after ‘The Baddy’ was forced to withdraw with an injury.

He surely couldn’t have expected to hear the name Hardwick on the other end of the line, but it was an opportunity the 34 year old grasped with both hands, despite many others opting to pass.

This is what the glorious sport of MMA is all about though; one-in-lifetime opportunities, grasped in both hands for a chance at greatness.

Not Only, But Also

Cage Warriors 172 is far from a one fight card.

In the co-main event, fan favourite ultraviolence machine James Power is back in action against a man who would love to take that moniker for himself: Daniel Kolasiński.

Both men started their pro MMA careers with first round head kick KO victories, although the Pole has the time advantage at just five seconds.

Kennedy Freeman made a triumphant return to MMA competition in Newcastle last November, knocking out Anabruna Rados in the first round at CW 164.

She’s back in action at CW 172 against Brazilian banger Gisele Libânio.

Libânio has kickboxing experience; a fiery brawler with no reverse gear.

Freeman is no stranger to a scrap herself, but – on paper – should have the advantage in a technical battle at range.

And there’s the drama; does Freeman play the skill game, or does she steam in, roll the dice and see who comes up double sixes?

Opening up the main card is a battle of two Cage Warriors returnees.

Josh Abrahams last donned the famous yellow gloves five years ago; still in pursuit of a first CW win, he’ll be looking to harness the power of the local crowd when he faces the biggest challenge of his professional career.

Aiden Lee

That comes in the form of former title challenger Aiden Lee; a legitimate world warrior with a murderer’s row of high level opposition on his ledger.

Lee is a tall, rangy lightweight with a snapping jab and a tenacious spirit.

Abrahams, by contrast, will make up for what he lacks in length with sheer tenacity.

Cage Warriors 172 goes down on Saturday, May 25th from the Vertu Motors Arena, with all fights airing live on UFC Fight Pass and international broadcast partners.