Cage Warriors, a UK based MMA promotion has led to the emergence of some of the greatest fighters to have ever graced the UFC octagon. Chief among these are the likes of Dan Hardy, Jack Hermansson and Nathaniel Wood. It was even the proving ground of the first-ever English UFC champion Michael Bisping. And of course, it was where the ‘Notorious’ Conor McGregor made his name before becoming the biggest star the UFC has ever seen.
However, despite it being a tried and tested circuit for many of the future staples of the UFC roster, Cage Warriors rarely receives the media attention it truly deserves. It currently holds a huge amount of talent within its divisions, who could well have UFC contracts imminently pending. This article will seek to determine the most likely candidates to follow in the footsteps of the Bispings and McGregors of the MMA world.
Jake ‘White Kong’ Hadley
At the age of 24, Jake Hadley looks to have an incredibly bright future ahead of him. An undefeated 7-0 record doesn’t give his body of work outside the UFC justice. He currently holds the Cage Warriors flyweight belt, having dominated former champion, Luke Shanks, over 5 rounds. This fight especially demonstrated how comfortable Hadley is in the cage, regardless of his opposition. His high-level jiu-jitsu allowed him to dominate the fight on the ground, and he capitalised on Shanks’ explosive movements on the feet to initiate level changes.
However, Shanks was not Hadley’s only 5 round fight. In 2019 he fought former TUF contestant, Nkazimulo Zulu. The fight was a 5 round war, in what was only Hadley’s 4th professional fight. Since then, he defeated SBG fighter Blaine O’Driscoll, as well Shaj Harque on his Cage Warriors debut.
Hadley just might be the best European flyweight outside of the UFC currently. He has made it clear he’s looking for a UFC contract, but it has yet to materialize. However, should he extend his record to 8-0 with a title defense, it is unlikely that the UFC will be able to continue turning a blind eye on ‘White Kong.’
Morgan ‘The LASt Pirate’ Charriere
Only a year older than Hadley at 25, Charriere already has a huge amount of fights under his belt. A record of 16-7-1 matches many of the already established UFC fighters. The French featherweight champion already has his next fight booked against Jordan Vucenic. However, if he continues to perform in a similar fashion to his last fight, it will only be a matter of time before the UFC come calling.
Against Perry Goodwin, ‘The Last Pirate’ put on a clinical showcase. He dominated the first two rounds with superior striking, as well as some ground pound. The stoppage came in the third, as Charriere caught Goodwin with a brutal body shot, instantly dropping him and leading to the TKO victory. Wins against Dean Trueman and Lewis Monarch have further established his credentials on the Cage Warriors scene.
Charriere has a wide variety of finishes, with both (T)KO’s and submissions littering his win column. He has the experience. All he now needs is the opportunity to demonstrate his skills on a global scale.
Jack Cartwright was a feature of The Scraps‘ 2019 Cage Warriors prospects with UFC potential. Since then Cartwright has only improved, his record now 9-0. After defeating Scott Malone via first-round KO, Cartwright fought for the belt against Marko Kovaceivic, once again picking up a first-round KO stoppage. Since picking up the Bantamweight title, Cartwright has demonstrated his ability to go the full 5 rounds, in a decision victory over Manuel Billic. He also defeated Gerardo Fanny via first-round submission in September of 2020.
The UFC 135lb division is full of talent currently, so it may be that Cartwright needs one more win to force a move. However, his undefeated record is undeniably impressive, partnered with the fact that he has finished all but one of his fights, will most likely result in a UFC contract in the near future.
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Agy Sardari: The CW lightweight Champ is another fighter in incredible form. The Dutchman is riding a 7-fight win streak, having most recently picked up a decision victory over Jack Grant on his UFC debut. He possesses great potential, though will likely have to prove he can perform consistently against high-level opposition first.