George Hardwick is the new Cage Warriors lightweight champion.
In the main event of Cage Warriors’ 20th anniversary show in London, Cage Warrios 141, Hardwick made true on his promise of a 4th-round stoppage over Kyle Driscoll, crumpling the American with a thundering left hook to the body before finishing him off via TKO.
Hardwick had to persevere through adversity en route to victory. A Division 1 wrestler from Oklahoma, Driscoll’s grappling threat was one of the talking points coming into the contest. To much surprise, almost the entirety of the fight played out on the feet, Hardwick constantly pressuring Driscoll, with the American Kickboxing Academy prospect happy to strike with his back against the fence.
A war of attrition ensued, Driscoll bloodying Hardwick’s nose early, but a body shot late into the third round pierced a hole through Driscoll’s armor, the first sign of wilt from either man.
🏆 George Hardwick has done it, he becomes the Lightweight Champion of Cage Warriors!!!— Cage Warriors (@CageWarriors) July 22, 2022
A huge rally in the 4th round gets him the TKO finish on the biggest stage of his career. #CW141 pic.twitter.com/veD9bMU6Hk
Prior to the fight, Hardwick laid out his vision for the fight to MyMMANews.com:
“Bit of Pat Benatar. Left hooks and guillotines, and then get the finish, go home, and have a parmo. I would like to see the championship rounds out of interest. I’ve never been there before. You always want to know the unknown. That being said, I’m coming for the finish. Whether it’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd, I feel like 4th round could be a good shout. A 4th-round finish as the damage accumulates, chipping him away, bit by bit. That would probably be my final prediction if I was forced to give one, a 4th-round finish.”
After hurting Driscoll in the 3rd-round with a hook to the body, Hardwick went to the well in the fourth, piling the pressure on his opponent before finally folding Driscoll with a body shot. After Hardwick followed up with a flurry of finishing shots, referee Marc Goddard stepped in to wave off the action.
It was the third attempt at seizing the title for Hardwick. After Joe McColgan vacated the throne last November, Hardwick was matched with Mehdi Ben Lakhdhar and Danilo Belluardo on separate occasions. Neither fight materialized, through no fault of Hardwick’s. Finally, on Saturday night, the McColgan-sized hole that left the division in limbo for over a year has been filled by a new champion, and Hardwick didn’t waste any time to ensure that the lightweight train keeps rolling.
With the 155lbs title belt wrapped around his waist, the newly-crowned champion delivered a post-fight interview for the ages, setting up a potential fight with likely no.1 contender Michal Figlak, who comfortably beat former champion Agy Sardari earlier in the night. Hardwick also left the door open for a McColgan return to the division, if the Belfast fighter so wishes.
For now, though, the Cage Warriors 155lbs division moves on. There’s a new king in town, and his name is George Hardwick.
Andy Stevenson is an MMA writer, interviewer, and occasional podcaster based in Dublin, Ireland.