United Kingdom Top Prospects to Watch 2023

United Kingdom MMA scene is red hot right now with Leon Edwards as UFC Welterweight Champion, Arnold Allen future title contender, Tom Aspinall Heavyweight Title contender, Ian Garry UFC prospect, Love him or hate him Paddy Pimbett has that star factor.

Cage Warriors and Graham Boylan doing excellent job breeding future UFC fighters, Bunch of prospects right now that have potential to become UFC title challengers but who are they?

1. George Hardwick

Number one United Kingdom prospect born and trains in England at Middlesbrough Fight Academy with his younger brother Harry Hardwick.

George Hardwick current Cage Warriors Featherweight Champion after defeating AKA prospect Kyle Driscoll for the vacated title. One title isn’t enough moved up to Lightweight to challenge Chris Bungard for the Cage Warriors Lightweight title, Finishing him with second round body shot.

Cage Warriors Featherweight and Lightweight Champion is no question one of the best prospects in the world. Proves it time and time again 2023 UFC definitely will sign him.

First Lightweight title defense against Yann Liasse at Cage Warriors 152. Looking forward to watching his excellent striking performance and putting on a show for the Manchester faithful.

George Hardwick skills

  • Sharp crisp volume striking
  • Beautiful hook to the body
  • Takes a punch to give a punch
  • Good conditioning
  • Solid takedown and grappling defense
  • Fluid jabs to the face

2. Jack Cartwright

Cage Warriors Bantamweight Champion since 2020, Wins against Gerardo Fanny, Manuel Bilic. Cartwright uses his strong England grappling to submit opponents.

Lost his fight on the Dana White Contender Series against Jose Johnson, Definitely will get a second chance with the UFC either with DCWS return or prelim fight.

Jack Cartwright hasn’t fought since Summer of 2022 love to see Cartwright return to the Cage Warriors ring

Cartwright attributes

  • solid Brazilian Jiu Jitsu guard
  • Prevents being controlled on the ground
  • Strong half guard submission game
  • Absorbs punches

3. Harry Hardwick

Rising up fast in the United Kingdom regional circuit with stellar performances since singing with Cage Warriors in 2021.

Four fight winning streak defeating recognizable names like Konmon Deh, Jean N’Doye and Steve Aimable. Continuing to improve in all aspects of striking. Looking like one of the best prospects in the world.

Upcoming fight is against Shoaib Yousaf at Cage Warriors 150, Yousaf one of the best UK Featherweights but Hardwick is in great form right now as his boxing and wins show his massive potential.

“He seems to be very tough; he seems to be very good at the fundamentals in a lot of areas. I feel like I can definitely out strike him, just need to be wary of a few things. My footwork’s better than his, he might do more footwork but mine’s better… And I know for a fact that my endurance is better than his.” Harry Hardwick said on Lowkick MMA

Win against Yousaf definitely lead to matchups against Morgan Charriere, Jordan Vucenic, James Hendin becoming #1 Featherweight contender challenging Paul Hughes in 2023. Future matchup between Hardwick and Hughes would be very interesting to watch.

Wouldn’t be surprised if Harry Hardwick signs with UFC in 2023 but hope the UK Featherweights stays with Cage Warriors this year only to improve and fight high level experienced fighters.

Harry Hardwick skills

  • Sharp boxing
  • controlling distance & range
  • dominating fighters with standup
  • Muay Thai knees
  • constant pressure on the feet
  • cardio

4. Paul Hughes

Current Cage Warriors Featherweight Champion no question is one of the best prospects in the world just an uber talented fighter.

Since 2020 defeating Aidan Stephen, Paul Hughes always been monitoring with great fights against Jordan Vucenic & Morgan Charriere. Running through the premier Featherweight Division in Europe really impressive.

Paul Hughes hasn’t fought since November 2022 currently no scheduling rumors, Maybe waiting for Cage Warriors Featherweight Division to play out with Harry Hardwick vs Yousaf, Harila vs Shelley. Second option is UFC contract negotiations.

“Look, Dana, pick up that phone for f**k’s sake. I am the biggest prospect unsigned to the UFC in the entire world. In my eyes, I’m 10 and 0 right now. I have avenged my only loss. I have taken out the best guys in Europe. Fought in the best division in all of Europe which is the featherweight [division] in Cage Warriors and I’ve took everybody out in spectacular fashion.” Paul Hughes said on submission radio

Accomplished everything from Unifying Cage Warriors Featherweight title, UFC Fight Pass Fight of the Year, Defeating the best European prospects. Earns all the praise as one of the best prospects in the world.

Paul Hughes skills

  • Left hook to the body
  • Boxing in close range
  • Shootboxing
  • solid high kicks
  • Clinch grappling towards the cage
  • Good wrestling sprawls

5. Shajidul Haque

First ever Bangladesh MMA World Champion after winning the Cage Warriors Flyweight title against Sam Creasey with one punch KO power in second round.

Biggest wins of his career include Sam Creasey for Cage Warriors Flyweight title, Samir Faiddine ARES FC win, Ronnie Mann former Bellator fighter. Experienced losses Tagir Ulanbekov & Zhalgas Zhumagulov (Two UFC Fighters) .

CW Flyweight Champion still in his prime at 32 years old, Love for Shajidul Haque to successfully defend his title than possibly sign with UFC. Well aware that Dana White not the biggest fan of signing 32/33 year old fighters however UFC mission is finding stars from all over the world. Haque can be marketed to the Bangladesh/India market.

Haque Skills

  • Fast feet Covers a lot of ground
  • Controls distance well
  • surprising KO power
  • good timing in takedowns

6. Nathan Fletcher

Fought for vacated Cage Warriors Bantamweight title against Dominique Wooding. Sadly lost but Nathan Fletcher definitely will return fighting for Bantamweight title once again.

Protege of Paddy Pimblett trains out of Next Generation Liverpool with Chris Fishgold, Molly McCann, Adam Cullen, rising prospect Luke Riley. Nathan Fletcher getting all different sorts of looks training with strong grapplers like Paddy, Experienced fighters.

Fletcher bounced back from his KO loss with strong all-around performance against #4 Italian Bantamweight Alessandro Giordano. Fletcher looked great in the three rounds looking like future Cage Warriors Bantamweight Champion.

Aiming for title challenge matchup against Martignoni in 2023, Feels like he’s #1 contender as he’s part of the triangle with former Cage Warriors fighter Dominique Wooding.

“I’ve got the Martignoni rematch, which obviously the enticement there for me is the belt, because I’ve already got a win over him… In terms of the competitor in me, the only reason I want that fight is because he’s got the belt.” Nathan Fletcher said on lowkickmma.com

Fletcher defeated Martignoni at Cage Warriors 122, Definitely can do it again and become the next Cage Warriors Bantamweight Champion. Watch out for the Liverpool product in 2023 to become one of the best Bantamweight prospects.

Fletcher skills

  • smart calculated fighter
  • smartly paces himself
  • strong job pressuring opponents like Martignoni towards fence
  • aggressive jiu-jitsu back control
  • ability to deal with adversity
  • accurate easy strikes

7. Adam Cullen

Cage Warriors Welterweight contender 6-0 pro record all wins fighting for Cage Warriors. Remarkably all wins finished in the first round. Showing off his nasty submission game.

Adam Cullen definitely a prospect to watch this year as the Next Gen Liverpool product faces tougher welterweight competition from Mateusz Figlak, Jack Grant, Madars Fleminas.

24 year old England fighter definitely can sign with UFC in 2023 depending on important wins and how Cullen wins.

Adam Cullen skills

  • Strong Brazilian Jiu Jitsu side control, top mount and back
  • smothers opponents with grappling
  • control’s pace of the fight

8. Ryan Shelley

Dublin Ireland product is currently undefeated with 6-0 record, Gradually improving fight by fight defeating tough fighters under Cage Warriors. Since Shelley is a taekwondo world champion picks apart opponents with his striking.

Starting off 2023 with tougher competition, Facing Tobias Harila (#1 Nordic Featherweight) CW 153 April 29th. Toughest fight of Shelley’s life to date but convincing win can make him one step closer to challenging for the title.

Win against Harila can lead to potential fights against Chris Bungard, Steve Aimable, Harry Hardwick. Ireland’s Featherweight prospect definitely will be climbing up the Cage Warriors Featherweight ladder and sought after talent in the next following years as he continues to develop as an all-around mma fighter.

Shelley’s skills

  • Fast low leg kicks
  • Solid Jiu-Jitsu game for back control
  • Avoiding dangerous strikes
  • Taking advantage of his long reach and length body
  • fluid jabs
  • Grappling defense against cage attempting guillotine choke

9. Caolan Loughran

Rising hot Ireland Bantamweight prospect definitely jump on everyone’s radar in 2023 as he continues to impress MMA fans with impressive Cage Warriors wins.

Undefeated 7-0 fighter biggest win was in his last fight defeating Luke Shanks former Cage Warriors Flyweight title challenger. Loughran showing he’s a potential Cage Warriors Bantamweight Champion.

26 year old flyweight is the next blue-chip fighter to come out of Team Kaobon Liverpool following the likes of Darren Till & Tom Aspinall.

Right now, no scheduled matchups to start 2023 but definitely contender up there with Nathan Fletcher. Fletcher vs Caolan Loughran can be #1 contender fight to fight for the Bantamweight title.

Watch out for Caolan Loughran in 2023 will become highly talked about prospect with incredible wins against some of the best European fighters today. Following Conor McGregor, Ian Garry, James Gallagher, Paul Hughes as the next great Irish born MMA fighter.

Loughran skills

  • Surprising strength
  • smothered Shanks with wrestling
  • Strong back control jiu-jitsu game
  • relentless grappling pressure
  • explosive power

10. Reece McEwan

Scotland’s own Bantamweight prospect made his name known fighting for Cage Warriors standout win against Great Britain Top Team Kingsley Crawford. Nominated for Cage Warriors breakthrough fighter of the year because of great fights against solid opponents.

2022 was his first year fighting for Cage Warriors, Sophomore year watch out for the Scottish fighter to build his name amongst the prospect circuit. First fight of the year against #1 Dutch Bantamweight Daan Duijs at Cage Warriors 152.

Potential win against Dujis, one or two more wins away from challenging for the Bantamweight title. Ideal opponents post Cage Warriors 152 can be against Liam Gittins, Dylan Hazan, Luke Shanks. All interesting matchups for the Scottish fighter as he’ll try to beat opponents on the feet.

Reece McEwan coming on my radar recently but 100% will monitor his Cage Warriors fights until he potentially makes it with the UFC. Won’t be surprised if he makes a run for the Bantamweight title however needs to improve Jiu-Jitsu defense little more if he wants to defeat the high caliber opponents.

McEwan skills

  • Fast reactions
  • Fast movement backwards and forward
  • creative kickboxing combinations
  • Fast leg kicks
  • Constant movement stick and move
  • Solidly timed takedowns use them right time
  • strong full mount pressure

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