The UFC bantamweight division has quickly become one of the most exciting divisions in the sport due to the competitiveness and the variety of fighters.
This Saturday in Las Vegas at UFC Vegas 23, the undefeated Welsh prospect Jack “Tank” Shore looks to kick start his 2021 in style and cement himself as a future top-15 fighter in the 135 lbs division as he collides with Hunter Azure.
The Rise of Jack Shore
Shore discovered MMA when he was just 6 years old and started with traditional martial arts. With his father being a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and owning his own gym, Shore’s talents continued to progress.
Fast forward 18 years and 8 fights in Cage Warriors, his first opportunity at professional gold came flying his way.
Shore attained the bantamweight title against Mike Ekundayo at Cage Warriors 100, then went on to successfully defend his throne at CW 104 by finishing Scotland’s Scott Malone via a firm third-round rear-naked choke. After establishing himself as one of the best bantamweights in Europe, the UFC inevitably came calling for the young superstar. The Welshman burst into the UFC limelight on his debut at UFC Fight Night: Hermannson vs Cannonier, by running through Nohelin Hernandez and claiming back-to-back third-round rear-naked choke victories.
On his last outing to the octagon at UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs Ige, Shore extended his unbeaten professional record to 13-0 by bulldozing Aaron Phillips. Despite the unexpected change of opponent, the 26-year-old seemed unfazed, taking the first round in a dominant 10-8 fashion.
As both fighters met in the middle of the octagon and engaged in the second round, it was clear that Shore was keen to get his hand raised as quickly as possible and when he secured the takedown, it was obvious that the end was near for his opponent.
After some ferocious ground and pound, Shore claimed the back of Phillips, sunk his arm under his opponent’s chin, and forced referee Herb Dean to intervene and stop the contest.
A Stylistic Breakdown of Jack Shore
When analyzing the UFC’s bantamweight division, it’s safe to say that the Tillery Combat MMA Academy representative in Shore is as dangerous as they come. Although his striking isn’t up to an elite level yet, he is fundamentally set up to keep a fight standing and cause headaches for his opponents.
In terms of his defensive displays, he is yet to be hurt due to his ability to slip a counter and fight at his preferred range. As his opponents become frustrated with the range disadvantage, they seem to throw strikes which are countered by his impeccably timed takedowns.
When the fight unavoidably goes down to the canvas or stays standing in the clinch, this is when the Welshman is at his most dangerous. Jack Shore can use his violent ground and pound to wear his opponent out and make them quit, or he can switch to his deadly submission game. It’s no coincidence that eight of his professional wins have come via submission with seven of those being rear-naked chokes.
In his most recent bout against Aaron Phillips, the former UFC middleweight champion turned commentator, Michael Bisping compared Shore’s fighting style to the legendary Georges St Pierre. Here’s what Bisping had to say:
“When I watch this man fight, he reminds me of a young GSP. He’s so technical and is certainly Wales’ best chance of having a future champion in the UFC. This guy is moving through the weight class, and looked incredible.”
The Jack Shore Return Fans Have Been Waiting For
The biggest test of Jack Shore’s career comes this Saturday when he collides with the 9-1 fighter Azure.
With a 2-1 record in the UFC, Azure secured his contract in 2019 through Dana White’s Contender series by beating the American-born product, Chris Ocon.
Since Azure’s name was signed on the dotted line with the promotion, he has caught the attention of many by beating the Ultimate Fighter season 27 winner Brad Katona in his debut.
Despite being brutally knocked out by UFC veteran Brian Kelleher at UFC Fight Night: Smith vs Teixeira, the 29-year-old Azure bounced straight back into the win column by defeating Cole Smith via unanimous decision.
As we approach the bout, the odds are heavily in favor of Shore defeating Azure and improving to a professional record of 14-0. You can watch Jack Shore vs Hunter Azure on the preliminary card of UFC Vegas 23 on ESPN+.
What’s your predictions on this Jack Shore vs Hunter Azure fight? Leave your comments below!
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