MMA in Wales is growing, and the Shore family of Abertillery, South Wales continues to play a vital role in it’s ongoing expansion. Richard ‘Shaky’ Shore, a professional MMA fighter in his own right and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under the lineage of Braulio Estima, created the Tillery Combat MMA Academy in 2007. Since then, the Academy has produced a string of talented fighters, not least Richard’s son Jack.
4-0 in professional MMA, and the 2015 IMMAF European Open champion, Jack Shore has been on a tear in Britain’s Cage Warriors outfit, amassing four successive finishes and turning plenty of heads along the way. Citing his dad as his main source of inspiration, Jack told MMA Vanguard that growing up watching him compete at a young age left him in no doubt about what he wanted to do in future; he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.
A huge fan of films like Rocky and anything starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jack’s exposure to tales of both fictional and real life glory helped lay the foundations for a career in MMA long ago. The success of Tillery-trained fighters like Jack ‘The Hammer’ Marshman, who has gone on to become the first Welshman to sign for the UFC, only reinforced what seemed fated all along. Jack Shore would compete, and Jack Shore would succeed.
A black belt in kickboxing and traditional combat JuJutsu, Shore also holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and with twelve finishes by way of submission across both the amateur and professional ranks, it’s clear to see he has been taught well. What’s more, Shore can lay claim to a 2013 Welsh novice boxing title; in a sport that requires competitors to be well-versed in a variety of disciplines, Jack’s résumé does not disappoint.
Training alongside Marshman, as well as the likes of Martin McDonough, Josh Reed, Owain Parry and Kris Edwards, Jack has always had plenty of big-fight experience to draw on. What’s more, the UFC’s signing of Marshman in 2016 seems to have opened a door that had stayed shut far too long. The prospect of following in the footsteps of the UFC’s first ever Welsh signing have to be exhilarating for a top prospect like Jack.
Big stages are nothing new, however. Having competed at a Cage Warriors show as an amateur back in 2014, Jack recognises that he was presented a great opportunity to compete in front of big arenas early on. Commenting on the bout with fellow Welshman Simon Maksimovic, Jack says: “At the time I only had a few amateur bouts [on my record], so to get on an undercard for a big show like that was a massive opportunity for me. I felt great going into that fight and put on a solid performance.”
The fight would go the distance, with Jack emerging victorious via Unanimous Decision. With that experience in the bag, Shore would continue to rack up the wins on the amateur scene, before entering himself into the IMMAF’s European Open Championships lightweight tournament in November 2015. There, Shore would face some of the best and most experienced amateurs around; and yet still results would continue to go the same way. Already 9-0, Jack recorded consecutive first round submissions of Northern Ireland’s Jonny Martin, Bulgaria’s Ferdun Osmanov, and the Republic of Ireland’s Tommy Martin. In the final, Shore would meet Norwegian standout Geir Kåre Nyland, a bout which represented his fourth fight in three days.
Speaking of the IMMAF, Shore states that “I think any amateur who is serious about testing their skills against the best [fighters possible] before turning pro should compete at the IMMAF World [Championships] or European [Championships]. There’s no picking your fights or record padding there. You don’t get a say in who you fight, and everyone competing [has skills] at a very high level.”
On the topic of so many fights in such a short space of time, Shore adds: “For me it wasn’t too bad, making weight wasn’t an issue [as] I was coming in three-to-five pounds under the weight limit everyday. I also won my first three fights by first round submission so my body wasn’t too beat up going into the final. But I think the main challenge is going through the adrenaline rush and dump that you go through for every fight. Doing that four times in a short space of time takes it out of you!”
Following that great achievement, and Unanimous Decision win over Nyland to claim the gold medal, Shore decided to turn pro. This wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision, by any means. Shore admits the plan had always been to compete at a professional level, so while his training regiments remained pretty much the same, a full time schedule was a necessity. Training three times a day, six days a week became the norm as Shore prepared for the inevitable wave of professional athletes headed his way.
Those athletes were provided by Cage Warriors, an outfit Shore regards as the best promotion in Europe. “I love fighting for them,” Jack admitted, “They treat you like a professional and can’t do enough for you. They also have a proven track record of getting guys [offers from] the UFC if they can keep winning.”
Marshman himself, for example, is a former Cage Warriors Middleweight champion, and even reigning UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping held CWFC gold in the early days of his career. For Jack Shore, then, promotional gold has to be high on the agenda – and having blasted through David Crol, Eddie Pobivanez and Alexandros Gerolimatos at featherweight under the Cage Warriors banner, that prospect might not be too far off.
In his way this Saturday, however, is experienced Frenchman Konmon Deh (8-3). Parisian Deh, a 32 year old riding a 6-fight win streak, is himself 2-0 under the Cage Warriors banner, and recently put the skids on prospect Elliot Jenkins’ unbeaten streak with a second round TKO. He will be eyeing more of the same as he prepares to face Abertillery’s latest MMA export.
While Shore regards Deh as a very tough and skilful opponent, he remains confident of pulling off the victory. What’s more, Shore admits there is a slight perk for facing an opponent with a reputation: “My last few opponents I haven’t really known massive amounts about going into those fights,” he says, adding, “[Konmon] is more experienced so it’s nice to have an idea of what I’m going in against this time!”
But Shore insists he feels no pressure to continue his perfect streak of finishes at the professional level: “The finish isn’t something I chase,” Shore clarifies, “But if [the opportunity] presents itself I’m fast to capitalise. People want value for money when they come to fight shows, [and] everyone prefers to see fights get finished so if I can provide that [this weekend] then I will.”
The main thing, however, is putting in the kind of performance that Jack and his proud father Richard (as well as a growing following), know he’s capable of. “[This is] definitely a step up in [competition] for me but it’s one that I’m confident I will deal with.”
The MMA Vanguard, likewise, share Jack’s confidence ahead of this crucial bout at Cage Warriors 83, a show that will be airing live on UFC Fight Pass. Win, lose, or draw, though, Jack’s career is plainly in good hands as he looks to continue to climb the ladder and represent not only Wales, but the Shore family name.