Bahrain Hosting IMMAF World Championships, Brave 9: Kingdom of Champions

Great things are happening in the sport of MMA in Bahrain.

The 2017 IMMAF World Championships, which has been taking place there all this week, is to MMA’s top amateur hopefuls what the Olympics is to such sports as Judo and Wrestling. And, as related to the competitors at this year’s World Championships by way of an official letter from UFC President Dana White, the eyes of fans, fighters, and promoters across the world will be firmly fixed on the action, with no shortage of interest in those able to make the podiums come the end of the week.

Speaking of the Olympics, the current target of making the 2028 Games from Los Angeles is looking an increasingly likely prospect, with this week’s competition effectively helping to pave the way for an even bigger and more legitimate platform for the top-ranking MMA fighters of the future.

So with the IMMAF 2017 World Championships semi-finals set to take place throughout the day on Thursday November 16, you would have been forgiven for thinking the Kingdom of Bahrain would have had it’s fill of vital MMA action. But that’s where proud partners and Manama-based MMA powerhouse Brave Combat Federation come into it. When the week’s amateur fight-based festivities come to a close and a series of new IMMAF World Champions are crowned, Brave CF will host Brave 9: Kingdom of Champions, showcasing some of the best and most exciting talent from around the world.

With no fewer than three World Championship belts up for grabs, few shows have been as aptly titled as ‘Kingdom of Champions’. In the main event, undefeated Moroccan Ottman Azaitar (9-0) will face Mexican Alejandro Martinez (4-1) for the 155 lbs crown, with Alejandro having bested stunned veterans Paulo Bananada and Fabian Quintanar courtesy of back-to-back finishes. Azaitar, a dominant force on the European scene prior to signing for Brave, will also have his sights set on a third straight win under the Brave banner, and plenty of confidence coming into this bout.

At featherweight, Algerian exponent Elias Boudegzdame (14-4) will look to follow up on first round submission wins over Walel Watson and Masio Fullen, but with UFC veteran Lucas ‘Mineiro’ Martins (19-3) standing across the cage, that could be easier said than done. Martins rides a four-fight win streak that includes a final UFC victory over tough Scot Rob Whiteford, a victory that closed out a 4-3 run in the promotion. He has never lost outside the UFC, and defeated Fabian Galvan by submission in his Brave debut.

Finally, with bantamweight gold on the line, Filipino favourite Stephen Loman (9-2) will look to become the first of his countrymen to win a major World Title beyond the confines of Asia. Gary ‘Saint Lion’ Mangat (10-1), a Canadian of Indian heritage, will look to prevent that, and snare his second Filipino scalp after his Brave CF debut win over Loman’s compatriot Troy Bantiag.

Amid of slew of other great fights, MMA legend Gesias ‘JZ’ Cavalcante (21-10-1) will announce his presence to Brave CF fans as he faces German-based Iraqi stand out Alan Omer (20-5), while Jordanian Nawras Azbakh (6-0) faces Brazilian bantamweight ace Felipe Efrain (11-2). For us here at The MMA Vanguard, however, all eyes will be on Egyptian sensation Ahmed Amir (7-1), as one of our feature fighters faces a tough test in Swedish lightweight Erik Carlsson (6-2). ‘The Butcher’, who has become somewhat synonymous with producing spectacular upsets, will look to extend his impressive six-fight win streak, this time as the fight favourite according to Tapology.com.

For coverage of all of the winners and losers in both the amateur and professional ranks, keep it right here at mmavanguard.com!

Jack Shore

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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.

Jose Torres

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When Titan Fighting Championship signed Jose ‘Shorty’ Torres in late 2015, it was clear they were signing a mixed martial artist of huge potential. Considered the world’s top amateur fighter by virtually all credible metrics, 24 year old Torres closed out his pre-professional career with an outstanding 25-1 record. His sole defeat, for the record, came by split decision in his very first bout. Since then, Torres has rattled off 29 consecutive victories, 4 of them in the professional ranks.

Regarding that 25-1 record, the integrity of competition levels could not be any more robust. The first ever two-time world champion in the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF), Torres was in the right place at the right time in order to comprehensively conquer the amateur ranks. The IMMAF held it’s inaugural World Championships in 2014; Jose Torres would enter the bantamweight tournament, and speaks of the competition with a genuine reverence:

“The IMMAF for me was a very intimidating tournament because it is the closest thing to the Olympics as it can get. You have national champions from every country, [and you have] pro level guys in the amateur ranks trying to prove they are the best in the world. It was a game changer for me,” he says, adding “It made me train harder because I knew the [size of the] challenge ahead of me.”

Torres met opponents from Romania, Finland, Ukraine, and, in the finals, the United Kingdom. Carl Burton, now a 2-0 professional fighter in his own right, offered Torres a tough battle – but the final would conclude with ‘Shorty’ having his hand raised, a scenario the pair would see repeated when Torres enrolled in 2015. Once again enrolling at bantamweight, this time Torres and Burton would meet in the first round, with an identical outcome. Torres would proceed via decision, before besting opposition from Belgium, Northern Ireland, and Kazakhstan. By now, the competition in the IMMAF World Championships was getting more and more fierce:

“The IMMAF grew with more and more countries joining, and the talent has gotten much better. I saw and felt the difference from my first to second year and I see [that improvement continuing] now as a spectator. More and more countries are taking this even more seriously, and it will continue to get better and stronger every year.”

Speaking on whether he would recommend amateurs competing in the IMMAF World Championships, Torres adds: “The IMMAF is great for amateur fighters. It gives you the best possible look [ahead] at what you might face as a pro. It has professional-level fighters [competing in] the amateur ranks but, the best thing is as an amateur is, losing is a learning experience to better prepare you as a pro. It has helped me a lot and has better prepared me now as a pro. There is nothing more any amateur could ask for.”

If ever evidence was required to back up Torres’ high praise for the international tournaments put on by the IMMAF, you just have to look at his pro career to date. After a couple of false starts, ‘Shorty’ finally debuted for Florida’s Titan FC in March 2016. 13 months on, Torres holds the Titan FC Flyweight title, remains undefeated, and will face the Titan FC Bantamweight champion come May 19 in a bid to become a two-division champion. This will be Torres’ fifth pro fight.

Already besting some of the toughest international stars outside the top three or four MMA organizations, Torres has wasted no time cementing his status as not only the best amateur fighter the world had seen, but a genuine blue-chip prospect with outstanding potential going forward.

Farkhad Sharipov (17-7) will have his hands full come Titan FC 44…

Speaking of his time with Titan FC, Torres states: “They signed me because of my amateur record and accolades and they have taken care of me ever since. Titan FC gave me some great challenges with my first two opponents and because of that I’ve been able to show my skill and be better respected as a pro.”

Travis Taylor would be Torres’ first opponent, a fellow professional debutant and former amateur champion fighting out of Delray Beach, Florida. The fight lasted 2:09, with Torres clamping on a fight-ending guillotine choke to force the tap and clinch a debut win. Brazilian Reynaldo Duarte would be next, a 16-fight veteran training out of American Top Team, with 12 years experience in the sport. This time, Torres would be pushed the distance – but the judge’s verdicts in, there would be no upset; Jose Torres had his hand raised as the recipient of a Unanimous Decision.

A perfect 2-0, Torres would next find himself propelled towards title glory in only his third pro fight. Puerto Rican stand out Abdiel Velazquez (then 7-2) had recently bested Cuban ace Alexis Vila under the Titan FC banner, and would look to claim the vacant Titan FC Flyweight title at ‘Shorty’s’ expense. Despite an aggressive start from Velazquez, Torres remained unphased, hurting Velazquez in the first round, before out-grappling his opponent and ending the round fishing for a rear naked choke; the second round was largely one-way, with Torres utilizing leg kicks to good effect before crushing his foe with two strong lefts and a heavy knee. The referee waved off the bout, giving Torres his first professional championship.

Speaking of that fight, Torres states: “The fight came about because I was a top prospect with an amateur record that has [still] never been seen before. Titan FC gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to fight for the vacant title in such a short amount of time and because of that, I’ve been able to gave some of the best competition outside of the UFC.”

Of Abdiel, Torres adds: “Abdiel velazquez was a great opponent, but I wasn’t worried about the competition. Thanks to my extensive amateur record, I was able to face many opponents like Abdiel before, which made me much more comfortable on taking the fight in such a short [period of time].”

There would be no relenting, either. Titan FC 43 would present a new opponent, a former UFC veteran with an 18-2-2 record. Brazilian Pedro ‘The Rock’ Nobre remains one of the best fighters in the lighter weight classes, with an extensive record of success in his native Brazil. Incredibly, he would last just 86 seconds as he challenged Torres for his newly-won title.

“Pedro nobre was a fight I badly wanted,” Torres explains. “I wanted to prove, not just to myself, but to everyone watching that I am a force to be reckoned with and that my amateur career was worth it. I want to inspire other amateur athletes to follow my path and get as much practice as possible, because if they do, hopefully they will have the same outcome against much more experienced opponents like I have. It was a very special moment for me!– and every bit as poignant as Torres states!

A brutal right uppercut spelled the end for Nobre, and followed a succession of heavy right hands, knees, and body shots. This fight was as one-sided as Torres no doubt dreamed it would be.

Not even Tim Elliott, now a UFC fighter, could match the ferocity and speed of Torres’ destruction of Nobre. It’s no wonder Titan FC COO Lex McMahon would contact Dana White about a possible jump to the UFC  – but given that hasn’t materialized quite yet, 4-0 Torres will now try to underline his already outstanding accomplishments as he challenges Farkhad Sharipov at Titan FC 44.

“Farkhad is another opponent that I called out because I know he will be a great challenge for me. He is bigger, stronger and much more experienced, but I know with my training and style of fighting that I will be able to put on a great show and finish him. He is another champion and because of that, I want to fight him. I dont shy away from a great battle and I know if I win, that is my UFC deal!”

With that kind of motivation, one might fear for Sharipov’s chances at Titan FC 44!

“I want to create history again, 5-0 with two belts! Never been done before and that’s my motivation for this fight. I call a 3rd round TKO.”

Well Jose, nobody here at MMA Vanguard has any doubt about that!

#WeCan #WeWill #Together #WeAre #TeamShorty