Jack Shore: Looking To Make A Statement
By Louis Evans
Despite stagnation due to the recent Covid-19 pandemic, the MMA winds appear to be blowing very much in the favour of a certain Jack ‘Tank’ Shore.
The 25-year-old Welsh Warlord was initially set to compete at London’s UFC Fight Night 171: Woodley v Edwards, only for the event to be cancelled the week prior. Now, with a decisive second-round finish over Louisiana’s Aaron Phillips (12-4-0) back in August, the rising Abertillery ace intends to maintain the momentum as he zooms in on German powerhouse, Khalid Taha (14-2-0).
November’s showdown will be Taha’s first bout in over a year, having served a one-year suspension after testing positive for diuretics – a drug used to increase the amount of water a fighter can expel from their body – following ‘The Warrior’s UFC 243 third-round arm-triangle choke win over Bruno Silva – a fight he failed to make weight for by one pound.
“Taha’s very skilful, very powerful, he’s an all-round fighter.”
Yet, the flunked test doesn’t seem to have inconvenienced the headstrong Shore. When quizzed about his mentality going into the Vegas clash, ‘Tank’ insisted:
“I don’t look too much into it. If we looked back to my fights in Cage Warriors, I probably fought a couple of guys who would’ve popped themselves if they were in the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) system. It makes no difference to me. He’s a good fighter, he hits hard, he’s very skilful. I know he’s had a year out of the ring; that affects some people, doesn’t affect others. I’m not gonna look at it as ‘he’s had a year out and he hasn’t fought, he’s gonna be rusty.’ It could go the other way, He could’ve been grinding nonstop for a year.
“I’m not looking too much into the popped test. I mean, it would kill me to lose to somebody who’s popped for… I don’t even know what he popped for! Was it steroids or something like that? In my opinion, if someone feels like they’ve got to do that, it shows to me a little bit of mental weakness. I’m fully confident in my skill set and my physical attributes. But could it be genuine? Could it be that he was struggling to make the weight and he regrets taking it? We’ll see on fight night, We’ll see what he’s made of. Just because of the ban, I’m not here to slag him off, he’s very skilful, very powerful, he’s an all-round fighter.
“He’s a good challenge for me, he’s a step up in class compared to the last guy (Aaron Phillips [12-4-0]). He’s someone I feel I can deal with as well, and put on a good show and make a good statement.”
While acknowledging the German’s skillset represents a step up in the quality of opposition, the brutish Taha hasn’t done much to unnerve the former Cage Warriors’ bantamweight boss, who feels fully confident with the armoury in his own arsenal.
“His strength is obviously his striking but I don’t look at him as an Adesanya or a McGregor, an elite level striker,’ says the 5’8’’ Blaenau Gwent battler.
“I think he’s a decent striker but he’s very powerful; sets his feet, big hooks, big power punches. People looked at me as a wrestler for a long time but I showed in my debut I can strike. I feel if I can keep him long on the feet. I can have some fun in there as well. I’ve gotta be looking out for them big power shots obviously, that’s the main danger he brings I suppose. But there’s a lot of ways in which I can win this fight. I’m not gonna give too many of them away! But there’s a lot of ways in which I can fight this fight and still come out on top. I’ll leave it down to my coaches, whatever they think is best that’s what I’ll do.”
A win over the Dortmund enforcer will see ‘Tank’ climb to 3-0 in the UFC. Yet, while it may appear to many that Shore has flown right out of the gate, the humble Valleys boy remains very much committed to the process, not looking to outstretch his grasp in his still blossoming career.
At the start of the year, the Welsh prospect outlined his goal of having four fights before the end of 2020. Now seeking to maximise what has been a stagnant year for many, he offers a new vision for the future and evaluates where he sees himself in the division, should he win in Sin City.
“Obviously Covid has fucked it up a little bit,’ claims Shore.
“This would’ve been my third fight this year had (UFC Fight Night) London not been cancelled. It is what it is, we’re all in the same boat at the moment I suppose. A win in style and looking good doing it, I don’t see any reason why I can’t fight a top 15 next. Potentially one more after this one before they give me a top 15 but I’m not the matchmaker. I’m not cocky but I’m very confident that I can compete with those top 15 guys and do very well.
“There’s a lot of names in that division that I look at and think I could have some answers for them. A good win, in a good fashion and I think I could be pushing for that top 15. But if they say, ‘Hold your horses, kid. One more’ then I’ll do one more (fight).
“I’m not one of these record padders or one of these guys who think they’re entitled to everything. There’s so many guys on Twitter saying, ‘you’re too scared to fight me, I deserve a top 15. Why are you scared?’ – They’re not scared mate, are they? If they were scared, they wouldn’t be fighting in the UFC. I’m not entitled, If they (the UFC) say you’re two to three fights away yet from a top 15 then I’ll go out and win another two/three fights.
“I think they (the UFC) seem to be behind me a little bit, they seem to know who I am. They’re putting me on the Vegas card when they could’ve easily just chucked me on Fight Island. That sort of tells me some things. To get a win in style – a finish, early finish – I don’t think I’ll be far away from a fight with someone in the top 15.”
Shore will meet Taha on 7th November at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.