No one was surprised when undefeated Welsh prospect and Cage Warriors bantamweight champion Jack Shore was announced as UFC’s latest U.K. signing.
“Tank” has blazed a trail through the European scene on route to his title capture and has become one of the poster boy’s of MMA in the U.K. and Ireland, particularly in his native Wales.
Despite Shore dedicating the majority of his life to eventually gracing the Octagon, he recalled how finding out that he had been offered a UFC contract came as a bit of a surprise.
“It was surreal. When we first got word that we were going to get a contract, my father was away for the weekend and I was in the cinema with my girlfriend watching a film. I could feel my phone vibrating, so I got my phone out and I had five missed calls from [my father]. I text him and said, ‘Stop calling me! I’m in the cinema!’ Then he said, ‘Check your WhatsApp’. We have a group on WhatsApp—me, Graham [manager] and my old man—and when I saw it we were both ecstatic. For the last 20 minutes of that film I don’t even know what happened. I just couldn’t wait to get outside and give my Dad a call to see [what was happening],” Shore told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.
“It was madness. We had that whole weekend and then obviously the contract coming through, just signing it and reading the terms…when I got to the last page it was my name and signature beside Dana White’s. To see that with my own eyes after pursuing it for so many years it felt like, not like a weight off my shoulders, but like a lifetime of commitment had finally paid off.”
Having contested 10 of his 11 professional bouts under the Cage Warriors banner, Shore admitted that it was somewhat “bittersweet” to part ways with the promotion.
“It’s bittersweet. This was always the end goal and that’s why I went with Cage Warriors because they’ve had so many guys go through to the UFC; it’s a huge platform to get to that next stage. They’ve always looked after me. Ever since my first fight I had big promos, they’ve always given me a great push on social media and I’ve become quite friendly with all the staff that work there. It’s bittersweet to leave them, but I’ll always be lingering, especially at the Welsh shows. I’ll be going up to the Night of Champions to do the meet and greet with my Dad too. It will always be a show that will have a place in my heart and I’ll always be eternally grateful for what they did, especially Ian [Dean] and Graham [Boylan], the management team and promotional team, I’ll never be able to thank them enough,” he said.
The Welsh bantamweight believes that scaling to the top of the Cage Warriors ranks—an organization synonymous with producing talent for the UFC—put him in a better position to negotiate with the UFC.
“It definitely helped. Being the poster boy for Wales and even the U.K., a lot of people considered me one of the top names along with Paddy [Pimblett] and a few others for the Cage Warriors brand. Back at UFC London, my dad was up there with [Jack] Marshman and Graham was there too. [Sean] Shelby spoke to Graham about possibly having me [sign for UFC] then. I had three fights left on my contract and I was supposed to see out those three fights. I think when Graham knew they were looking to have me on they were more than happy to let me go and that put us in a good position where we knew we could dictate things a bit and get a nice little contract. Hopefully I’ll get a nice little push because I’ve been such a big name on BT Sports and Fight Pass, I think that will help me compared to some guys who have signed that are relatively unknown.”
Shore is confident he is capable of following in the footsteps of former Cage Wariors champions Michael Bisping and Conor McGregor, who went on to secure UFC gold after their stints with Cage Warriors.
“I 100 percent believe [I can be a UFC champion]. Obviously, it’s a long way away at the minute. It’s the same as when I signed for Cage Warriors, everybody was saying, ‘When are you going to fight for the belt?’ and I used to always say it was a long way away. The end goal is to fight for that belt and to win that belt. Whether it happens or it doesn’t happen, everybody should have that goal in my opinion. And if you don’t want to be the best or the best you can be, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons,” he said.
“Give me a couple of years to work my way up the ranks and get a name for myself overseas, but I don’t see why not. There have been people like Joanna, Conor, Bisping and Dan Hardy who fought for the belt, they all did it, so why not me?”
Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Jack Shore interview begins at 34:00.