Title challenger Jack Shore hails unprecedented Welsh support ahead of Cage Warriors 97 sell-out

Jack Shore

Update: After the late news that Omer Cankardesler was removed from Cage Warriors 97 due to a failed medical examination, it was uncertain if Jack Shore would get to fight. Some eleventh-hour wheeling and dealing saves the day, though,  with Brazilian Weslley ‘Pia’ Maia set to face Shore in the featherweight non-title main event.

Jack Shore blazes into the sold-out Ice Arena Wales with one goal in mind; to siege the iron throne and become Cage Warriors featherweight champion.

Undefeated featherweight, Shore (8-0) has battled through ice and fire to reach the pinnacle of Cage Warriors and after winning seven fights under the banner, a title challenge on home soil awaits.

Taking place on Saturday, September 29 in Cardiff, Wales, Cage Warriors 97 marks a cornerstone for Welsh mixed martial arts with a legitimate sell-out confirmed. 3,000 supporters are expected as Jack Shore battles Oemer Cankardesler for the vacant strap.

Jack Shore discusses late replacement

It’s not the fight which was originally billed, though, with Jakub Wikłacz being replaced by Germany’s Cankardesler (9-5-2) three weeks ago due to injury.

Initially, Shore was worried the title opportunity would slip through his grasp, he told DreySports, but faith in CW matchmaker, Ian Dean, was rewarded with a swift replacement.

“It’s one of them ones, isn’t it. Obviously, I was a little bit disappointed to hear Jakub had pulled out because style wise I think we matched-up quite well,” Jack Shore said. “So I think it would have been an entertaining fight. But, it’s the nature of the beast, in MMA there’s always pull-outs. I’ve had a guy pull-out on me before at four days notice.

“Realistically, I knew they would find a fight with Ian Dean being the matchmaker, he’s good at what he does and he’s got a lot of contacts all around Europe. I knew he would get someone.”

An average record for Shore’s opponent may hinder the significance of the main event, but the fighter from Abertillery refuses to downplay the chances of Cankardesler just because of it.

“It is what it is, I literally have to fight who they can get me, especially on this short notice,” he said. “The last time I had a guy pull out they got me a replacement who was 3-2 and he was one of the toughest fights I’ve had, so I’m not overlooking him as such.

“I’m not an easy guy to match anyway, I had five people turn me down before they matched me with Jakub, so it’s one of them ones.

“People will say what they want to say but it doesn’t really bother me. If people were so keen to step in and fight on three week’s notice, as keen as he is, then there wouldn’t the issue of people talking about legitimacy. All credit to him for stepping up. I’m not overlooking him in any way shape or form.”

Jack Shore looks to become the third Welsh champion

A win on Saturday would see Shore become only the third Welsh-born Cage Warriors champion, behind Jack Marshman and Brett Johns, who are both now signed to the UFC.

For the 23-year-old, though, the possibility of securing such an accolade in front of the biggest crowd in Welsh MMA history is an alluring feat.

“Me and my fans have been calling for [it] for a long time,” Jack Shore began. “It’s all I’m thinking about at the minute, every day, every training session, just visualising getting that win and getting my hands on that belt. When I do get hold of it, I’ve got every intention of keeping it a long time.

“It will be a full house on the night and I think the atmosphere will be something that they’ve never seen, especially in Wales, before.”

An unconventional route for Jack Shore could lead him to main event the biggest show in history

Trained by his father Richard Shore; who also heads up the Cage Warriors Academy in Wales, Jack has followed an unconventional route to the top of UKMMA. It’s a path which can only be described as weirdly patient.

In 2015, he capped off his amateur career by winning a European gold medal under the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation, beating four athletes in successive days.

It’s an achievement which easily could have propelled him into some high profile fights as a professional, as it has done for other IMMAF amateurs. Instead, Shore returned to the grind, fighting a slew of unrecognisable names in search of further experience and respect as he adjusted to a less restrictive ruleset.

“It worked for me because I say it every time, you’ve got to take one fight at a time,” Shore told DreySports. “There’s some people like you said, have a good amateur record, they turn pro, they think they’re untouchable, they think they’ve already made it so they jump straight in at pro, they only have one or two fights, they fight a good level guy and they come unstuck.”

Low and behold, Shore’s forbearing development soon paid off and by mid-2017 his marketability as one of Cage Warriors’ biggest names was obvious.

Every time Shore fought, his position on the card would rise, as the chants of ‘Jack Shore’s on Fire’ only intensified. By the end of 2017, his support was too significant to ignore for the promotion’s President, Graham Boylan, and Shore was flown to Antwerp, Belgium for his first professional fight outside of Wales.

Accompanied by his mighty traveling group of supporters, Shore submitted Ayton De Paepe in the very first round. A coming of age victory against ex-UFC fighter, Vaughan Lee followed, sealing Shore’s irrefutable status.

Jack Shore

Jack Shore vs. Vaughan Lee. Credit Cage Warriors/Dolly Clew.

In a sport which fighters race to join the UFC; often naively, Shore’s progression has been perfect.

“I haven’t rushed anything but at the same time, I’ve been testing myself and fighting better guys every time. The move up in class every time has done things for my confidence but also for my skill set as well. Now I’m at the upper end of the scale on the European circuit and it proves how I’ve done it the right way.

September 29 will be a defining moment for Shore, but already, “Tank” has dreams of a title defence on the grandest stage in Cage Warriors history. Their monumental 100th event on December 8, which emanates from the same location as Saturday’s fight.

“That will obviously be the biggest card Cage Warriors have ever put on,” Shore ended. “I imagine they’ll look to top the Super Saturday cards they’ve done, being Cage Warriors it’s a big deal and the fact it’s in Wales, when I get this title, it will only make sense if I’m top of the bill defending my belt against a big name in there.

“I’m not looking past September 29 but providing it all goes well and I get a good win in good fashion I can’t see why that wouldn’t be a great way for me to end the year.”

Cage Warriors 97 will be broadcast live on BT Sport 1 and UFC Fight Pass on Saturday at 9pm.

Photos Copyright Cage Warriors/Dolly Clew.