UFC 286: Jack Shore Says Featherweight Move “Just Makes Sense”

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Welsh UFC star Jack Shore will move up in weight this weekend at UFC 286. Shore, who has competed in the 135 pound bantamweight division so far in his UFC career, makes the step up to 145 pounds to fight Makwan Amirkhani at featherweight in London. 

The UFC rolls into London this weekend for the third time in twelve months. The city has become something of a hotspot for the promotion since their UK return last March was a top contender for 2022’s event of the year. The rise of fighters like Leon Edwards, Tom Aspinall, and of course Paddy Pimblett has made Britain a priority destination for the UFC, and the warm welcome they always receive has aided in making “UFC London” a regular on the MMA calendar.

Jack Shore played a role in the success of the UFC’s return to England when he defeated Timur Valiev in dominant fashion on the undercard of the first event back. This marked Shore’s sixteenth fight unbeaten, and his fifth in the UFC. Tipped as a top contender at 135 pounds, he was matched with a ranked opponent in Ricky Simón, but was outpaced and ultimately submitted late in the second round. 

Jack Shore has always been a big guy for the bantamweight division, and has blamed his drastic weight cuts on his recent performances—even his winning ones.

“We’ve toyed with the idea of [moving to featherweight] for 12, 18 months,” Shore told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour today, “The last four cuts to bantamweight have been really tough.” Shore believes his weight issues are detracting from what he can do in the cage, and those issues culminated in the defeat to Simón. He spoke with doctors who not only recommended he move up in weight but were also baffled he was getting to 135 pounds in the first place.

The UFC featherweight division is fiercely competitive, and Shore must restart his climb following the defeat. The rankings at featherweight are split between ageing veterans and rising stars, allowing the possibility of a favourable run up the division for Shore if he can earn a fight for a number quickly. His opponent in London, Makwan Amirkhani has been a feature of both recent London cards, winning one by impressive first-round submission. However, he has lost four of his last five bouts, and his future in the promotion is likely on the line against Shore.

Despite the previous showcase in the city returning a somewhat disappointing outcome, this weekend’s card is the most stacked yet—and the first PPV in Britain since UFC 204 in 2016. The headline bout is the rematch between UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards, and the man he recently knocked out in Kamaru Usman. Usman had been the victor of six title fights prior to the defeat and has been granted the chance to win back the belt he lost, but he’ll have to do it on Edwards’ turf.

The feature bout sees fan-favorite Justin Gaethje defend his number three ranking against red-hot up’n’comer Rafael Fiziev. Fiziev has only been bested once in his career, having been stopped by Magomed Mustafaev in his UFC debut. Gaethje is coming off a defeat to then-champion Charles Oliveria and is hungry to earn another title shot before it’s too late. He will be Fiziev’s hardest test to date, and these action fighters guarantee a barnburner.

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