Hunter Azure busted out of the gates of his MMA career like a bat out of hell. He rattled off eight wins to start which included a contract-winning performance on Contender Series and a UFC debut win over Ultimate Fighter winner, Brad Katona. However, he then hit his fight setback. Up a weight class (largely due to the pandemic), he was knocked out by Brian Kelleher.
But like John Kavanagh said ‘you either win or you learn’ and learn Azure did.
In his next fight, a bout with Cole Smith in September, he looked better than ever. Most notable of the changes were his wrestling, where he racked up five takedowns – which he said was a conscious move.
“I was trying to strike too much in my fights,” Azure admitted. “So it was just me getting back to my roots and finding my wrestling and trying to get comfortable with that and striking – just mix it all together.”
The mixing of styles, he said, is the most important part. While getting back to what he does best helps, he knows he needs to keep polishing up all parts.
“I was just favoring one style in each fight instead of just mixing it more,” he said. “I’m just trying to combine that together. It’s a mixed martial arts fight, so I’ve got to be prepared all over.”
Although getting back to the basics was a choice he made internally, he credits the changing of teams for executing it so well. Formerly of MMA Lab, Azure moved over to fellow Arizona gym Fight Ready.
“I have great coaches here at Fight Ready and they’ve been putting a lot of time and work into me,” he said. “It was nothing personal about the changes, just where I felt more comfortable and where I felt like I needed to grow. [Fight Ready] is a heavy wrestling gym with a lot of wrestlers, so I just wanted to stick with my roots.”
And wrestling isn’t the only roots that Azure has been putting down. Azure and his fiancé are the parents to a soon to be one year old boy. Fatherhood, for Azure, has been a huge motivator through camp – both in having a purpose to fight and getting to see his son around the gym.
“Through the camp, just waking up to him every day and seeing him, and having a family – it drove me,” he said. “I’m excited about the fact my fight is the same day as his birthday. We’ve got to spend a little time out there after the fight and give him a good first birthday.”
He added that he hopes he can supply his son with a 50k bonus check for his performance as well. That fight will take place this Saturday at UFC Vegas 23. He’ll fight Jack Shore as part of the preliminary card.
Listen to the whole audio of this interview at 36:51.