LAS VEGAS – Hunter Azure should be on Cloud Nine after securing a contract with the UFC, but listening to his post-fight interview, you’d be forgiven for wondering if he’d actually lost.
Azure (7-0) admitted that he wasn’t fully satisfied with his performance at Dana White’s Contender Series 19 on Tuesday night, as the undefeated bantamweight picked holes in his unanimous decision victory over Chris Ocon (4-1).
“Honestly I was a little hard on my performance tonight,” he said backstage at the UFC Apex after his win. “It wasn’t exactly the way I planned or wanted it to go. I wish I’d let my hands go a little more and maybe stayed up on those kicks, rather than going to the ground.
“He’s a tough opponent, he’s a little tougher than I expected, and I think that helped me earn that contract tonight, for sure.”
Azure went all three rounds against Ocon in a bout that saw him hold the upper hand for the most part, but the 27-year-old said he wasn’t on top of his game against a tough, tricky opponent.
“I just wasn’t finding my range,” he said. “The way he came out was a little different than what I expected, and I had to adjust on the fly. But once I started landing that low kick, I knew it was hurting him a lot, so I kept going back to that. I should have waited, maybe threw some hands, went back to it (and) mixed things up a little more rather than focusing on that one position the whole time.
“I think I got caught up in the moment in there with a big fight on the line, and just kind of played it safe a little bit,” Azure admitted. “It’s the first big fight I’ve had like this, so I’m glad I get to shake this one off and go back to the drawing board now.”
To have performed below his own expectations, yet still do enough to earn a UFC contract from White, must nonetheless be a source of great encouragement for Azure, who admitted at the time that he hadn’t fully comprehended the scale of his achievement.
“Oh man, I don’t know if it’s fully hit me yet,” he said. “I feel great, still feel healthy. It’s been a rollercoaster. This past year I’ve had six fights, and just moving down from Montana to Phoenix, meeting new people, coaches, training partners, it’s been a wild journey so far, and I’m excited for more of it to come.”
And, having secured his immediate fighting future in the UFC, the MMA Lab fighter said he can’t wait to get back into the cage and compete for the first time in the octagon, hopefully before the end of the year.
“It’s an amazing feeling, and it’s going to drive me to keep training harder,” Azure said. “I don’t ever want to get content with thinking I’m good or anything, so I just want to keep growing in every aspect of it.
“I’m willing to fight whoever they throw in front of me and just keep growing, but I’m not going to back down from anyone. I want to take a few fights and just grow, but hey, I’m here to fight. I’m in the fight game, so I’m willing to fight anyone. If they want me to fight next month, or whenever – I want to get one in by the end of the year, for sure.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Hunter Azure not happy with performance despite earning UFC deal at DWCS 19