Tuesday, July 9th (yes, I know it’s past the weekend, but there’s a lack of prospect action this weekend), American bantamweight prospect Hunter Azure will be in action for Dana White’s Contender Series, where he will be looking to score a win opposite Chris Ocon. He will be looking to score a win, as Azure looks to snag a UFC contract the same night he fights. Azure represents the MMA Lab, a top camp in the sport. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”
Wrestling: Azure wrestled collegiately at Montana Northern, so it’s no surprise it’s a major strength of his. Azure has powerful takedowns which is made possible because of his explosive shooting ability. He is relentless in his pursuit as well. When he manhandles his opponent to the ground, he has a suffocating top game that is difficult to get up from. From top position, he throws heavy leather that does major damage and is effective. It can open him up to score a finish from strikes or force an opponent to give up position, where Azure can finish them.
Power Athlete: In addition to being a physical specimen with immense power, he’s an outstanding overall athlete. Because of his natural athleticism, he has been able to pick up non-wrestling MMA concepts more quickly. This has become true with his striking ability. Sure, he’s no Anderson Silva on the feet, but he’s quickly improving from fight to fight. See his fight against Jamie Hernandez, where he folded him up with a body kick. Everything he does is done with power, from his punching to his grip strength to his stranglehold. That’s why I call him a “power athlete.”
Competition Level: Because Azure is still just a young prospect, he hasn’t taken a step up in competition quite yet. His opponents have a combined record of 17-15. This is common among young fighters, but it does make it more difficult to gauge their ceiling when they’ve yet to really challenge themselves. He’s still just 27 years old, so him taking his time to move up the ladder is not a huge deal. That said, he trains at the MMA Lab, which means the competition he sees on a daily basis is top notch, meaning he’s getting high quality experience there.
Top-25 UFC Bantamweight: Azure is definitely a guy that will have staying power once he gets to the UFC. If his development continues as it has, he could be a contender somewhere down the line. He is in a shark tank of a division, though. There are a lot more accomplished wrestlers than he, which hurts his stock a little bit. However, his overall athleticism and developing ability make me believe that he will be in the top half of the UFC bantamweight ranks at some point in his career.