THERE was plenty for Jack Shore and his team to smile abaout last Saturday after a flawless UFC debut at a sold-out Royal Arena in Copenhagen, writes Jason Batty.

The Abertillery bantamweight got to showcase his depth of skills, moving his unbeaten record to 12-0 in the process by man handling opponent Nohelin Hernandez and forcing a tap in the third round of their UFC Fight Night 160 encounter.

It was a trademark Shore performance of dominance and relentless pressure, and the perfect introduction to the world’s biggest stage.

“It couldn’t have gone any better,” he said. “By going three rounds, I got to show a bit more of my game. I couldn’t have planned it any better if I had tried.”

Shore has been destined for the UFC for a while, having spurned two approaches from them previously in order to gain more experience at Cage Warriors, where he cut his teeth, and earn a sizeable fanbase and world title along the way.

The wise management and nurturing process have paid dividends for the 24-year-old.

Shore looked at home on the big stage, embracing the occasion and not once looking overwhelmed.

“I felt calmer for this than I did for my Cage Warriors fights!” he added. “I was the main event for those, everybody was waiting for me, all eyes were on me.

“I’m not a nervous person before a fight anyway, and there was less pressure on this one than the last couple.”

The performance was a high calibre one, the Welshman winning every round and demonstrating superior striking and grappling until he latched on to the neck of the American, forcing him to tap in the third.

“Considering he’s meant to be a striking specialist, I think he landed one good shot, but apart from that every exchange on the feet I neutralised him with my boxing and my kicks,” said Shore.

“I think everybody expected me to come out, take him down and control him.

“Although I did, I got to show off my skill on my feet, so it was nice to pay a bit of a homage to all my coaches.

“My ground skills are at an elite level, even in the UFC.

“Hernandez comes from AKA, which is probably the best MMA wrestling gym in the world when you look at Khabib (Nurmagomedov), Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier.

“They are all elite level wrestlers. Without sounding cocky or arrogant, I think you can see in the fight, defensively and offensively grappling wise, I was a level above him.”

Shore was treated like “royalty” from the minute he touched down in Denmark, but the whirlwind experience didn’t fully sink in until the Welshman’s hand was raised after his victory.

“That was the most surreal part,” he continued. “Before I knew it, the fight was done, so I had to pinch myself to see if that really happened!

“It was great to get the win. I put so much into fight camp. I like to go into a fight knowing that there is nothing more I could have done, fully mentally prepared.

“It was a reward for all my coaches’ hard work over the years as well. They have put a lot of time and effort into me over the years.”

Shore’s performance impressed the UFC too, and it was good enough for them to award him with performance of the night honours and a $50,000 bonus to cap a memorable debut.

He said: “I wasn’t expecting it, what a night! And then to get that at the end brought my adrenalin back up. Thanks to Dana White for that one!”

Shore came out of the fight unscathed and looks set to return to the octagon early next year in London.

Until then, his focus is on the launch of Shore Mixed Martial Arts in Aberbeeg, scheduled for November.

The state-of-the-art facility will dwarf long-standing stable Tillery Combat, boasting a full-sized cage, strength and conditioning room as well as world-class coaches.

* Jack Shore will be a special guest at Cage Warriors 108 at the Viola Arena, Cardiff on Saturday, October 12 with fans having the chance to congratulate him on his big UFC debut win. For more details and tickets visit www.cagewarriors.com