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A cancellation is the only thing that has been able to slow down Hunter Azure in his rising MMA career


April 15, 2020

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Former Montana State University-Northern wrestler Hunter Azure made a statement at the 2018 Lights Out at the Dome in Havre. Since that time, Azure has a perfect record in professional Mixed Martial Arts, and a contract the UFC, which included a big fight at the now postponed UFC 249.

Not much can stop the UFC, but last week, the COVID-19 pandemic did.

And so far, that's the only thing that's been able to stop Hunter Azure.

Many Montana State University-Northern fans remember the name Hunter Azure when it comes to wrestling. Azure may have wrestled only two years for the Lights, but he left quite the impression on the program. Even before his years at Northern, Azure was lighting up the mat for Poplar as a prestigious, four-time Class B-C state champion.

Azure pursued a new path after his years at MSU-Northern, when injuries cut his career with the Lights short. Being a Mixed Martial Arts fan since he was young, Azure worked his way up the ranks in the world of UFC and MMA, eventually becoming a feature on UFC owner Dana White's "Contender Series" in the Featherweight division at 145 pounds.

With a UFC contract in hand, Azure had a lot to look forward to in his MMA career.

And what a career Azure has put up so far. Back in 2019, Azure won his bantamweight debut against Brad Katona, keeping up his undefeated record. Then, Azure picked up his contract by defeating Chris Ocon in a unanimous decision in the Contender Series.

Azure had a lot more coming, too, including a fight scheduled for the UFC undercard. The fight was supposed to be a big one, as well. But the COVID-19 concern got in the way of that moment, as the event was canceled last week.

With the undefeated record that Azure has worked hard for in his career on his resume, the undercard was looking to bring about some exciting bouts. Azure has proved his talent in MMA and as a professional UFC fighter. His record makes him an excellent opponent in the ring and his determination to do better drives him even further ahead.

On top of that, there are not a lot of UFC fighters from Montana. Azure and Sean O'Malley are the only two Montanans currently fighting in the UFC. There are not many times when an athlete from Big Sky Country makes it to the professional leagues and does incredibly well. In Azure's case, he has made his name known once again.

Azure's next bout was to be his biggest, too, against fellow bantamweight Umar Nurmagomedov at the UFC 249.

That bout would have been a tough one for Azure, as Nurmagomedov carries a 12-0 undefeated record in his career. With two undefeated fighters entering the Octagon, one was going to be handed their first loss of their career. That narrative alone sets the stage for what would have been an exciting match. But COVID-19 put that match down and out.

But there is no doubt that Azure will still be working hard to train for his next bout, even with COVID-19 putting a damper on life right now. When Azure talked with UFC's Thomas Gerbasi back in August of 2019, Azure stated he wanted to put up 10 to 13 more years as a professional UFC fighter and that he had to keep learning every day to make that goal.

Azure told Gerbasi that he did not want to rush anything, either. It was satisfying to reach the first part of his goal in his UFC contract, but like many others, Azure plans to take his career one fight at a time. Either way, he will keep training as much as possible and even with things at a standstill these days, Azure will be ready for his next fight when it is all passed.

Azure will hopefully still get his shot at Nurmagomedov because the winner of that fight was going to be catapulted into the upper echelon of contenders. Azure is hopeful it still happens, as White announced Tuesday that UFC hopes to resume in May.

So, at the end of the day, it has been an incredible past decade for Azure. From claiming his fourth Class B-C state wrestling championship, putting up a good two years at MSU-Northern and now making his name heard in the professional Mixed Martial Arts world, Azure has made his case as one of the best athletes in Montana history.

And he still plans to put in more years of what has been an amazing MMA career.


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