LAS VEGAS — Poplar, Montana is home to a UFC fighter.
Hunter Azure, a former four-time high school state champion and MSU-Northern wrestler, continued his rapid rise in the mixed martial arts world by winning a fight and earning a UFC contract on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
Azure (7-0) kept his perfect career record intact with a convincing unanimous decision over fellow bantamweight Chris Ocon (4-1).
“Man, I was nervous when I walked out of here, I didn’t know if it was enough, I was hoping it was,” Azure said in a post-fight interview. “I put my heart into it, there was four other tough guys on this show. I hope my hard work came through and here I am, now.”
Azure put his wrestling on the display with several takedowns and submission attempts. Azure never did get the finish, but he continued to throw strikes until the final bell, walking away with the unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26, as well as a UFC deal.
A dominant performance from Hunter Azure!
— UFC (@ufc) July 10, 2019
The 27-year-old was one of five winners on the night, all of whom received contracts. Azure was the only winner who didn’t end his fight with a finish, but ultimately White was impressed with his skill set and determination.
“When we asked Hunter to come on the show, he said he wanted to take another fight first,” White said. “So he risked the opportunity to come on this show to take another fight. Then he comes in, fights the way he did, tries to finish the entire fight. This kid is right up my alley.”
Azure was the first four-time state champ in Poplar history, and now he’s the first UFC fighter to come from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Following the fight, he had words of advice for young kids in his community.
“Put your heart into everything and keep chasing your dreams,” he said. “There are downfalls, and things don’t go your way, but pick yourself up and keep that head held high.”
Azure is the second Montanan to earn a contract on the Contender Series, following Helena’s Sean O’Malley (10-0) back in 2017. Both fighters live and train in Arizona at the prestigious MMA Lab.