Bantamweight Hunter Azure experienced the highest of highs in 2019. Following a win over Chris Ocon at Dana White’s Contender Series in July, Azure was signed to the UFC and made his promotional debut with a victory over Brad Katona at UFC on ESPN+ 16 in September. Then 2020 derailed his plans.
Initially looking to establish himself in the UFC with his first full year in the promotion, Azure finds himself on the sidelines waiting out the coronavirus pandemic in lockdown with the rest of the world.
“It’s a roller coaster,” Azure told MMAWeekly.com. “We didn’t know if we were going to have a fight (for UFC 249), then they were saying they were having a fight, then they never had a location, everything was up in the air.
“It kept my mind twisted; thinking of who I was going to fight, where I was going to fight; if it was going to be out of the country that if I was going to be quarantined; it was a crazy couple weeks.”
Along with the mental toll, the start and stop nature of the situation made for a bit of an issue initially when it came to his training.
“Since they didn’t cancel (UFC 249) until the final week, I had a good full eight-week camp in,” said Azure. “I took a few days off because after a long camp your body is beat down and sore, I was getting my weight cut down, so I took a few days to recover and do the right things to get my body back ready to train.
“Now I’m just trying to stay ready, keep my weight down, keep the diet going and just sit by the phone and get a call soon. They say they’re going to get it up and going in May again, so I’m just trying to stay ready for that, and take care of business as soon as I get the call.”
Though he currently is awaiting the word on when he can return to fighting, when he does, Azure feels that he’ll be able to continue where he left off last year and continue his journey forward in the UFC without issue.
“My mindset hasn’t changed and the momentum will still be going,” Azure said. “Before joining the UFC, I had like seven fights within a year, so being able to take some time off and not focus on fight camps while training has improved me a lot, to be able to have the time to mature has helped a lot.
“It doesn’t matter who I fight. Right now at this early stage I’ve got to keep growing, and I’m aiming for the time. I’ve got to take the fights to get me up there. I’ve got to stay as ready as I can and just have to take care of my part.”