Tillery Combat: How the gym at the heart of the Welsh valleys is taking the MMA world by storm

It’s been a long time coming, but finally Wales has emerged as a major player in the world of MMA. With three fighters currently active in the UFC, and a wealth of talent competing in Europe’s premier organisation – Cage Warriors – there has never been a more exciting time to be a Welsh MMA fan. There’s a real buzz here at the moment, at the heart of which lies Tillery Combat. So who are the people behind the team at Tillery?

Situated in the neck of the Eastern Valley – between Blaina and Abertillery- Tillery combat was started by head coach, Richard Shore, in 2008. Here Shore, affectionately known as Shaky, runs a well oiled Jiu Jitsu and MMA team, that compete at both a regional and world class level.

Holding a black belt in BJJ himself, Shore has an ethos and style of teaching, that clearly filters down to students at all levels of the club.

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On any given night you can expect to see the mats packed with a mixture of men and women with a variety of experience- from professional and amateur fighters, to beginners and hobbyists alike. The gym embraces the tough edge of competitive combat, as well as a family atmosphere that makes it a stay in the local community.

Though don’t be deceived by its humble backdrop, there’s a confidence about the athletes here that only comes from training of the highest calibre. And why shouldn’t they be confident? With former Cage Warriors champion Jack Marshman making his UFC debut in 2016, and 5 out of 6 fighters winning bouts at Cage Warriors 83, the proof of work is there to be seen. As we continue into 2017, it would seem that only the sky is the limit for Tillery Combat and its affiliate clubs.

Who to watch out for

Jack Marshman

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The first Welsh man to sign for the UFC, Jack ‘The Hammer’ Marshman will aim to continue his climb of the Middleweight, division when he fights at UFC Glasgow in July. The former paratrooper (21-6) is known for his exciting style of fighting, and will face off with Canadian grappler, Ryan Janes.

Josh Reed

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At (7-0) Josh ‘Crazy Horse’ Reed is quickly ascending the ranks of the Cage Warriors Bantamweight division. After a brace of victories over game opponents in Gavin Kelly and Martin Sheridan, Josh will have his sights firmly set on the top of the division, in a potential title fight towards the end of the year.

Jack Shore

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Jack ‘Tank’ Shore is arguably the biggest prospect on the Cage Warriors roster right now. Jack holds a perfect record of (5-0) 4 by way of submission, and boasts one of the biggest followings in the UK. After a first round Victory over Konmon Deh at CW83, there’s an air of something special about this proud Welshman – which will see him continue to take on the Featherweight division with supreme confidence. Keep an eye on Jack in the next 18 months.

By Lewis Smith