After winning titles in three different weight classes last year, Tyler Shipp (6-0) seems to have finally found his home at middleweight. He’ll defend his 185-pound title at Hardrock MMA 99 this weekend against veteran Gavin Agnew (8-7).
“I’m feeling great at 185! The weight is the perfect class for me,” Shipp told BluegrassMMA. “I usually walk around 205-210 so it’s just the right weight. I’m glad I pushed myself to get to the weight and taking the game serious, I don’t see being beat at the amateur level at 185.”
Still just 20 years old and just over a year out of high school, Shipp has gained some notoriety and clearly has a big fan base, winning the 2017 BluegrassMMA Amateur Fighter of the Year award.
Despite the fact that he’s young, whispers about the pro ranks have already started, but he’s not in any rush to make the jump just yet.
“I’m focused on defending my belt right now and then after that we’ll see,” Shipp said.
“I’m thinking of fighting for a title maybe in a different promotion before going pro. I’ve felt like I’ve made a big statement on the amateur scene but I’m not getting ahead of myself, I know the pros aren’t going anywhere. When my coaches say I’m ready and I prove it, I’ll go pro. I feel like I’m headed in the right direction with the titles and amateur fighter of the year! I’m feeling like 2018 is going to separate me from the amateur level and put me in the path to the pros. My dream is too be a professional fighter, and I’ll do anything to make sure that dream becomes reality.”
Shipp is set to defend his title against Agnew, a fighter with more experience who will be competing in his fifth title fight.
“My biggest challenge is the strength and experience of my opponent,” Shipp said. “I’m looking forward to the fight with Agnew, he’s a very tough experienced dude, but as long as I’m champ that belt isn’t going anywhere. I’ve really put together the system my head coach Andrew Wood has put into place and I feel like I’ve got the tools and the game plan to beat Gavin.”
Shipp has wanted to compete in MMA since he was a kid, even doing kickboxing tournaments and grappling tournaments while waiting for the day until he turned 18 and could make his debut. Now it appears as though he could be nearing the next level of his career just two years later.
“I believe come Sunday they will have me separated from the amateurs,” Shipp said. “I know that with a great performance I will stick out that night. With so much potential already on the card I know it’ll be hard but I’m ready to make a statement.”