Jack Marshman: Welsh middleweight takes early Army release to focus on UFC

Jack Marshman kicks John Phillips during the middleweight bout at UFC London in March 2019
Jack Marshman (L) defeated John Phillips at UFC London in his last fight

Jack Marshman has left the Army to concentrate on his UFC career.

The 29-year-old, from Abertillery in south Wales, will officially end almost 12 years as a Paratrooper on Friday, the day before fighting Edmen Shahbazyan at UFC 239 in Las Vegas.

Marshman received a formal warning after disobeying orders to fight John Phillips at UFC London last March.

"It was either turn down the fight or get early release, so I took early release," the middleweight said.

"My release date from the Army is the fifth of July, which is Friday."

Marshman had hoped to remain in service until next November, which would have guaranteed the Afghanistan veteran a half-pension.

"I wanted to [stay until November] but this fight got offered to me," he told BBC Sport Wales. "I couldn't fight while I was in the Army because of something to do with the insurances, so they basically didn't really give me a choice.

"I lose out on my half-pension but the fight was more important to me, a big fight on a massive card.

"It's obviously a gamble, I've spent just shy of 12 years in the Army but I know I'll be alright, I'm competing at the highest level in my sport."

Marshman struggled to make the weight before his win over fellow Welshman Phillips in his last fight.

But he says that being able to concentrate fully on his fight training is already showing benefits.

"At the time I was still serving with the Army so it was a bit difficult in training for that particular fight," said Marshman, who has a 23-8-0 professional record.

"It's all been sorted out and I'm in the best shape I've ever been and ready to fight really.

"My weight is really light and preparations before I got out here [to Las Vegas] were really good.

"Three days out and I'm not worried about my weight, I'm confident and I feel sharp. Physically I look in the best shape I've looked.

"We got out here yesterday [Tuesday] afternoon, so we're going to be out here for the week training and weigh-ins are obviously on Friday. We're good to go."

Shahbazyan 'one of the easier fights'

Shahbazyan (9-0-0) is tipped as one of the rising stars of UFC, but Marshman says the bookmakers' confidence in the 21-year-old Californian is misplaced.

"He's unbeaten and I think the UFC are really backing him, giving him a lot of hype and building him up and I do believe I'm one of the biggest underdogs on the card," Marshman said.

"But I've watched him and I'm confident it's one of the easier fights I've been given in the UFC, some of the fights I've been given have been the top calibre of the weight division.

"He's had a handful of fights; I didn't lose my first 11 fights either.

"I don't think it's a step up for me, I think it's a step down and I'll go out and prove that at the weekend."

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Jack Marshman and John Phillips trade blows at UFC London