If you thought Darren Till possessed an ounce of respect for Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, you may not have guessed it whilst watching their showdown at UFC Gdansk. Till did in fact pay homage to Cerrone in his post-fight interview, which also included a somewhat lewd (yet highly entertaining) confrontation with Mike Perry, but his treatment of the UFC’s number six ranked welterweight contender was nothing short of ruthless, a performance which has cemented his place as one of the sport’s hottest prospects.
Coming into the fight with a record of 16-0, it is easy to see where 24-year-old Darren Till sources his confidence from. Promising an early and emphatic knockout win over Cerrone, the Liverpool native strutted into the contest as relaxed as can be, something that few people can do when facing one of the 170-pound division’s most devastating strikers.
This carried through to the fight, where Darren glided around the octagon effortlessly, pressing Cerrone against the fence and rendering the majority of the American’s kicks useless. Till did, however, take numerous kicks to his right leg, although he nullified their full effect by catching as many as he took and threatening with strikes of his own. The Englishman made Cerrone more hesitant as the fight went on, slipping left hands through the veteran’s guard and pushing a high pace that eventually became unstoppable.
His striking looked crisp, his movement graceful, and in the fourth minute of the opening round, Till landed a flush left hand on the chin of ‘Cowboy’, sending him reeling backward in defense. The onslaught continued, however, as the youngster unloaded a barrage of punches on his opponent, sending him to his knees and forcing referee Marc Goddard to step in. The finish was as devastating as promised and left zero doubts who the main talking point of this weekend’s card should be.
The future for Darren Till
For Darren Till, the future looks bright. Such a victory, as his 'Performance of the Night' bonus would suggest, has catapulted him into the precipice of a title shot in the eyes of many, leaving him possibly just one victory away from such an opportunity. At 24 years of age, it is hard to argue that Till is the future of the 170-pound division (as it stands), yet for him, the future is now. He sees himself as the best fighter in the world, and the confidence in which he makes such statements makes me reminisce to a certain Conor McGregor during his rise to stardom just a few years ago. Such unshakeable belief is rare in a sport as ruthless as mixed martial arts, yet it is difficult to shun the Englishman's claims when you consider just how impressive a victory he secured in the UFC Gdansk main event this Saturday. He does not seem out of place in a discussion of top contenders at 170-pounds, so we must discuss what is next for the rising star.
As I alluded to earlier, Darren was quick to mention the name of 'Platinum' Mike Perry, who climbed to cage side to confront the victorious Till during his post-fight interview. The contest may well happen, and I truly hope it does, but considering Perry is currently tied to a bout with Santiago Ponzinibbio in December, it would be a shame to waste the momentum that Till now holds by sidelining him until next Spring, when the Perry fight would most likely take place.
Instead, I suggest an alternate approach. In next month's UFC 217 pay-per-view at Madison Square Garden, two of the welterweight division's best are set to face off when Jorge 'Gamebred' Masvidal faces Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson in a fight that may well steal the show, although that is a tall order amidst a card so steeped in history and fantastic fights. If I was the matchmaker, I would put the prospect Darren Till against the winner of this contest. Both matchups seem to make perfect sense if neither is granted an immediate title shot against champion Tyron Woodley, which is not a strong possibility following Dana White's recent comments on the welterweight title picture at a press conference in Canada.
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