To many, it already seemed a foregone conclusion that Darren Till would rebound from his loss against Tyron Woodley at UFC 228 this past weekend in London. The ovation he received during his walkout from the English fans and the singing of Sweet Caroline almost blew the roof of the 02 Arena. However, the cheers and singing fell silent when in the second round, Jorge Masvidal knocked out Till cold in a huge upset victory. This now leaves Darren Till, the once named the second coming of Michael Bisping, the UFC’s English cash cow and the next big thing in MMA in a state of urgent need of a win. Till is now coming off 2 huge losses that now leaves his career in a state of limbo in an already stacked welterweight division where there is no room for complacency or error.
Whilst many a fan will not hold the title fight loss against him, this loss to Jorge Masvidal will leave a very deep cut in the hearts of many a fan and in the minds of many a critic as to whether he is all just hype. Therefore, this next fight is a crucial decision for Till as it could be a make or break moment for him if he ever wants to attempt another run at a UFC belt. So without further ado, let’s explore what may be next for Darren Till.
Firstly, I think that Till needs some well earned time off. He has headlined the last 2 cards he has fought on with the Woodley fight being in September of last year. So I would like to see Till take at least 6-9 months off before even announcing his next fight. He needs time to allow his body to heal up and reflect upon his last two performances and think of ways in which to improve his game whether that’s offensively or defensively. From watching his fights, Till’s tendencies to drop his hands and be predictable in the build-up to throwing his signature counter punches may make him more of an easier fighter to scout. As well as this, we all are aware that Till’s ground game whether its wrestling or BJJ needs work also. In addition to this, the time off will allow him to mentally breathe as the cycle of fighting can take a toll on fighters psychologically and the mental strain of needing to perform on fight night and in such high stakes bout could be wearing him down. Therefore, I hope to not see him in the cage anytime soon for starters.
After this, of course, the entire landscape of the Welterweight division could change. We’ve seen the belt change hands to Kamaru Usman and the introduction of Ben Askren to the weight class. After his loss to Masvidal, it is likely we may see Till drop down out of the top 5 and possibly the top 10 with Masvidal currently at 11th. Therefore, Till should look for an established name in the weight class so really get his record back on track and add some more stock to his name by beating someone the fans know and hold in high regard. Therefore, I see two names that fit this category nicely: Robbie Lawler and Demain Maia. Both these are hard fights for Till stylistically but in the hopes that Till benefits from his time off and works on his MMA skills, I see no reason why fighting these two legends of the game couldn’t potentially end up with The Gorilla getting his hand raised.
Another possibility could be the long-awaited and rumored move to Middleweight for Till. It is no secret that he is a big fighter in Welterweight and the pictures of him on the scales at the weigh-ins is not a pretty sight. We’ve seen countless fighters throughout the years benefit greatly from moving up a division as the weight cut will not hang over their heads nor will it be able to affect their performance as much which should be considered a factor when talking about Darren Till. From this, he would need an established name in the division. Someone in the top 10 and someone he could put on a good performance against. I put to you the name of Derek Brunson. He is currently ranked 8th in the division and holds a win over Lyoto Machida. His last 2 bouts had also been losses to Souza and Adesanya and I think Till vs Brunson would make a good fight night bout or even a fight to kick off the main card of a UFC PPV.
In conclusion, then, I am not the biggest Darren Till fan but as a fellow English mixed martial artist and MMA fan, I want to see him do well in the UFC and live p to his potential. It sucks to see fighters so young fall into a slump in their career and be overlooked and called overhyped when they haven’t even hit their prime. I hope Darren Till takes some time away from the sport of MMA, reflects upon his last 2 fights, heals up, hone his craft and then when he’s ready, return to the UFC bigger, better and stronger than ever!
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