Pro Record: 16-0-1
Association: Astra Fight Team/ Team Kaobon
Weight Class: Welterweight
In this week’s edition of Fighter of the Week, we take a look at Darren Till who is coming off a huge TKO win over Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 118. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this performance silenced the critics questioning whether or not Till should have been in the Main Event. Let’s face it… the critique was probably justified. Till was just 3-0-1 in the UFC before this fight, getting a majority draw and going to two decisions in his last three fights. In his fight with Jessin Ayari at UFC Fight Night 109, he missed weight. Don’t get me wrong, his decision wins were striking clinics and you have to give it to both Ayari and Bojan Velickovic for their toughness and just surviving in those fights considering the trouble both were in. A win over a fighter like Cerrone however, especially in that fashion, will inevitably silence the doubters and move Till up drastically in the Welterweight rankings and big fight conversations.
Till is an Englishman from Liverpool England. After dropping out of school he said he started fighting and training as a teenager to be able to “beat people up”. It’s implied he means without getting into trouble. Till, at the age of 12, started his Muay Thai and kickboxing training in his hometown of Liverpool at Team Kaobon. Team Kaobon is one of the few MMA gyms in England and one of the better-respected gyms outside of the US, producing UFC fighters like Terry Etim, Paul Kelly, and Paul Taylor (to name a few). At the age of 15, Till would turn professional in Muay Thai. Before Till had his 19th birthday, he would compile a 3-0 amateur record in MMA with two first-round finishes. He would also become a K-1 European Champion.
In August of 2012 Till would get into a fight at a party and was stabbed twice in the back missing his main artery by one inch. After the incident Till, at the request of his coach, would leave England for Astra Fight Team in Brazil to start training and fighting. His goal was to be back in England in six months, but he stayed in Brazil for over three and a half years. Astra Fight Team is notorious for padding their fighters records, hence Till fighting 8 times in 2013 alone, to begin his MMA career. Despite that, clearly, the team can produce talent as well. Till would go 12-0 with 10 finishes before joining the UFC.
His first UFC fight would come against Wendell de Oliveira at UFC Fight Night 67 and would end by KO (elbows) in the second round. In his second UFC fight at UFC Fight Night 76, he would face Nicolas Dalby in one of the more entertaining and surprising comebacks as you’ll see. It was all Till early, as he came seconds away from finishing the fight in the first round. It was much of the same in the second round and despite the dominance, Dalby would have an improbable comeback in the third round pouring the pressure on a gassed Till and taking him down. Thanks to Dalby’s late heroics the fight would result in a majority draw and would earn both fighters a “Fight of the Night” bonus.
Facing injuries and personal issues, Till would leave Brazil and go back to fight out of Team Kaobon in his hometown of Liverpool full time in late 2016. Till would get back to his winning ways and show his advanced striking against both Jessin Ayari and Bojan Velickovic winning both fights by lopsided unanimous decisions. After his win over Velckovic, Till was celebrating in a bar and having drinks with UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby. Shelby told Till they were struggling to find the Main Event in Gdansk and asked Till if he’d be interested. “Of course, I’ll fight anyone to get that fight on” was Till’s response and within a couple of days, the fight with Cerrone was set. Till looked incredibly relaxed in his fight with Cerrone, stuffing a takedown early and landing jabs at will. Even when Cerrone was able to get him to the mat, Till was right back up and able to escape. From there it was back and forth with Cerrone landing a few kicks but Till getting the better of the exchanges. Two left hands later and Cerrone was in trouble and Till knew it. He pounced on Cerrone and landed an onslaught of punches to end the fight by TKO in dramatic fashion.
Till does not lack confidence, that’s for certain. When asked by the UFC who his heroes are he said “Myself”. So what’s next for him? If you ask our own Keith Shillan (http://themmatakeover.com/whos-next-ufc-gdansk/), it’s the Thompson-Masvidal winner. While Keith and I don’t agree on much, I agree with him here. Till is young, talented, and promotable, specifically overseas. Fun Fact: Till has never had a professional fight in the US. The Cerrone win moved him miles up the rankings and although fans want to see the Mike Perry matchup it just doesn’t make sense, although the hype train and jaw jacking would be insane with these two. As Keith put it, beating Perry sets up a fight with Cerrone, not the other way around. Besides, Perry still has his hands full coming up with Santiago Ponzinnibbio. Whoever is next, Till has clearly stamped his mark on the division and is probably just one win away from a title shot.