After a tumultuous affair at the weigh ins, Darren Till gained victory over #1 welterweight contender Stephen Thompson on Sunday night.
Having seen their team come up short in the Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday night, the city of Liverpool finally had something to shout about as hometown hero Darren Till (17-0-1) was victorious in front of a sold out Echo Arena in Liverpool.
Weight Off His Mind
As many may be aware by now, the UFC has adopted an early weigh in procedure for fighters before their events. Initially it was designed to help fighters get more time to properly hydrate before the fight but it has seen many fighters miss weight due to the body being unable to shift those last few pounds first thing in the morning.
It was a tense moment as MMA media gathered to see the fighters weigh in. With only 10 minutes to go before the scheduled window for weigh ins was due to close, Till had yet to show up.
Thompson had made the 170lbs limit earlier that morning but it emerged that his opponent had a family emergency to deal with and having been allocated an extra hour with which to hit the scales, the Liverpudlian missed weight by 3.5lbs.
After a back and forth morning of management teams trying to come up with terms to make the fight happen, Thompson’s team, the UFC and Darren Till agreed that he would:
1- Forfeit 30% of his purse to “Wonderboy”
2- Agree to a second weigh in on the day of the fight and be no more than 188lbs before a scheduled time.
Having fulfilled this criteria, the fight was on and Till was ready for battle.
In truth, unless you’re a hardcore fight fan, you’re probably
the type of person that was enthralled by this fight from start to finish.
For the rest of you, it’s likely a fight you won’t come back to in a hurry.
However, you have to understand that this was one of the most closely contested battle of wits between two of the welterweight division’s most technical strikers. Any mistake was going to be costly but the anticipation of anything could happen was exciting to watch.
Both men were cautious early on and Thompson used his elusive footwork early on to dodge Till’s attacks. It was a very different approach from what we’re used to seeing from Till who usually likes to press hard and fast and load bombs. Though, he was pushing forward, he was being kept at bay by Thompson looking to counter him at any opportunity that presented itself to him.
Till continued the fight by trying to put Thompson on the back foot and made the American pay with some nice crunching leg kicks to his lead leg.
There was certainly plenty of mutual respect between the two but in a high stakes fight, respect needs to take a back seat. Thompson had some nice success with some nice double jabs and unloaded a stiff left hand to Till’s face in the third that shook the Liverpudlian somewhat despite the constant head shakes he was displaying which almost certainly meant that he was hurting a little bit.
The one and only clean punch landed in the fifth round when Darren Till backed Thompson up against the cage and landed a hard left hook that landed behind the ear of the American who went crashing to the canvas.
Till attempted a barrage of ground and pound but Thompson was quick to recover, grabbed a leg and used it to get to his feet and in a desperate attempt to even up the round, he attempted a takedown but Till was able to recover very quickly and it didn’t really trouble him at all.
It was a gruelling 25 minutes for both men and it’s a shame that we didn’t witness the explosive all action fight it was billed as but it was a fascinating watch right through.
The fight really could have gone either way. It really was that close with the only clear cut round going to Darren Till in the fifth after that clean knockdown of Thompson.
The judges scorecards read; (49-46, 49-46, 48-47)
The result was met with some raised eyebrows but as far as I am concerned, I’m ok with the result. It was a razor close fight.
What I do take umbrage with is the two 49-46 cards scored by Andy Roberts and Paul Sutherland. It’s hard to see how anybody could score 4 rounds so clearly for Till unless they were basing it off “hometown advantage”.
Both fighters were landing shots on each other for sure but it would be interesting to get the thoughts on the criteria behind these scorecards.
It seems that questionable judging is here to stay for a good while unfortunately.
What’s Next for Till?
Speaking in the post-fight press conference, Till was asked if he would like to fight for the title next having knocked off the #1 contender.
Till was candid in his response saying that he believes that because he missed weight that Thompson should still be next in line. Of course, Thompson is unlikely to receive the next shot but what is clear is that both fighters have their eye on the matchup between Rafael Dos Anjos vs Colby Covington.
Either opponent would be a great matchup for Till as he looks to further his UFC career.