MCGRATH: The rise and stumble of Darren Till

By David McGrath, MMATORCH contributor

Mar 16, 2019; London, UK; Jorge Masvidal (blue gloves) knocks down Darren Till (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Till is an easy guy to root for. He comes across as an intelligent guy, he seems sincere and most importantly this day an age: he is a great Twitter follow. It is really no wonder that the UFC hype machine got behind the young Brit. His fight style is fun too, a little too wild for my taste, but nobody will ever accuse Darren Till of being Ben Askren who he has traded barbs with constantly since the later arrived on the scene in the UFC.

That being said Darren Till’s last three fights go like this: very close decision in Liverpool over Stephen Thompson in which I scored the fight for Thompson. A 2nd round submission loss to the then-welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in which Till looked tentative on the feet. Even though Till, the Muay Thai practitioner was thought to have a decided advantage over Woodley in the striking department Till landed zero significant strikes on the former Missouri wrestler. When Woodley finally put Till on his back after a brutal right hand, things looked even worse for Till.

His ground game leaves a lot to be desired, as he looked absolutely amateurish in getting choked out by a D’arce that most white belts saw coming. This leads me to Saturday evening. Jorge Masvidal is obviously a very game opponent, I was worried for Till in the leadup to Saturday’s main event in London. Masvidal aside, Darren Till and his coaches need to get under the hood and check for a tune-up on their 25-year old phenom. Two straight finishes and three straight subpar performances worry me, and some of the mistakes I see Till really worry me.

First off, Darren Till has a hyperactive fight style, it was evident in round 1 against Masvidal, he comes out with the house of fire style and lands a beautiful left hand on Masvidal’s chin. Only one problem, Masvidal destroyed the narrative by not playing along and staying down. Darren Till much like Cody Garbrandt and Aaron Pico have nothing else for you once you take his best shot and get up. It was wild watching Till on Saturday, he fought desperately for the KO when it was completely unnecessary.

It would have been a better move to just stay on the outside and point with Masvidal. Masvidal to his credit said as much after the right and complimented Till’s no holds barred fight style. All that is great, if all your fighting for is for your opponents to respect you. Till has future world champion talent but he needs to fix this fatal flaw and choose his spots better. Till won’t last much longer if he keeps getting hit like he did Saturday.

I’m not jazzed about his fight IQ either, he missed a few easy looks against Woodley that lead to the choke and he got rocked by a hook that Masvidal hasn’t shown a ton. It’s his reckless abandon that endears him to most but really bothers me. You can do that on the regional and amateur scene. Your talent will outweigh everyone else and you’ll win, against the best in the world you will get embarrassed, as we’re seeing now with Till. I’m not ready to write Till off just yet though, Max Holloway, Robert Whittaker, and even Masvidal have taken losses early in their own careers and have fought back just fine.

Till at welterweight also worries me. He is a huge man and the weight cut has to factor in. When you’re that depleted there are so many factors working against you. Your brain and your organs are so void of water your stamina and your chin gets weak. If I am Darren Till’s team I go back to the drawing board and rework my in fight gameplans and also I do what most have been calling for: I move to 185 pounds.

The matchups are no easier at middleweight, the likes of Yoel Romero, Israel Adesanya, and Robert Whittaker await. I have to imagine a completely none depleted Till would fare better at middleweight, also the matchups maybe better for Till. Outside of Romero, there is not a lot of high-level wrestlers at 185. Unlike 170, the strikers like Whittaker and Adesanya rule the division. All of that is moot unless Till makes some changes, no more recklessness, your brain will thank you for it, and your career.


Let’s pump the brakes on Till being done at just 25 though. There is a precedent for young fighters taking lumps early and being just fine, only the great of the all-time greats took the world by storm and never stopped. Till can be that, let’s just hope he and his team figure that out.

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