Darren Till is one of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster. The scouse born striker is scheduled to return against Jack Hermansson in London on July 23rd. We take a look back at some of the best that “The Gorilla” has produced inside the cage.
What a lot of fans don’t know is just how hard he worked to get to the UFC. Training from a young age, Till ended up falling in and out of homelessness, fighting and the usual violent trappings of the UK’s most economically deprived areas. He was as bold as a youngster as he is now, and an altercation with a group left Till nursing a stab wound that nearly proved to be fatal.
Team Kaobon coach Colin Heron stepped in. He put in the effort that not many coaches would for a young, know it all troublemaker. Contacting Astra Fight Team in Brazil due to a former coach at Kaobon working there, he set up the chance at a distraction-free life for the fighter.
Although having no understanding of Portuguese, Darren Till gained respect through dedication and presumably his naturally likeable character. I mean 80% of that fans probably have zero clue what the excitable scouser is saying when he is bursting with energy, but they love him no less for it.
He very quickly gained the skills that perhaps he couldn’t pick up on with the Merseyside distractions. As well as this, his frame filled out. Perhaps the best demonstration of his eagerness to improve is how well the scouser now speaks the native tongue of Brazil.
Darren Till Makes Dynamic Debut
He is also willing to put his ego aside, as he has done on countless occasions to reassess and reset, such as is seen with his Khamzat Chimaev link up. We can only wonder if Sweden can reignite him the same way Brazil did all those years ago.
Here are five times Darren Till showed us why he is an elite fighter, who at his best can outclass even the classiest of strikers.
Till made his UFC debut following a long hard road through the Brazillian pro circuit.
While perhaps not the ideal situation, Darren Till was given a call on nine days’ notice to make his UFC debut, against Wendell de Oliveira. For the uneducated, it looked like an Englishman with no UFC experience flying to Brazil to be beaten up by a Brazillian and keep the audience happy. In reality, Till had fought 12 times in the country and had won each of them.
Till was the underdog, but after showing he wasn’t an easy guy t take down, he asserted himself. Following a trip by Till he postured up and knocked Oliviera out cold with elbows.
Dublin Draw With Dalby
While a Till win may have been a more obvious choice, this was his first Fight of the Night honour in the UFC.
Nicholas Dalby was a Danish prospect with a point to prove. The bout was a war, with Till displaying hard, crisp striking and The Dane keeping a high output rate. At the end of the first round, the Scouser dropped Dalby with an uppercut, capping a fun start to the bout.
The second round also appeared to be in Till’s favour. Other than a brief trip takedown against the cage for Dalby, the Englishman controlled the round, using counters and distance control to keep the fight at his pace. Dalby knew he needed something emphatic to win in the third, and he tried his hardest to get it. Pressuring Till instantly with a head kick and punches, the Dane was not leaving anything in his gas tank. A barrage of strikes had Till looking hurt and he ended up on his back courtesy of a Dalby double leg. After being battered and nearly stopped with ground and pound, Till got back to his feet and stayed in there for the final minute.
It was rendered a draw on the judge’s scorecards, but neither man looked disappointed. Whilst not a win, it showed how good Till was when in full flow, and how tough he could be when he needed to.
Darren Till Announces Arrival
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is a name that most MMA fans know. Just a year before he had been on a four-fight win streak. Since debuting at welterweight, Cerrone had finished four in a row also before running into Jorge Masvidal. Till meanwhile had fought two unranked opponents to a decision since 2015.
Cerrone was the favourite, and Till was seen as someone who would stand with “Cowboy” and give him openings to add another clip to his highlight reel. Darren Till had other ideas.
It felt like the Scouser rose to and above the occasion. Marching through the American, he was simply too big, too strong and too good. The whole MMA world took notice like they never had before, and put “The Gorilla” in a different jungle entirely.
The UFC had set a date to bring its show to Liverpool and there was only one man to headline. Darren Till was now a name people knew, and his opponent, “Wonderboy” proved it.
A tricky striker who was seen by many, on a technical level, as one of the very best strikers in the UFC. The bout was seen as controversial for some as Till took the decision victory, setting him to the front of the cue in regards to a title shot.
Till did outstrike Thompson in three of the rounds, as well as scoring the bouts only knockdown. It showed Till as a serious contender and not just a one-trick pony.
Moving On Up
It is no secret that Darren Till struggled to make 170. After a loss to then-champion Tyron Woodley and soon to be contender Jorge Masvidal, Middleweight was now his chosen path. He would take on Kelvin Gastelum, a man who not only knocked out Michael Bisping in his last ever fight but who in his last fight nearly beat the champion Isreal Adesanya in a fight of the year effort. Easy Enough then.
Many thought Till should have been given an easier match-up, with the media even questioning Dana White about it. Till had to say this on the matter.
“Dana tried to convince me not to take the fight and I was like, ‘Why?’” he said. “So if it’s another loss, which it won’t be, so what?”
His attitude was endearing him further to the fans, and as a heavy underdog, he showed he is elite regardless of the 15lb weight gain. Riding a two-fight loss streak against a truly top tier middleweight showed that even with his back against the wall, Till is not a quitter.
What is your favourite Till moment?
Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images