Darren Till suffered a brutal loss at the hands of Jorge Masvidal in the UFC London headliner on Saturday night and now, his future at 170lb is as unclear as ever.
And it truly was as ugly a KO as you’re likely to see this year.
Masvidal peppered the chin of Till with increasing regularity as the fight went on – something that no doubt increased the eventual impact of the finishing combo he landed.
It wasn’t the worst performance you’ll ever see in a main-event loss but all things considered, Darren Till will have to take a very long look at himself after suffering his second straight defeat in devastating fashion.
Past issues with his cut down to 170lbs may or may not have factored into his defeat at the hands of Gamebred but even still, it has been said for quite some time that a move to 185lbs would suit his long and tall frame well enough to allow him to be similarly competitive at the highest level.
So with that in mind, here are five guys we would love to see Till take on if he does, in fact, make the move happen.
Tavares could well be the most likely of the options listed here. As one of the division’s underrated talents, his loss to interim-title challenger Israel Adesanya stands as the only setback in his last five outings.
A gritty competitor who comes in there with that typical Hawaiian intensity, a showdown against Till would allow us all to really gauge exactly how suited the Englishman is to the middleweight roster on a physical level.
If he could overcome the challenge Tavares would present, there would be very little doubt that he would be ready for a top-10 opponent.
His UFC record may give off the impression that this would be an easy fight for Till at this weight but make no mistake, Hall still stands as a strong test for those looking to make their mark at 185lbs.
Anyone who has seen Uriah fight knows exactly how dynamic and creative he can be in there, boasting several highlight-reel KO victories – most recently scoring an astonishing comeback victory over Bevon Lewis at UFC 232.
And while he hasn’t lived up to the frankly massive hype he earned for himself upon leaving The Ultimate Fighter house all those years ago, if you can beat him decisively, you’re well within your rights to call for one of those upper-echelon guys.
This one could well be impeded by Rockhold’s desire to move up to 205lbs but as of right now, we haven’t seen too much in the way of signs that would give us an indication of when that might happen.
I do believe that the former-champion would be more inclined to hold off on his plans if a big name like Darren Till were to be thrown in his way.
Out of all of the fighters listed here, Rockhold would certainly offer the most varied threat to Till – with his powerful kicks and impeccable grappling let down only by his somewhat questionable striking defense and ability to take a shot.
It’s a tough matchup but definitely a winnable one if Darren’s power can translate well to his new home.
In many ways, I believe that Weidman would pose a lot more of a threat to Till than most realise.
Sure, he has tasted defeat by way of brutal strikes on four occasions in his last five but his size and outstanding abilities in the grappling department could well be the perfect foil to Till’s tendency to fire with low volume.
If the promotion are looking to get one of the rising stars on a fast-track to the 185lb title-picture, Weidman would be good pick but I believe there would be a huge disparity on the ground if the fight gets there.
Not that Till is bad by any means but if the comparitively huge Weidman was able to capitalise and get the takedown, he could make his adversary feel every pound of extra weight he holds over him.
I’ll be honest, this one is very unlikely due to Shahbazyan and Till’s shared status as prospects but I can’t help but feel as though it would be a lot of fun.
The 21-year-old Shahbazyan is unbeaten at 9-0 and managed to completely run through the tricky Charles Byrd at UFC 232 in 38 seconds – bringing his promotional record to 2-0.
He was unearthed on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and has only seen the judges’ scorecards on one occasion – besting Darren Stewart in his UFC debut.
Prospect-vs-prospect fights rarely get signed at this level unless absolutely necessary but a showdown with Darren Till would be nothing less than spectacular.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena