UFC London’s main-event headliner between Darren Till and Jorge Masvidal could well cause a shakeup in the welterweight division’s title picture.
Whether that comes in the form of the reintroduction of the Liverpudlian Till or a long-awaited final push by the veteran Masvidal, 170lbs will see a new entry into its already-packed championship discussion by Sunday morning.
Even on the matchup’s merits on-paper it’s a phenomenal headliner.
Both guys have quite a lot to prove this time around.
Jorge has always been seen as an elite-level fighter who has never quite been able to do it against the elite level.
With that being said, he has always shown up and been competitive in there no matter who it is he has faced.
Losses to Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia, Benson Henderson, Al Iaquinta, Gilbert Melendez, Lorenz Larkin, and Paul Daley all saw him beaten, yes, but even still, at times some of them showcased some of Masvidal’s best work.
As tough as nails and incredibly wiley no matter where the fight goes, you know you’ll be getting a fight when you sign to step in there with Gamebred.
Darren Till’s momentum hit a pretty hefty speedbump after he turned in a rather meek performance in his first UFC title shot at UFC 228.
Facing the former champion Tyron Woodley, Till barely threw a punch all fight before eating a hard right-hand counter in the second – something that set up the finish for The Chosen One by way of d’Arce choke.
And for a while, it seemed as though Till would finally make a move up to the middleweight due to his past problems with his weight-cut to 170lbs, it appears as though he is not through with the division just yet.
I don’t for one second see Till’s rise towards his eventual loss to Woodley as being as completely groundbreaking as some do.
His wins over a weathered Donald Cerrone and his chess-match with the gun-shy Stephen Thompson were impressive, yes, but in those fights he didn’t exactly show anything that should have led to him being the betting favourite that he was over the then-champ.
That’s not to say that he’s not an elite-level fighter, though, because he is.
And that, in my view, makes him exactly the level of fighter that we’ve seen Masvidal come up short against consistently against in the past.
But as we know, such things are not written into law.
So how do I see things playing out?
Well, Till will certainly need to show a bit more in the way of activity if he wants to make a case for another title-shot.
His cautious approach worked against Wonderboy because – as Tyron himself figured out – remaining patient is the only way to beat him.
Masvidal himself had very little success trying to fight his fight when faced with Thompson’s rangey kicks.
Till’s hesitance played right into Woodley’s hands when they fought and while he was never exactly a big output guy or combination puncher, I would imagine that he’ll be a lot more active in there with Jorge.
I can see the Englishman putting on the pressure from the get-go, forcing Masvidal up against the cage and popping him with some good shots, but not enough to put him out of there.
I would imagine things will fizzle out as the fight goes on but Till will do just enough to take it unanimously on the cards.
Prediction: Darren Till by unanimous decision – (49-46)
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena