UFC London’s headliner will see welterweights Darren Till and Jorge Masvidal collide over five-rounds in a matchup that should be an absolute cracker.
With Colby Covington supposedly the next in line for a crack at Kamaru Usman’s newly-won title, the winner of this matchup could well find himself on a collision course with the champion – whoever that may be – before too long.
Jorge Masvidal in three words: Durable, Gritty, Experienced
Notable wins: Yves Edwards, Michael Chiesa, Jake Ellenberger, Donald Cerrone
Notable losses: Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia, Benson Henderson, Al Iaquinta, Gilbert Melendez, Lorenz Larkin, Paul Daley
Highest high: Masvidal was able to bring the surging momentum of the seemingly rejuvenated Cowboy Cerrone to a crashing halt by thoroughly beating him down at UFC Denver in 2017. Upon finding his range, Jorge could well have sealed the TKO win in the opening-round under different circumstances but managed to do so early in the second with a vicious barrage to announce himself at 170lbs in the UFC.
Lowest low: Maybe not the most devastating of defeats but being completely shut down by Stephen Thompson at UFC 217 saw Gamebred almost relegated to a spectator’s position as Wonderboy picked him apart for three rounds.
Recent form: Masvidal’s skillset and toughness has never been in doubt. But recent losses to Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia have underlined the fact that he always comes up short against elite-level competition. Till is a fighter who certainly fits into that upper-echelon as far as Gamebred’s past opponents are concerned. Whether he can avoid going 0-3 in his last three remains to be seen.
Darren Till in three words: Rangey, Technical, Patient
Notable wins: Donald Cerrone, Stephen Thompson
Notable losses: Tyron Woodley
Highest high: Despite edging out the former title-challenger Thompson in a chess-match in front of a crowd of his hometown crowd, Till’s best moment was undoubtedly his destruction of Donald Cerrone in Gdansk, Poland. Coming into that fight as a virtual unknown to the masses, he was well and truly able to announce himself on the global scene by completely running through the legend in his first headliner.
Lowest low: Losing in his first title-shot in brutal fashion to Tyron Woodley certainly has acted as something of a speed-bump for Till’s hype-train leading up to then. He barely threw a strike before being beaten down badly by The Chosen One on his way to a second-round submission defeat.
Recent form: UFC 228’s destruction at the hands of the former champion Woodley could well have sent Till packing to the middleweight division after his struggles with making the 170lb limit became public knowledge. All things considered, though, Till’s run towards the title was impressive – although not nearly as incredible as many made it out to be at the time.
What’s at stake?
One would have to imagine that a ticket to the front-row of the 170lb title picture is on offer for the winner. They might not take on the champ right away but a potentially huge matchup with promotional newcomer Ben Askren could be in store for whoever gets their hand raised on Saturday night. Askren has let it be known that he plans on attending UFC London – so who knows, we may well see him confront the winner in the hopes of stirring up a second UFC outing over the summer.
For Till, you’d have to imagine that a loss would bring his time at 170lbs to an end. Not that that would a bad thing whatsoever for the health of the middleweight division but the apparently rough weight-cut undertaken by the Liverpudlian would not be worth again it if he ended up with back-to-back defeats.
Masvidal, at 34, would likely see his welterweight title ambitions finish abruptly. Ranked #11 at present, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll ever crack the code and begin to rack up the top-calibre wins necessary to scale to the top if he can’t do it now. Whether a return to lightweight would be on the table is unclear.
Ben Askren seems to be keen on getting himself a shot at the winner. With that being said, UFC president Dana White made it clear that he wants to see a rematch between Ben and his UFC 235 opponent Robbie Lawler.
If not Askren, the victor would certainly be justified, to some degree, if they decided to sit out and wait for the winner of Usman vs. Covington.
Although a matchup with Tyron Woodley would be worthwhile for either man.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena