Liverpool’s Darren Till not only has his sights set on the UFC welterweight title but also a future fight with the promotion’s lightweight champion Conor McGregor after becoming the first MMA fighter to sign with management company MTK Global.
MTK, who have until now dealt exclusively with boxing talent, announced their signing of the undefeated 24-year-old UFC star on Monday, with the company’s co-founder and advisor Matthew Macklin promising a big year for the surging welterweight in 2018.
“This is absolutely massive for us,” said Macklin, a former world title challenger in boxing’s middleweight division. “The whole world of MMA and the UFC in particular has grown so quickly over the past decade or so and we felt it was time MTK Global got involved. We wanted to make a statement and there is no doubt we have done that by signing Darren.”
“He is the hottest prospect at 170lbs right now and we are just looking forward to helping him push on and fulfil his incredible potential. 2018 will be a huge year for the Gorilla.”
2017 hasn’t exactly been a bad one for Till either. The Muay Thai specialist climbed all the way to number seven in the UFC welterweight rankings and stimulated talk about him being a potential future superstar with three big wins over the last 12 months, making up for lost ground after an inactive 2016. It was his latest win that really captured the imagination of MMA fans and the sport’s media though, as he ran through dangerous UFC veteran Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in just four minutes and twenty seconds at a Fight Night show in Gdansk.
Till still probably needs a couple of big wins in order to secure a title shot in a division that is absolutely teeming with deserving title challengers, but he is ready and willing to prove his own worthiness by battling any of the top contenders.
“I’m in this sport to be the champion,” Till was quoted as saying in an MTK press release. “I want to be a great champion and go down in history for it. Right now there are some big names out there for me. The likes of Demian Maia, Rafael dos Anjos, Robbie Lawler and Wonderboy [Stephen Thompson]. I don’t really care who the UFC put in front of me but ultimately I want that belt off Tyron Woodley.”
Till, however, has further aspirations beyond the welterweight crown.
In a recent interview with MMAFighting journalist Ariel Helwani, the Englishman said the he wants to surpass the aforementioned McGregor, who has claimed UFC gold at both featherweight and lightweight, by winning belts in three weight-classes.
But Till also wants to compete with McGregor in a more direct manner.
“There’s another fella I’d love to get inside the Octagon with,” said the fighter. “An Irish boy called McGregor who talks a lot. If Conor is ever stupid enough to come back up to 170, I’ll be waiting and only too happy to shut him up once and for all.”
According to their website, MTK Global currently have 130 boxers on their books. That stable includes big names like former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, former two-weight world titlist Carl Frampton and current WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders, as well as budding stars such as former Irish Olympians Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes.
But it was regular conversation with another of MTK’s biggest stars, a fellow Liverpudlian and former WBO super-welterweight champion, that led Till to chose the management outfit.
“I couldn’t be happier to have MTK Global manage me,” said Till. “Of course I’ve seen them sign up all these boxing superstars in recent years and I always thought it would be nice to be a part of that, albeit as an MMA fighter.”
“I’m good pals with Liam Smith and he is always telling me how good MTK look after their fighters and how they help them get the most out of their careers. Beefy fought Canelo in an American Football stadium in front of 50,000 so I know he’s not kidding me!”
It will be interesting to see if more MMA fighters follow in Till’s footsteps and sign with the company, especially those based in the U.K. and Ireland where the MTK have their strongest presence.