Despite the absence of star man Conor McGregor, 2017 was an amazing year for mixed martial arts. Many fighters stood out but none more so than Darren Till. The English welterweight won three fights on the spin and his name is now being mentioned in the same bracket as the champion, Tyron Woodley.
If Till continues his current form, there is no reason why he couldn’t end 2018 with gold wrapped around his waist. But before that happens, let’s take a look at his career prior to his recent success.
Till began training in Muay Thai at the age of 12 and turned pro when he was just 15. He then started to compete in kickboxing where he went undefeated in 44 fights; winning 33 by knockout. At the age of 19 he was socialising at a party when he was involved in an altercation that resulted in him being stabbed twice in the back and nearly cost him his life.
His coach at the time urged him to go to Brazil to continue his training as he felt Till’s hometown of Liverpool was far too dangerous for the young up-and-coming fighter.
Soon after, the 25-year-old took his coach’s advice and once settled in South America he took some amateur MMA fights, going on to win all three before turning professional in 2013. Till competed in eight fights in his first year as a pro; winning six by knockout, one by submission and one by decision. He then fought another four times over the next nine months to improve his overall record to 12-0 and do enough for the UFC to come calling.
In his UFC debut in Brazil, he took on Wendell de Oliveria on just nine days’ notice. Having only fought three weeks previously, Till took his time getting into his rhythm before finding the finish via elbows early in the second round.
Five months later and he was back in action for his first MMA fight on European soil when he took on Nicolas Dalby at UFC Fight Night 76 in Dublin. Both competitors fought their hearts out and the judges ruled a majority draw with both men then picking up a Fight of the Night bonus.
Till was ruled out for the entirety of 2016 due to injury and didn’t make his comeback until May 2017 when he faced Jessin Ayari. The Liverpudlian missed weight for the contest, going on to blame his inactivity as the factor for a poor weight cut. Despite the weight issue, he went on to outpoint Ayari and claim a unanimous decision victory. ‘The Gorilla’s’ next outing was against Bojan Velickovic; a fight in which he again won by unanimous decision.
Just over a month later and Till was back in action, headlining his first show against UFC veteran Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. This was set to be his toughest fight to date and would be an acid test to see how much potential the young Scouser fighter had. He rose to the occasion and in front of a packed Polish crowd he finished Cerrone late into the first round in emphatic fashion.
Till’s record now stands at 16-0-1. He’s undefeated in MMA both professionally and in the amateur ranks and undefeated in kickboxing. At only 25 and still learning, he has an abundance of talent and ability. Along with his confidence, he could be a star in the making.
The welterweight division is one of the most stacked in the UFC, with numerous title contenders but if Till continues his clear domination of opponents he could be on the cusp of a title shot before 2018 draws to a close.