Darren Till: The Road to Redemption
By Jordan Victor
Since the retirement of British MMA icon and UFC champion Michael Bisping, the UK has been crying out for someone to pass that torch onto. The fighter in waiting to receive that honour appeared to be the Liverpudlian sensation Darren Till.
Till looked a potential star after starching UFC veteran and former title contender Donald Cerrone in under a round, and then becoming one of only a very select few British fighters to main event a UFC card (alongside the likes of Bisping and Jimi Manuwa).
The event which took place in Liverpool (the first time in UFC history), saw Till outpoint striking phenom Stephen Thompson over the course of 5 rounds back in 2018.
After such a quick rise, the path to superstardom seemed clear for Till. An undefeated, charismatic and all action fighter publicly endorsed by UFC president Dana White. It seemed only a formality that Till would go on to replicate and perhaps even surpass the legacy of Michael Bisping.
That point seemingly proven at UFC 228, when Till was booked to face then UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, with the aim of becoming only the 2nd British champion in UFC history.
But the harsh reality of MMA soon settled in for UK MMA fans, as Till suffered his first career loss via submission. Although he suffered his first defeat, the Darren Till hype train was not derailed for long. Returning, to the gym only a few weeks later, itching to get his next fight booked.
As the months went on, it was known to most in the MMA community that Till was 100% certain to be main-eventing UFC London in March of 2019. But then came the frustration of not being able to find an opponent. Kamaru Usman had just beat Woodley for the strap, Colby Covington was sitting out in hope of facing the newly crowned champion and the likes of Ben Askren and Robbie Lawler were already scheduled to compete against each other.
With Till struggling to find a dance partner rumours began to circulate that Till may be pulled from the event altogether. But that was until one Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal stepped up.
Despite Masvidal’s known toughness the fans once again believed this fight to be a foregone conclusion. With many thinking how could a former lightweight beat a guy who could easily be fighting at middleweight.
But much like at UFC 228, Till suffered a shock defeat in the early rounds via knockout, despite a strong start in the fight.
Which now brings us to the present-day, in which Till the man many ordained as “the face of British MMA” is sitting on back-to-back losses. With no fight in the pipeline, and no rumours even circulating in the MMA circuits about a possible opponent for the future. The only recent news being Till’s arrest in Spain for minor criminal offences, for which he paid an undisclosed fine.
Having suffered these recent setbacks, it will likely be a long and arduous roadback for the young Liverpudlian on his road to redemption.
In terms of what this future could entail, there is still an array of opportunities available for the “Gorilla” when he returns.
A possible move up to middleweight – largely supported by the majority of the MMA world, who have very publicly paid witness to the Liverpudlian fighters gruelling weight cuts. With exciting and intriguing matchups available for Till, one I would not mind seeing personally is that of an Anderson Silva fight.
With Silva still proving he can hang with the most elite of strikers this would be a great return test for Till. Or even a return to welterweight, to reignite the feud with fellow UK fighter Leon Edwards – who has spoken to the media with great openness about wanting to fight Till. A Brummie vs a Scouse (both with huge followings) would certainly sell out all arenas in the UK.
But, whatever happens next many people will still tune in to watch the return of Darren Till, as his journey to redemption begins, and his quest to take the throne as the face of the British MMA continues.