UFC Liverpool: Three Years Ago Today
By James Lee
Today marks the third anniversary of UFC Liverpool, as Merseyside played host to combat’s entertainment pinnacle for the first, and only, time in history.
As Liverpool faltered in the Champions League final a night prior, unarmed combat picked up the area’s spirits. Surprisingly, the largest mixed martial arts promotion had yet to reach the fighting city at the time, but that drastically changed on the bright May afternoon.
Scouse fighters Terry Etim, Paul Sass and Paul Kelly all had extended runs in the UFC, however, none forced a hometown appearance and it took the growing stardom of Darren Till to do so after his breakout demolition of Donald Cerrone in Gdansk not only attracted the attention of the martial arts community, but most importantly, the summit of the UFC brass.
Acquiring a predecessor to Michael Bisping’s United Kingdom throne was not something the UFC perhaps foresaw formulating that quickly, but one they gladfully accepted immediately.
As expected, the demand for the event was high. Tickets sold out within minutes; the quickest in Echo Arena history, and as Dublin got behind a rising Conor McGregor in 2014, Liverpool replicated that support for their rising star.
At the time of the event, it was arguably the most anticipated non-pay-per-view card of the year, and the eventual climax to the event made for a special night in the history of English combat.
Oddly, the global reach that the UFC has worked to their disadvantage at times. The sheer fragmented nature of the fan base makes specific events based solely around an individual in their home country a rarity. Liverpool was fortunate to witness one three years ago on the Mersey docks, however.
As Till walked to the cage to the soft, but substantial sound of Neil Diamond, the joy and celebratory manner in seeing the sport’s premier promotion grace the city was evident.
The fight was not as electric as the crowd, with both men participating in a tense striking match to intrigue the most intricate combat minds. A fifth-round knockdown by Till provided a spell of excitement, as his continuing forward pressure was ultimately favoured by all three judges.
Crucially, the contest showcased Till’s composed and unphased manner against the sport’s most collected striker. A career moment as such is priceless for legacy, so as he continues his journey towards acquiring gold, UFC Liverpool widened the path for him to become the most successful Englishman in the short, but renowned, history of the sport.