Darren Till has made a surprising announcement regarding his relationship with UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya, ‘The Last Stylebender’.
Till is looking to reach the top of the middleweight division after back to back defeats as a welterweight. He missed out on the title in a 2018 bout with Tyrone Woodley and has since set his sights on Adesanya and his title belt, but has recently run into a war of words with the Nigerian, who called Till out for an interview he did in which he admitted he didn’t want to face Yoel Romero.
Whilst it seemed to be the first shot fired in a spell of hostilities, the Liverpool-born southpaw confessed he speaks to his possible adversary daily, claiming the Romero comment was marketing for a possible future bout.
“It’s all good,” he is reported as saying by MMA Fighting. “Of course, he’s keeping me close. We speak every day, me and him, we message every day. It’s all good. You know Israel knows that I’m not scared of Yoel. He’s just doing that. He knows what he’s doing, and so do I.
“Look at the way I’ve marketed this whole thing now with Yoel and everything. Genius, you know what I mean.”
Who Till will fight next is unclear, although UFC supremo Dana White has admitted it probably won’t be serious middleweight contender Jack Hermansson. That means Romero is the most likely candidate, coming off the back of three defeats. Paulo Costa and Robert Whittaker, two of those fighters who have defeated Romero, are also likely candidates before any possible showdown with Adesanya.
Till is looking to get himself back on track after back-to-back defeats prompted a step up to middleweight. Bwin Sports explains that Till was expected to overcome Jorge Masvidal at UFC London in April last year, but was beaten by knock out in round two, with the bout earning the accolade ‘Fight of the Night’. That came on the back of his defeat at the hands of Woodley in his previous bout.
He bounced back quickly with a split decision victory against Kelvin Gastelum in New York in November of last year on his return to middleweight which left him fifth in the middleweight rankings. That has let Adesanya firmly in his sights, with the 30-year-old currently holding the middleweight championship belt. He took the belt from Whittaker at UFC 243, following it up with a superb defense against Romero at UFC 248. He’s the target for Till right now and despite their friendship, any bout would be an eagerly anticipated. Adesanya is likely to face Paulo Costa first, a man who has vowed to make him cry after his uninspiring win against Romero.
UFC will be forced to take a hiatus now as the coronavirus panic puts paid to major sporting events, with UFC Fight Night London, Columbus, and Portland all cancelled and no events planned for the foreseeable future, meaning the war of words, manufactured or otherwise, is all fight fans will have to focus on.