A potential title-eliminator at middleweight is targeted to headline a UFC ‘Fight Island’ event on July 25th. – as former division champion, Robert ‘The Reaper’ Whittaker, and one-time welterweight title chaser, Darren ‘The Gorilla’ Till lock horns. The pair were tentatively expected to meet at a UFC Fight Night Dublin event in August, however, the status of the event is currently in jeopardy, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In his first outing since his middleweight unification title loss to Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya – Whittaker tackles, Liverpool’s Till, with the two involved in some entertaining social media exchanges recently. Making his divisional debut at UFC 244 in November at Madison Square Garden – Till outpointed one-time interim title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum over three rounds, returning to the winner’s enclosure in the process. News of the pairing was initially reported by Combate reporter, Raphael Marinho.
South Auckland born striker, Whittaker – recently explained in detail how he was suffering from burnout as a result of a hectic training regiment. The 29-year-old dropped the title to the aforementioned Adesanya in a momentous UFC 242 event in October, and afterwards, was scheduled to take on streaking challenger, Jared Cannonier at UFC 248 in March, but withdrew from the pairing due to the above-noted burnout.
The blemish to Adesanya marked Whittaker’s first defeat since a move to 185-pounds in November of 2014. In highlight wins on his way to the title, Whittaker finished both Derek Brunson, and Jacaré Souza with strikes. In two of the most memorable middleweight meetings in history – Whittaker twice clashed with Cuban freestyle-wrestler, Yoel Romero – taking first, the interim title, before successfully defending the undisputed crown in a razor-thin rematch.
Enduring some mental woes of his own, popular Muay Thai ace Till – explained how he was somewhat gun shy ahead of his co-headliner with Gastelum, following a string of two losses. The first, a welterweight title challenge loss to Tyron Woodley, before a crushing second-round knockout at the hands of a resurgent, Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal at UFC Fight Night London last March.
In notable career victories, Till has dispatched future Hall of Famer, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, two-time welterweight title challenger, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, and slick boxer, the aforementioned, Gastelum.