The main event of UFC Liverpool promised a chess match of a striking contest between two of the most accomplished and dangerous talents in the hugely stacked welterweight division. It surely delivered on it’s tension filled five round promise (albeit short of clear cut offensive action.)
Ultimately, it was a lacklustre 25 minute clash, with an already under scrutiny Darren Till claiming a split decision win over Stephen Thompson following a botched weight cut on Saturday morning. Hometown hero Till, stepped onto the scales weighing a massive 174 pounds, until it was revealed his pregnant partner was in hospital suffering complications with her pregnancy. Adding to the growing list of weigh in headaches in 2018, Thompson and his team negotiated a deal that would see the main event go ahead, forcing Till to hand over 30% of his fight purse and upon midday of fight day, had to successfully weigh in no more than 188lbs.
So with new terms reached, the main event at the Echo Arena was back on.
An almost point fighting, hugely composed display from both men filled the 25 minute period, with ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson’s impeccable footwork and Karate blitz counter striking forcing the heavy handed Till to conserve his energy and carefully throw that clubbing left hand. A shot he landed expertly in the final round, dropping Thompson for a brief moment. A split decision was questionably awarded to Till, with Thompson doing enough to win 3 of the 5 rounds in my opinion.
So what’s next for Darren Till?
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington loser: I certainly don’t believe Darren Till deserves a title tilt just yet, especially with his weight cut fiasco and the controversial nature surrounding his decision victory.
In just over two weeks time, a legitimate challenger for Tyron Woodley will be established in Chicago at UFC 225, as former lightweight trail blazer Rafael dos Anjos meets brash trash talker Colby Covington for the interim 170lbs championship. The perfect match up to test Till in my opinion, would see him challenge the loser of the RDA and Covington fight.
It had be said, “The Gorilla” is yet to be tasked with dealing with a supreme and superior wrestler, something dos Anjos and maybe more so, Amercian Top Team’s Colby Covington represents. I’m currently leaning towards dos Anjos to stop Colby, subsequently taking the interim crown.
So why not pit Till versus the loud mouth Oregan State All-American?..
Kamaru Usman: It remains to be seen if Till will leapfrog Stephen Thompson and claim the #1 spot at welterweight. This is particularly due to his failure to make the 170lbs limit, so if he moves a few considerable ranks, face him off against fellow up and coming talent Kamaru Usman.
With head honcho Dana White confirming that Till will in fact fight in Vegas in his next trip to the octagon, a PPV spot containing both future champions in my opinion, will further bolster their recognition in a heated welterweight division. Usman is a cerebral wrestler who crept past Demian Maia at UFC Chile recently, but his “safety first” approach replicates champion Tyron Woodley to a certain extent. This would afford Till another opportunity to be tested against a high level wrestler.
Robbie Lawler: If this dream matchup gets made and if Till emerged with the win, it almost represents a certain passing of a welterweight torch (even more so than RDA’s demolition of “Ruthless” Robbie). Dos Anjos mauled Lawler unquestionably, ensuring he is seen as a certified elite mixed-martial artist who has reinvigorated his career since his venture up a division.
Till is still a huge prospect but a stoppage win in particular over the blood and guts veteran that is Robbie Lawler represents arguably the biggest feather in his cap to date.