UFC’s Darren Till: Public Enemy No. 1

Darren Till is coming off his biggest win in his young UFC career over Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, but somehow he’s managed to take two steps back in the process.

UFC Liverpool had the potential of being Darren Till’s coming out party, but instead it was mired in mishaps, miscalculations and it failed to meet expectations. Till was the hometown kid who missed weight and while he offered no excuses, the consensus was that the “Gorilla” had gotten what was coming to him. Till was fed one too many bananas and as a result entered the bout 3 1/2 pounds over the welterweight limit. The family emergency he experienced prior to the mishap didn’t lead to sympathy, instead fans teased him unforgivingly online.

In Till’s defense, it’s hard to be likable when you opponent is arguably one of the kindest human beings on the planet. “Wonderboy” Thompson was on the receiving end of heavy boos from the Liverpool crowd, but in the end he was presented sympathy and far more fan support for Till’s erroneous weight cut. Thompson gathered even more sympathy when he went on the MMA Hour and described how dangerous Till’s oblique kicks were during their affair.

Thompson expressed belief that Till was targeting his surgically repaired knee, which led many to question whether the 25-year-old was a dirty fighter. While there is nothing in the rulebook that says it’s illegal to throw oblique kicks, fighters on the receiving end haven’t shied away from criticizing the technique. Till’s explanation during his MMA Hour interview didn’t necessarily help matters, and the more he speaks, the more his fan support worsens.

Till called his win over Thompson, “one of the best fights ever,” which drew a scoff from fans. The fight was more of a staring contest until he managed to drop Thompson in the final round, but failed to capitalize soon after. Prior to the bout, Till kept talking about his belief and how strongly he felt he would finish Thompson, but instead he like many others got sucked into Thompson’s game. 

Till spent a lot of energy trying to land the Thompson sweepstakes for months now and while the judges favored his efforts over Thompson, fans felt shortchanged and rightfully so. While it takes two to tango, Thompson’s heavy countering style has been established and expected. Till is the guy who finished Donald Cerrone in his last outing and was out to prove he can do the same to “Wonderboy.”  Sadly, his loud and unapologetic post fight speech didn’t match his performance.

Shortly after the win, a video was posted of Till’s strenuous weight cut, which included the rising welterweight suffering some degree of vision loss. The video drew more ire as fans criticized Till for putting his body through hell all for an advantage in size on fight night.

The graphic video managed to top the highly criticized sparring video that Till posted a few weeks ahead of his fight. Till’s response was that fans didn’t know what they were talking about, meanwhile a number of fighters agreed that the young man’s sparring methods were at the very least, questionable.

Darren Till would tell you himself that he doesn’t deserve a title shot after defeating the #1 welterweight according to the UFC rankings. It seems the UFC feels the same way as they shifted Rafael dos Anjos to the #1 spot in the rankings and placed Till behind him. Fans were once again very critical of Till moving up so high even after missing weight, but a win is a win and Thompson opted to fight when he didn’t have to.

Till’s next opponent has yet to be determined, but there’s a great chance we’ll begin to see fans continue to turn on him and search for another mishap or flaw rather than enjoy watching him fight. The pride of Liverpool is slowly but surely filling the role of the English MMA villain that was previously held by Michael Bisping. There’s no fighting it, he should simply embrace it and carry on.

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