At UFC Fight Night 67, British born fighter Darren Till instantly catapulted himself into the UFC Welterweight’s to watch list following his dominant stoppage of Wendell de Oliveira Marques at UFC Fight Night 67.
Following a back and forth first round, Till was able to take control of the fight in the second and needed just one minute thirty seven seconds to stop Wendell by knockout with some vicious elbows from the guard. Although it was his promotional debut, Till was confident that he didn’t see the fight playing out any other way than with his hand raised.
“It was strange how knockout came about. I wanted to stay away from the ground as we knew he was a good strong black belt. We had planned that he would come out all guns blazing which he did.”
“My coach had said to stay calm in the first round and look to get a few shots off. The strategy was to lose the fight round and then in the second go and get the finish. We knew he would get tired in the second as he is a big muscular guy.”
One thing which perhaps is a bigger accomplishment than stopping Wendell in two rounds was the fact that Till took his UFC debut on just 10 days notice. For most fighters the thought of taking a fight in the UFC on 10 days notice would be far too daunting to accept, however for Till there was not a moment of doubt.
“It did actually help getting the call late. Because you know anyone who has contract with the UFC has months to prepare and get nervous and over think the whole thing. I got the call and all I thought about was cutting the weight and fighting.”
“In terms of flying under the radar this definitely helped aswell. I went in to the fight as the underdog against a guy who was the number one guy in Brazil for about five years running and beat him. People don’t understand my level; I know I am a high level fighter.”
Whilst Till had a quick call up to the UFC, the Welterweight would have taken the opportunity to fight for the World’s largest MMA promotion regardless of circumstance.
“I really would have taken on the fight under any circumstance. When I got the call I was 90kilos (198lbs) but I never get above that weight. So when the call came in my coach said that’s fine and we knew I would cut 13kilos (28lbs) in 10 days.”
“I was coming off a win (Till defeated Lacerate Costa e Silva at MMA Sanda Combat 2 on 9th May) and my confidence was high. I picked up a little injury after knocking out my opponent with my left hand and Wendell was aware of that. Perhaps that worked against him. He knew I was game for this fight.”
There have been a number of fighters struggling to score decision wins against Brazilian fighters in Brazil in recent months, so did this play any part of Till’s strategy going into his debut?
“I don’t have amazing knockout power but I can stop fights when I want to. I am a clever and intelligent fighter. I can make opponents look so silly standing that I don’t give judges a chance to score it any other way.”
“It’s never really entered my mind but is reality anywhere you go. Not just in Brazil. The controversy thing never comes into my mind. I go in looking to knock people out. I know that’s what the UFC and crowd are looking for.”
One factor which did favour Till in taking the fight on short notice was that it took place in his backyard. Till moved out to Brazil in 2012 in what was only meant to be a six month trip, but after meeting his wife and becoming a father hasn’t looked back.
Having had the chance to speak with Till it’s clear that one of the main driver’s behind him choosing Brazil over anywhere else in the world was the Brazilian approach to fighting and life aswell as the passion from the Brazilians for MMA.
“When me and my coach, Colin Heron from Team Kaobon decided to make the move to Brazil I was only meant to go for 6 months. In England there wasn’t much opportunity for me and it was hard to get fights. Colin is good friends with Marcelo Brigadeiro so we went to train with him and his team. As soon as I saw the training and Brazilian way of fighting I just wanted to stay.”
“The main difference between European MMA and MMA in Brazil is that you really can fight Friday, Saturday and Sunday every week in Brazil if you want. It may not necessarily be on the best shows against the best fighters but Brazil is crazy about MMA. There is not a single person in Brazil who doesn’t know about MMA. It really is unbelievable and if you’re a fighter in Brazil everyone knows you.”
With a win in the UFC under his belt and confidence at an all time high the young Welterweight really does have a golden ticket to reach his dreams of one day becoming UFC Champion. So where does the ladder to the gold take him next and is there any names at 170lbs that he really wants to compete against next?
“You always see fighters who want to choose paths but that’s not me. I really just want the hardest fights and want to be constantly tested. I want to be kicked and taken down so I know if I can hang with the best. I would like to be champion one day. Any fight the UFC give me I am taking it. I will take on anyone.”
“My coach always says he wants me to “suffer as much as possible” and that is a champion’s mindset and that quote will always sticks with me.”
Darren would like to thank “my sponsors Stance Fight Wear and Noxii Fight Wear, Herois da Pizzza Nieri, Empreendimentos and my two teams Kaobon and Astra Fight Team.”