UFC Fight Night Whittaker vs. Till comes to you live from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi tonight, and the card is jam-packed with some of MMA’s biggest superstars. The card is headlined by a Middleweight bout between title contenders Robert Whittaker and Darren Till. But the action doesn’t stop there as several other MMA stars are scheduled to fight, including Shogun Rua, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Fabricio Werdum, Alex Gustafsson, Carla Esparza, and Marina Rodriguez. In this article, we will break down the action in the main event between Robert Whittaker and Darren Till.
Not one… Not two… Fifteen bouts close our July run tomorrow! 🏝
— UFC (@ufc) July 24, 2020
Robert Whittaker (21-5) vs. Darren Till (18-2-1)
The main event tonight from Fight Island is a hotly anticipated bout in the Middleweight division between number one contender Robert Whittaker and the number five ranked, Darren Till. Whittaker is looking to rebound after losing his Middleweight title in his last fight, when the Style Bender Israel Adesanya, knocked him out in the second round. Whittaker had won nine straight fights before losing to Adesanya.
— UFC (@ufc) July 25, 2020
For Till, he is fighting for just the second time in the UFC at Middleweight and won his debut in his new weight class against Kelvin Gastelum late last year, in a split decision. Till was undefeated in his MMA career before getting choked out by Tyron Woodley when he challenged Woodley for his Welterweight title at UFC 228 in 2018. After a second consecutive loss at Welterweight, the second of which came against the BMF titleholder, Jorge Masvidal, Till decided to move up in weight and is quickly moving up the rankings in the Middleweight division.
Whittaker is a small betting favorite as he is laying -134. The fight is expected to not go the distance, as the no go prob bet is the favorite at -159.
It has been a tale of two careers for Robert Whittaker in his time in the UFC. When Whittaker first got the call up to the big show, after winning on the Ultimate Fighter, he started out slow. He went just 1-2 in his first three fights, including a loss to the less than highly touted, Court McGee. But after losing to Stephen Wonder Boy Thompson, something clicked for Whittaker, and he went on a tear, rampaging through the UFC Middleweight division.
— UFC (@ufc) July 24, 2020
Whittaker reeled off nine consecutive wins, with wins over some of the best fighters in the world. Whittaker picked up wins over Yoel Romero (twice), Jacare Souza, Derek Brunson, and Uriah Hall. He had five-fight of the night performances during that run, and eventually claimed the Middleweight title when he defeated Yoel Romero for the then vacant strap. Despite losing in his last fight to Israel Adesanya, Whittaker remains the number one contender in the weight class and is currently ranked as the #14 pound for pound fighter in the UFC.
Darren Till hit the UFC undefeated and kept that unblemished record through his first six UFC fights, picking up wins over legit contenders like Stephen Thompson and Donald Cerrone along the way. Till finally got his title shot against Tyron Woodley but came up short as he was stopped by Woodley via Darce choke in the second round.
Till had always struggled to make weight at Welterweight, missing weight on multiple occasions, and after losing back to back fights in the division, decided to make the move up to Middleweight. His debut at the higher weight class was a success as he was able to pick up a win over Kelvin Gastelum, but it was a close split decision win, and he clearly was the smaller man.
— UFC (@ufc) July 24, 2020
Moving up in weight is always a dicey decision, and you have to wonder if he is going to be able to handle the power of the much bigger and stronger Robert Whittaker. If Till can find a way to pick up the upset victory tonight over the number one contender, he would be right in line for a title shot. If he losses, he would slide down the rankings a bit and likely need at least two or three more quality wins at Middleweight before he gets back to the top of the division.
This is an exciting matchup between two guys that always bring it. Both of these guys are regular fight of the night winners, and they are going to put on a show tonight on Fight Island. But, when I look at Darren Till’s run at Welterweight, in retrospect, it wasn’t all that impressive.
Yeah, he won a bunch of fights, but when you look at the guys that he beat, the only win he has over a fighter currently ranked in the division, was the win against Stephen Thompson, a guy who’s stock is plummeting as he has just two wins in his last four fights. The win over Cowboy Cerrone is a decent one, but similar to Thompson, that win is looking worse and worse as we look back, as Cowboy has lost four straight fights and is 4-8 in his last twelve bouts.
It is always risky to go back and try and retcon a guy’s fights, as even some of the best fighter’s resumes look mediocre after the fact, but when Darren Till had his shots against truly elite fighters, he lost. The wins over Cowboy and Wonder Boy were nice, but he may have just caught both of those guys at the right time.
That just hasn’t been the case with Whittaker, as he has beaten the absolute best fighters at Middleweight, and if he wins this fight, will end up getting a rematch with Adesanya for the title, and I think that is exactly what will happen.
I just don’t think Till will have the size and power to hang with Whittaker in this one. I would have liked to have seen at least one or two more fights at Middleweight for Till before he jumped right to the top of the division. Let him build up his body slowly over time and grow into the division. Instead, he is going to go in the smaller man, with the weaker resume, and he is deservedly the underdog.
Both of these guys have the ability to stop fights, but I see this one going to a decision. I think that Whittaker will win most of the exchanges in what should be a moistly stand up affair. Whittaker won’t dominate him, as Till is a game fighter, but I also don’t see Till really threatening him either. Expect an action-packed back and forth bout where Robert Whittaker gets his hand raised with a unanimous decision victory.