Darren Till looks to penetrate UFC’s Middleweight division Top-5 rankings this Saturday night against Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 36.
Action returns to the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada with Liverpoolian fighters dead-set on a North American takeover. Middleweights Darren Till and Derek Brunson sit atop the card as headliners for their five-round affair.
The #5-ranked Brunson, 37, will look to cement his spot in line to fight the undisputed middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. While the two threw hands once before, Adesanya’s striking left Brunson befuddled which resulted in the NCAA Division II All-American wrestler being TKO’d in the first round of their 2018 contest.
Till, 28, started his young UFC journey at welterweight. The smooth striker managed to go unbeaten in six contests which lead to him fighting for welterweight gold in 2018. After losing to the champion Tyron Woodley by TKO, Till then lost on home soil inside of the O2 Arena. That fateful night saw the beginning of an emerging star in Jorge Masvidal and served as the catalyst for Till’s transformation. From that point, the Liverpool native knew requisite changes were on the horizon. Revitalized in a new weight class, he took his services to 185-pounds and showed he belonged with a split-decision win against Kelvin Gastelum in his middleweight debut.
Brunson vs. Till: A Closer Look
Brunson and Till both like to stand in a southpaw stance, but Till’s fluid striking and feints are a big reason for his success. For example, in Till’s fight against Whittaker, the southpaw striker used his hard feints to draw Whittaker out of his defensive shell. Once Whittaker bit on Till’s feints, he was able to launch nasty body kicks from his left leg as well as devastating lead-in elbows and powerful hooks.
Till also has a very active guard. Since Brunson averages 3.11 takedowns per fifteen minutes, it’s safe to say that Till’s guard will pay dividends should the wrestler get the fight to the mat. Till is very capable of keeping the fight standing in a five-round fight, so Brunson will need to employ some slick entrances if he plans to shoot in successfully. Demonstrated in the Whittaker fight, Till showed that his wrestling defense is stellar. Of thirteen attempted takedowns by “The Reaper”, only two were successful against the Liverpool native. While he lost by a unanimous decision, the fight certainly spoke volumes about Till’s ability to face adversity in a five-round fight.
Brunson recently found the right recipe for blending his striking and wrestling together. The middleweight put forth one of his best performances against a fellow rising contender in Edmen Shahbazyan. Without a doubt, the violent fight put much of the division on notice. Nearly eight months after Brunson mauled Shahbazyan by TKO, he welcomed Kevin Holland to the top of the division. In the end, the “Trailblazer” was sent off to wrestling practice because Brunson’s entries and top pressure proved to be too much for the outlandish Holland.
As Till has been stuck with a few close decision losses, this is a pivotal fight for the 28-year old. With the notoriety he already has, a statement knockout could turn “The Gorilla” into the hottest commodity at middleweight. While at first, Brunson didn’t see the merit in fighting lower in the rankings, after a candid discussion with Till, it seems the prospect of notoriety changed Brunson’s mind. Meanwhile, it looks as though Whittaker is next in line for Adesanya anyway.
Once the middleweight title picture clears, the fighter who comes out victorious at UFC Vegas 36 will be sitting pretty as far as the contender queue goes for 185-pounds. Either way, if the winner capitalizes with a nasty finish, then they won’t be knocking on Adesanya’s door—they’ll be busting it down.
Prediction: Darren Till def. Derek Brunson via unanimous decision
Who are you picking to win in the main event at UFC Vegas 36?