UFC middleweight Darren Till believes the fanbase and media place too much emphasis on how fighters fare against each other in sparring sessions.
While there’s usually a number of narratives at play when it comes to high-profile UFC fights and rivalries, nothing fuels anticipation and discussion ahead of a bout quite like some history in the gym.
Perhaps the most recent example of that came earlier this year ahead of UFC 270. Prior to their heavyweight unification clash, the topic of Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane’s past sparring sessions in Paris rose to the surface, as did footage of said spars.
What followed was a back and forth of different takes, with MMA Factory coach Fernand Lopez claiming Gane knocked Ngannou down, while “The Predator” suggested he sent “Bon Gamin” to the canvas with a left high kick.
That discourse, as well as the video, shaped the predictions of some fans. But according to former welterweight title challenger Till, sparring sessions mean nothing in the context of a fight.
Till: I Could F*ck Up GSP In The Gym & It Would Mean Nothing
During an edition of TheMacLife’s Pub Talk with Oscar Willis, Till discussed his recent sparring sessions with fellow middleweight contender Sean Strickland. A fight between “Tarzan” and the Liverpudlian has been heavily rumored, and even reportedly offered to Till, in the past, but that didn’t stop the two from throwing down.
“The Gorilla” noted that while some will put heavy focus on the fact he sparred with Strickland, especially if they eventually get booked to meet in the Octagon, the sessions meant “jack sh*t.”
“Sean was cool about it. Sean was training with Khamzat… Then Sean was like, ‘Listen, me and you are gonna fight one day, but let’s spar.’ And I’m not this kinda guy who’s insecure about sparring with a future opponent, so I was like, ‘Yeh,'” said Till. “We sparred at (Xtreme) Couture, then he invited me down to the boxing gym… We done loads of rounds together.
“Listen, there’s nothing to it… Me and Sean Strickland sparred, there’s nothing else to it. It’s not like I died, he died… Put a lid on that sh*t. You get comments like, ‘Who won the spar?’ Mate, the spar doesn’t mean jack sh*t,” added Till.
Till has previously been involved in some sparring drama with former UFC fighter and now-BKFC competitor Mike Perry. “Platinum” seemed to suggest he got the better of the exchanges during their 2018 session.
For Till, there’s no need to speak about what happens in the gym because he doesn’t feel it matters, a concept the Englishman believes the fans and the media fail to grasp.
“I haven’t to this day (spoken about the Perry spar). He did, obviously… I don’t need to talk about what happened in the spar. I never do need to talk about it,” said Till. “The first day at Xtreme Couture, I showed up and I wasn’t in the best of shapes. Sean, yeah, he got a few extra punches on me, big wow?
“GSP could come to my gym tomorrow and I could f*ck him up, that does not mean anything. It’s the fight. The fans don’t really understand that concept, or reporters… Listen, sparring means jack sh*t,” concluded Till.
Do you agree with Darren Till? Do fans and media put too much emphasis on sparring sessions?