The UFC announced over the weekend that the promotion’s next stop in Europe will take place on May 27, when the UFC heads to Echo Arena in Liverpool, England for the first time. The promotion has already tabbed Liverpool’s own Darren Till as the headliner of the card, though he does not yet have an opponent. According to the UFC, an opponent will be announced this week.
If you ask Till, the other welterweights don’t want to fight him. According to Till, he’s expressed interest in fighting Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in the main event, but Thompson is on the shelf mending a hand injury. Till also suggested Jorge Masvidal as an opponent, but he said that Masvidal needs more time to get ready. Other welterweights, according to Till, don’t want to travel to England to fight him after seeing what he just did to Donald Cerrone in his last fight, destroying him via TKO.
But there is one fighter who has publicly called Till out, and it’s a fighter who has a top-15 ranking and a win streak. That fighter is none other than Leon Edwards, who this weekend set a UFC record for the latest knockout in Octagon history as he finished Peter Sobotta at 4:59 of the third round in their fight at UFC London. As soon as UFC commentator Dan Hardy gave him the mic during his post-fight interview, Edwards was already taking the bull by the horns and, in emphatic fashion, called out Till to fight him at UFC Liverpool.
Immediate reaction to the call-out on social media was split, and I’m not sure why as I personally believe this is the right fight for the UFC to book as the Liverpool main event. Some think that Edwards is not at Till’s level, but his 7-2 record in the UFC and five-fight win streak beg to differ. Like Till, Edwards says other welterweights don’t want to fight him and that’s why he’s fighting unranked opponents even though he’s clearly one of the best welterweights in the world. I believe Edwards when he says this, as he’s one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division but at the same time not a big name. Now he’s calling out Till, who is having the same problem of having opponents turn down fights against him. So it only makes sense that they fight, right?
It’s true Till is England’s prodigal son at the moment, and the guy that many Brits believe will be the next UFC champion, following in the footsteps of Michael Bisping. At just 24 years of age and constantly improving every fight, it’s clear Till is going to be a very good fighter for a very long time. He has an undefeated MMA record at 16-0-1, including a pristine 4-0-1 record in the UFC, so the hype behind him is with merit. But Edwards is right there behind him, and for whatever reason the entire MMA community is sleeping on him despite a 15-3 MMA record, with his only loss since 2015 coming to top-ranked Kamaru Usman. I don’t know why Edwards isn’t getting the respect he deserves, and it’s surprising that even England doesn’t seem to have embraced him the way they have Till. But he’s an exciting fighter and at age 26 is ready to take the next step in his career. A win over Till would certainly do just that.
From a matchmaking perspective, Till vs. Edwards makes a lot of sense. A fight between Till and Edwards guarantees that an England-based fighter would win the fight, which would bode well for the future of the sport in Europe. It’s a win-win situation for all. If Till wins, he goes out there and beats the guy who called him out and the hype behind him gets even stronger. If Edwards wins, he beats the top prospect in the welterweight division and becomes an immediate title contender. Stylistically, it’s a great fight, as Till and Edwards are two of the best strikers in the welterweight division and both have solid grappling as well. Though Till would be favored, Edwards would absolutely be a live dog in that fight. It’s an intriguing matchup from nearly every perspective, and also because the UFC should reward fighters who call their shot. If no one else beside Edwards is calling out Till, then the UFC should go ahead and give him the fight he wants. It would be a great fight.
I’m very high on both Till and Edwards and believe both men have the potential to contend for the welterweight title within the next few years. Though Till is the one everyone is hyped up for right now, Edwards is right behind him. If no one else wants to fight Till, then why not give Edwards the fight? It would be an amazing main event between two England natives for a fight in Liverpool, and Edwards has made it easy for the UFC to book this fight considering the callout. The UFC would have an easy time promoting this bout and stylistically it’s a lot of fun, so the promotion should just go ahead and book and set fans up for a grudge match just two short months from now. The trash talk would be epic and the fight should be as well, so hopefully the UFC does the right thing and books it.
Who would win a fight between Till and Edwards? Leave a comment below with your prediction.