Written by Jack Zampillo (@Jack_Zampillo15) — July 23rd, 2020
Robert Whittaker vs. Darren Till is one of the best fights the UFC could’ve made in 2020. We have Robert Whitakker, the decorated former middleweight champion squaring off with Darren Till, whose personality is just as entertaining as his fighting style. With current champion Israel Adesanya scheduled to put his belt on the line at UFC 253 vs. Paulo Costa, the winner of this fight, especially with a finish, has a rightful claim to the next title shot. Will Whittaker rise from the ashes, or will the former welterweight title contender become the next threat to the throne?
Fighting out of Sydney, Australia, Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker has an opportunity to avenge his mistakes and remind the middleweight division of why he was once champion. Following his loss to Israel Adesanya at UFC 243, Whittaker felt “burnt out” and needed time away from the sport. With a re-kindled fire, Whittaker is ready to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
With 21 wins and nearly an hour of war with Yoel Romero to his name, it’s no doubt Whittaker has the ability to compete at the top-heavy 185 pound division. The 29 year old implements a polished, well-rounded skill set that has allowed him to dictate the pace in many of his fights. Whittaker works very well off of the jab, and effectively moves in and out of the pocket while threatening all sorts of attacks, from head kicks to double legs. I’m interested to see how Whittaker looks on Saturday. To be completely honest, he looked like a depleted version of himself against Adesanya. We’ll see if this “fire” can burn brighter than before.
Standing across from Whittaker will be the charismatic, dangerous force who goes by the name of Darren Till, or whatever his Twitter profile says this week. Boasting a resume that includes 18 wins with 10 knockouts at the age of 27, Till is one of the most highly-touted international fighters in the UFC. After getting knocked out by Jorge Masvidal early in 2019, Till decided to put a halt to sacrificing his body and moved up to middleweight. “I feel like it was the right choice,” Till said in an interview with ESPN’s Alexis Nunes regarding the weight change. England’s own proved this to be the case by knocking off Kelvin Gastellum at UFC 244, a win that granted him a one-way ticket into the top 5.
Don’t let the gimmick fool you; Darren Till can scrap. With a wide arsenal that combines combinations with heavy kicks, Till gains his opponents respect before the cage door is even locked. He possesses a lethal left hand, the same left hand that knocked out Donald Cerrone in under 5 minutes. But what stands out to me about Till is his patience. Watch his fight with Kelvin Gastellum. Kelvin tried baiting Till into a dirty boxing match from the jump, yet Till stayed poised and kept himself under control, dictating the pace. Till needs to be able to maintain that patience, especially against a guy like Whittaker. I know I wouldn’t want to trade fisticuffs with a guy who fought and beat one of the scariest men in the UFC.
The most interesting stylistic aspect is the fact that while Robert Whittaker tends to be first to the exchanges, while Till thrives off of counters. As previously stated, Whittaker’s game flows from the jab, and I believe his versatility and ability to stifle his opponents in the pocket will prove to be too much for Darren Till.
Robert Whittaker by decision.