At one point one of if not the greatest MMA rising stars on the face of the entire planet, fan-favorite Darren Till now sits 1-4 in his last five fights after his latest bout at UFC Vegas 36. Before this slump though, Till was an undefeated British superstar whose radiance could only be compared to the likes of legendary UK fighters such as the great Michael Bisping.
While still gigantically popular and a man with the charisma that inspires un-yielding love and support from fans, we could all probably admit that “The Gorilla” is a long cry away from the undefeated title contender that faced down Tyron Woodley at UFC 228. So, what happened to Till? Well, we couldn’t really answer that question and do it justice without first examining the rise of our beloved Liverpool-born phenom first.
The Rise of One of Nature’s Most Prolific Beasts: “The Gorilla”
Making his UFC debut with an ultra-loud bang with an emphatic ground and pound elbow TKO win over Wendell Oliveira, Till improved his professional MMA record to 13-0 and was definitely attracting a ton of attention as the next potential UK MMA icon. See, the world has yet to see a British UFC champion since the legendary Bisping, and it’s almost as if ever since the people have been eagerly anticipating the next one.
Nowadays, with big up-and-coming UK MMA stars such as Jack Shore, Paddy Pimblett, and “Meatball” Molly McCann (to name a few), fans are surely a little more at ease as far as their hopes go of potentially seeing the next UK champion crowned. However back then, “The Gorilla” was like the only hope. And what’s more, not that it really matters, he shares the same flag as Bisping. How cool would it be for Till to be the next UK champion and not only that but the next British champion as well?
Anyways, following that huge debut, Till would come to a majority draw with Nicolas Dalby. Before going on an utter rampage in the welterweight division. Most notable among the four big wins following the draw with Dalby was the decimation of treasured legend Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, and a well-earned decision victory over the great Stephen Thompson.
By this point, “The Gorilla” really seemed to be an unstoppable force at 170lbs, and he was being highly touted (deservedly so, many would say). Here enters: Woodley.
Hurdles Towards the Path to Greatness
At UFC 228, Woodley would take Till’s “0” and make him officially 17-1-1. While losing to “The Chosen One” via D’arce choke might not have been the biggest setback ever, what came next would make “The Gorilla” re-evaluate his career in the 170lbs division.
The fight was in London’s O2 Arena, right in “The Gorilla’s” backyard. Jorge Masvidal might not have known it, but this night would make his career. Not only would he flatline Till with a crisp combo in round two, but this was the night of the now legendary “Three-piece and a soda”. Where in a backstage interview after his electric performance over Till in the main event, Masvidal would get into a verbal altercation with Leon Ewards, which would end with “GameBred” full on assaulting Edwards and busting up his face to the point of drawing blood.
Between the knockout from Masvidal, the loss to Woodley in a championship bout, and the difficulty of cutting down to 170lbs, Till made the decision to move up, and say goodbye to the welterweight division. What follows is basically recent common knowledge. “The Gorilla” would win his middleweight debut via split-decision, and defeat Kelvin Gastelum. Next, a close fight with former champion Robert Whittaker would result in a unanimous decision loss for Till. And now full circle: most recently, a round three rear-naked-choke from Derek Brunson would force the tap from “The Gorilla”.
So, What Happened? And, What’s Next?
First and foremost, injuries happened. After the draw with Dalby, we wouldn’t see Till fight again for two years due to a shoulder injury. Flash forward almost four years, and “The Gorilla” was bitten by the injury bug once again. Scheduled to fight Jack Hermansson at UFC Vegas 16, Till would be forced to pull out due to damage sustained to his knee in the Whittaker fight. As if that wasn’t already unlucky, our British superstar would suffer another injury, this time due to a broken collarbone.
So, are injuries to blame as far as this change we’ve seen in “The Gorilla” goes? Perhaps. Maybe, it’s not just the injuries though. All one has to do is take a gander at Till’s level of competition. Not only has he been battling the injury bug, he has literally been facing some of the greatest fighters not only in his weight class but in the world!
So what happened to “The Gorilla”? We’ll say nothing happened. The results of his last few bouts are merely just a man, only 28 years of age, finding his way in the world’s most cut-throat, and brutal MMA promotion on the face of the planet.
After his most recent loss to Brunson, Till would take to social media, posting photos of Charles Oliveira the UFC lightweight champion, and Michael Bisping. Two fighters that are the absolute epitome of what it means to be a champion, many would say. Two men that lost a lot on their way to the throne, but still managed to realize their dreams. Darren Till will be just like those men, many might also say. However, just as the waves on an ocean, or sand on a beach, fate remains immeasurable. Until then, fans will hold on to their hope to see “The Gorilla” realize his dreams, just as they hold onto the hope of one day realizing their own.
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Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images