What Darren Till taught us at UFC 244
Darren Till has always been a brutally honest guy. It is what makes the fans appreciate him so much, and extremely likable. So it was not all that surprising to hear Till spit much more of that honesty after UFC 244.
“I was trying to fake an injury before walking out”, said Till post-fight. I mean, when do you hear such statement out of a fighter? Probably never. While it is unusual, it is understandable why he may have felt such way, though. As soon as the fight was announced, many of the fans, including myself, was scared for Till. Not because he was an individual without talent, but because of his opponent, Kelvin Gastelum’s talents.
I can’t help but recall this particular tweet I sent out days before UFC 244:
As #UFC244 gets closer and closer, I can't help but think about just how ballsy Darren Till is for taking this fight. Love him or hate him, true fighter.— Jaewon Paik (@JaewonPaikMMA) October 31, 2019
Gastelum is a nightmare match up for anybody in the middleweight division. The evidence being, nobody looks at Gastelum as an opponent and says, “I can win pretty easily if I just do [this].” On top possessing serious knockout power even for the division, Gastelum is also a black belt in BJJ. This makes him a tough outing against anyone, and even for a striker as talented as Israel Adesanya, Gastelum gave him a ton of problems.
The road to UFC 244
Till, who also prides himself on being a striker, was coming off first back-to-back losses of his career. His first loss, if you remember, was against Tyron Woodley, where Till challenged for his first world title. Till then headlined another UK card against this past weekend’s headliner Jorge Masvidal, where he suffered a brutal second-round knockout. It was a shocking result to many fans, to say the least, especially considering Masvidal has been out of the game for over a year.
Unsurprisingly at this point, Till showed no signs of slowing down. The MMA community was soon shown headlines that informed them of Till’s closure at welterweight. Instead, it was announced that ‘The Gorilla’ was moving up to face Gastelum in Madison Square Garden. In many ways frightened for Till and excited for the fight at the same time, the fans began making their picks.
Leading up to the fight, Till displayed extreme confidence, as he did for all of his fights. It did seem like he was holding back on remarks of other middleweights, but once again made people believe that he was going to win.
The fight… and post-fight
UFC 244 finally rolled around, and when it was his time to perform, that is exactly what Till did. Despite all the doubts and talks about the stylistic match up, Till fought an extremely smart fight and was able to earn a split decision win over Gastelum, although many believe the decision should have been unanimous for the Englishman. Regardless of the controversy, Till’s performance still impressed.
After the fight, Till was not shy to say that “the confidence is back”. He told everyone that he had some things to say after the fight, and he made sure to tell everyone to “message me tonight and say something about it,” said Till in his octagon interview. Needless to say, at just 26 years of age, Till has some real potential at 185lbs.
Lot to learn
While Till may be a young talent, there are lots of things we can learn from him and his actions. Wisdom can come with age, but it can also come from watching others. I felt there were plenty of things to learn from Till throughout this whole experience, so let me share some of them:
Dealing with losses
This is something that has been far more noticeable for me after seeing Dominick Cruz post-UFC 207 back in 2016. Recently, we have seen some different respectable ways to deal with losses, from Ben Askren to Robert Whittaker, but Till has shown us his own way of dealing with losses.
Losses happen in life, to EVERYONE. The only thing we can control is how we move on from the loss. And Till has done a spectacular job moving on from his last loss, taking on another competition just as tough, if not tougher. As long as we believe in our abilities and we work hard enough for it, past results don’t necessarily have to count towards your confidence. Your confidence should come from who you are right now, not who you might have been when you took a loss in life.
Always challenging the top
Till has always been an exciting guy to watch, and a fan favorite. For good reasons too, as he has never been the one to turn down a challenge. His willingness to fight anyone, anytime, and anywhere has always been a selling point.
This fight was no different, as Till jumped right into the deep end of the division. This is something that should be given a lot of credit for. If you have a specific goal, which in this case for Till, it is to be the greatest fighter to ever live, it is always important to challenge the toughest tasks. Backed up with proper training (for whatever respective field), there should never be ‘easy’ goals.
Frustration, or struggle is an important factor, given that there is right amount of it. Too much or too little frustration could cause one to be stuck in a particular stage of his/her career. Where Till got things right, is knowing that there is no fight out there that could give him too much frustration, as he is extremely confident in his skills. But too little frustration is certainly possible, if he chose to fight against lower-ranked opponents. This mindset allows him to continue challenging the toughest fighters in the division, in hopes of challenging himself as well, and such motivation could take you a long way.
Respectful but confident
As we all know, Till is never afraid to speak his mind. It does get misinterpreted quite a lot, which is bound to happen with any confident athlete.
But we clearly saw that the respect from Till, both inside and outside of the cage. Till credited Gastelum for being the ‘bulldozer of the division’ after the fight, and even during the fight, his approach carried a lot of respect for his counterpart.
But among the respect given out by Till, his confidence never wavered. And this is very important. Competition is about seeing who has better skills, but there is nothing wrong with being confident. And if that confidence gets misinterpreted for cockiness, then you have to have the confidence to say “I don’t care.” Not relying too much on public opinion, and finding self-confidence from within, will lay out a much easier path to success.
Hard work does not guarantee success. But the absence of hard work guarantees failure. Being able to sell yourself is very crucial, but working hard enough to have the skills to back it up is just as important.
Till, no matter how much he talks, works his butt off. Before he took the losses against Woodley and Masvidal, he worked hard. After he took the losses, he worked just as hard. And it has gotten him this massive win on a huge platform on Saturday night.
You can do everything else that has any sort of relation to success, but without hard work, it simply does not matter. Success is no accident.
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