On the 25th of July 2020, the MMA leader will look to cap off their fourth and final event on Fight Island with this stacked card featuring 15 fights headlined by the Middleweight Bout between #1 ranked Robert Whittaker and the #5 ranked Darren Till. The card also features a Light Heavyweight bout between the former champ Mauricio Rua and Antonio Nogueira after Alexander Gustaffson’s Heavyweight debut against former Heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum.
Former Welterweight contenders Robert Whittaker (21-5) and Darren Till (18-2-1) are set to fight it out for 25 minutes in one of the most anticipated and fan-favorite fights of the year. Let’s look at how they match up.
They match up very similarly, so much that their birthdays are 4 days are apart. Till 2 years the younger has a 1” reach advantage over the former champion. They both come in at 6’0″ so as Mike Goldberg would say, “THEY ARE VIRTUALLY IDENTICAL”.
HOW THE DIVISION STANDS
At the moment the middleweight Division is stacked with killers. Till can make a case that he is next in line to face the winner of Adesanya vs Costa after UFC 253 plays out on the 19th of September. If Whittaker does win the fight, he will probably need another win before he fights for the title given the manner he lost the belt to Adesanya. #3 ranked Jared Cannonier also has some big wins to his name and can also make his case for the title shot or fight the winner of this fight.
THE REAPER (21-5)
The New Zealander has found immense success in moving up to middleweight after weight cutting issues hampered his progress at welterweight. He has notable wins against Brad Tavares, Uriah Hall, Derek Brunson, Jacare Souza, and of course his 50 minute battle with Yoel Romero will go down as a timeless classic. He’s 8-1 at 185lbs with the one loss coming against Israel Adesanya at UFC 243. Since then Bobby Knuckles as he’s called affectionately by the fans took some time off to heal up and rejuvenate himself but now he’s back, hungrier than ever, and ready to get his belt back.
THE GORILLA (18-2-1)
The Scouse, much like his counterpart started off at 170lbs and was on a tear as he ran through top contenders in Nicolas Dalby, Cowboy Cerrone, Bojan Veličković and Wonderboy Thompson and soon found himself fighting the then champ Tyron Woodley for a shot at the title but a submission defeat in the second round and a KO defeat the next fight against Jorge Masvidal all while he was struggling to make the weight, turned his sights to the 185lb division and he has since never looked back. His most recent victory came against top-ranked Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 244 as he won via SD. He will be looking to make a statement come Saturday as a win would increase his stock significantly.
It’s fair to say that this fight is going to be a stand-up war with both men having fantastic striking credentials. Whittaker with a background in Hapkido and Karate and Till with his Thai boxing background. It’s also a classic Orthodox vs Southpaw match up. Expect to see both fighters using their rear legs for hard body kicks. Till will look to be more aggressive as he’s the pressure fighter while Whittaker will be cautious and have Till come to him. The Brit however with his Thai boxing background will have a high guard with a lot of arm moment and quick range changes. Till like always will take his time to test and read his opponents with feints before finding his rhythm. Both the fighters have good takedown defense and expect Whittaker to clinch or shoot for a takedown only if his striking doesn’t go according to plan. Whittaker with his high significant strike output will look to capitalize on Till’s mediocre head moment and catch him.
WATCH OUT FOR
Whittaker uses this snap high kick to good effect after placing it perfectly. He’ll look to use it if he has the opponent up against the fences skirting along. It’s different from the other kicks in that his hips don’t move with the kick. The kick extends from his knees and snaps at the top.
The New Zealander is calm and calculated with good footwork. He prefers the opponents coming to him as he can effectively counter with his well-timed punches and crisp combinations.
One of the most dangerous left hands in the game, Till has dropped multiple opponents with this weapon and put them away. Much like Adesanya he’ll feint expecting his opponents to throw so he can crack him with his left hand.
Since Whittaker stands heavy on his lead leg expect Till to hit him with some knee stomps in hope of hyperextending it to slow down Whittaker’s movement like Romero did back in UFC 213.
This fight was originally scheduled to headline the UFC Dublin event which was supposed to take place on the 15th of August but amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the travel restrictions, the fight got rescheduled and will take place on Fight Island this Saturday. All in all, this should be a great fight and a top pick to win the fight of the night bonus. This will be a high stakes fight between two fan favorites who will look to finish each other and progress toward a shot at the title.
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