Who is Darren Till, the British UFC fighter everybody’s talking about?
The Liverpool fighter expects to be a UFC champion by the end of next year.
Darren Till, a 24-year-old Liverpudlian, is causing quite a bit of excitement among UFC fans.
The muay Thai fighter has his sights set on a Welterweight championship fight in 2018 – but with a lot of confidence and a gift for talking himself up not unlike another notorious UFC champion, it’s not just his skills in the Octagon that are winning him fans.
So who is he?
For an English fighter, his path has been unconventional. A call from the UFC, for a British fighter, usually follows success in British promotions like Cage Warriors and BAMMA.
But after moving to Brazil at 19 on the advice of his coach at Liverpool’s Team Kaobon, Colin Heron, Till’s first fight for the UFC came there in 2015.
The unbeaten fighter had reportedly been stabbed twice in the back while in Liverpool, which played a part in his move to Balneario Camboriu.
Till, who began learning muay Thai at 12, immersed himself in the new culture and language, and eventually became well versed in grappling and wrestling under the tutelage of coach Marcelo Brigadeiro of the Astra Fight Team.
“The first two months were difficult. I didn’t really know what I was doing or where I was going, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to pan out. But I settled, got myself together, and it was fun, and now I consider Brazil a second home,” Till told MMA Junkie.
It wasn’t just improved MMA skills Till left Brazil with – while he was there he had his first child, who still lives there, with Till coming back to Liverpool to train with his “master” Heron.
“It’s not easy being away from my daughter because I love her and she’s my little bit of daylight. This is all for her and me and her mother, because I want us all to have a good life,” he said.
WOOOWWW!— #UFCLiverpool: Till vs. Wonderboy on BT Sport (@btsportufc) October 21, 2017
What a performance, Darren Till 👏👏👏
UK MMA has a new star! 🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/AUKh5jMruO
Since his first UFC fight in 2015, Till has suffered injury and taken a long hiatus, but is unbeaten in five fights, which includes two knockouts and two unanimous decisions. The Liverpudlian has also drawn one fight, with Nicolas Dalby.
And he’s got big ambitions for himself in the sport.
“I don’t want to just be the champion, I want to be the all-time greatest,” Till told Fighters Only Mag.
“I want to practically be the Muhammad Ali of the UFC. I know that’s a big thing to say, and people might get the wrong impression, but you’ve got to dream big.
“I don’t even think about not achieving my goals or not becoming champion. That’s really not even an option for me.”
Despite the excitement around him following his most recent victory, a first round TKO over veteran Donald Cerrone, Till isn’t getting ahead of himself.
“Next year yeah, not now,” he told BT Sport about a potential title shot following his fight on Saturday.
“I don’t deserve a title shot, you have to live on planet Earth and I can’t start calling title shots right now, it’s not fair to the contenders. But by the end of 2018 I’ll beat the champion.”
Before then, Till wants to set up a fight with another exciting welterweight prospect, Mike Perry – who was cageside to watch his shock victory over Cerrone.
It’s early, but it looks like the UK might have its next UFC star.