'Realist' Darren Till admits title loss still hurts, seeks first-round KO of Jorge Masvidal
LONDON – For all the big talk that comes along with a Darren Till fight, there’s generally quite a bit of raw honesty, as well.
Take, for instance, Till’s admission that while he’s moved forward since his September loss at UFC 229 to then-champ Tyron Woodley, moving completely past it isn’t necessarily in the cards.
“I don’t think I’ll ever move past it,” Till told MMA Junkie. “I’m not ashamed to say it still hurts every day if it comes to mind. I’ve watched the fight many times, and it’s just something inside of me. Even if I get the rematch with Woodley and beat him, the first fight will still be a thorn inside of me.
“I’ve always said that openly, you can’t really go through this life – a normal life or the fighting life – with it all being highs. The lows do come, and I always said that a loss would come. A loss may come again. A loss may happen Saturday. I’m not scared to talk about it because it’s all reality. I am a realist.”
Till’s loss to Woodley marked the first setback of his professional career. It’s a moment so frustrating, “The Gorilla” admits that with Woodley’s recent loss to Kamaru Usman, he’d likely take a rematch with Woodley over an immediate shot at the belt if given a choice.
“To get past it, it’s not about getting better, it’s about learning from little, tiny mistakes,” Till said. “It’s all like little mistakes that you think you did wrong and you work on them and you try and grow from them. I know there’s a famous saying a lot of people say, ‘Win or learn,’ but to me, it’s just you win or you lose. I lost, and I just try to change a few little mistakes that I felt I made, but ultimately, as I’ll always say, on that night, the guy that fought me was better.
“I just want to avenge that one loss and prove that I’m better than him.”
In the meantime, Till (17-1-1 MMA, 5-1-1 UFC) will take on Jorge Masvidal (32-13 MMA, 9-6 UFC) in the main event of Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 5, which takes place at The O2 in London and streams live on ESPN+.
It’s a match that seems destined to provide a fan-friendly battle, even if there hasn’t been much pre-fight drama between the two.
“I just remember when I first met Masvidal in London a few weeks ago, and sometimes off-camera, people are different than when they are on-camera,” Till said. “I’m the same on or off. If you’ve got a problem with me, you can sort it on-camera or off. I just seen him, and he’s a mean-looking dude, and we shook hands, and it was like, ‘OK.’ I’ve got nothing bad to say about a guy who hasn’t got any ego to prove. He knows what he is. People know what he is.
“I’m 26 now. I was watching Masvidal when I was a young, young boy, not in the cage but in the streets. I’ve just got respect for him. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to kill him because I do, but I’ve just got a lot of respect for him.”
Despite the respect, or maybe even partly due to it, Till has said he’ll only be fully satisfied with his performance on Saturday if it ends with a first-round knockout. It’s a bold prediction against such a seasoned competitor, but Till isn’t backing down from the claim.
“If it happens, a lot of people will sit back and go, ‘He did what he said,’ but I also know the guy I’m facing, and I know it could turn into a five-round absolute war – blood, sweat and tears – and either one gets me excited,” Till said. “You can’t just have it in your mind. You’ve got to speak openly about what you want to do. I always speak openly about what I want to achieve and what I want to do, and I want to achieve a first-round knockout of Masvidal.”
A result like that would certainly help drive Till toward a few more of his goals, as well. With a new champion atop the division, another title shot isn’t necessarily that far out of reach, and top contenders like Ben Askren and Colby Covington haven’t exactly been shy about mentioning his name, either.
Till admits he’s still frustrated that he didn’t win the title back in September, but he’s certainly not backing down on the predictions he has for the remainder of a still-budding career.
“I’m doing big things in the industry of MMA, and I’m becoming a bigger and bigger name quicker and people are taking notice,” Till said. “As I always say – in every interview, I say it – it’s a cliche, but I do want to be one of the best ever. This is definitely the right direction.
“In the fight game, it can’t all be highs. There’s highs and lows. My last one was a big low for me, and you just have to take it with a pinch of salt. For me, there’s a key word, and it’s ‘evolving.'”
To hear more from Till, check out the video above.