Predictions! Breaking Down ‘Till Vs Masvidal’
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is roughly 24 hours away from its UFC Fight Night 147 mixed martial arts (MMA) event, featuring welterweight “Gorilla,” Darren Till, going head-to-head with longtime 170-pound veteran, Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal, in the five-round main event this Sat. (March 16, 2019) inside O2 Arena in London, England.
Also throwing hands across the pond are welterweight co-headliners Gunnar Nelson and Leon Edwards. While the big talk in the 170-pound title chase revolves around the outcome of Till vs. Masvidal, a case can also be made for either “Gunni” or “Rocky” with a big finish on ESPN+, this weekend’s home for all the face-punching action.
Before we break down those two bouts, have a look at the rest of the UFC Fight Night 147 main card here, then deconstruct the ESPN+ “Prelims” here and here. All the odds and betting lines for this weekend’s action can be found here.
Let’s get to it.
170 lbs.: Darren Till vs. Jorge Masvidal
Darren “The Gorilla” Till
Record: 17-1-1 | Age: 26 | Betting line: -230
Wins: 10 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 5 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 6’0“ | Reach: 74” | Stance: Southpaw
Striking accuracy: 216 of 472 (46%) | Takedown attempts: 3 of 9 (33%)
Current Ranking: No. 3 | Last fight: Submission loss to Tyron Woodley
Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal
Record: 32-13 | Age: 34 | Betting line: +190
Wins: 13 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 17 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 10 DEC
Height: 5’11“ | Reach: 74” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 817 of 1703 (48%) | Takedown attempts: 15 of 29 (52%)
Current Ranking: No. 11 | Last fight: Decision loss to Stephen Thompson
Darren Till, in my unpopular opinion, has been fast-tracked to main event status over these last two years simply because he’s an entertaining character and one of few fighters who can draw in England. But his resume is weak and his performances leave a lot to be desired. While on paper, it would appear that beating No. 4-ranked Stephen Thompson is an impressive feat, the fight itself was awful and the decision could have easily been scored for “Wonderboy.” I also didn't go crazy for his technical knockout win over Donald Cerrone, because “Cowboy” didn’t watch any film on “The Gorilla” and walked into their headlining affair unable to pick Till out of a line up. Cerrone is also a natural lightweight with four losses at welterweight and zero wins over anyone in the Top 15 at 170 pounds.
Prior to that, Till padded his resume with emphatic wins over the likes of UFC washouts like Bojan Velickovic and Wendell de Oliveira Marques and his limitations were exposed when the promotion rushed him onto a welterweight title fight opposite Tyron Woodley. Till is more of a street fighter than a martial artist and that can only get you so far at the higher level.
That’s a lesson Jorge Masvidal learned early on, transitioning to professional cage fighting after cutting his teeth on the backyard barbecue circuit alongside the late Kimbo Slice. Keeping in line with the thinking that will annoy most fight fans, Masvidal is a vastly superior fighter to Till in terms of technical ability, but often has trouble putting it together inside the cage. “Gamebred” has been to the judges’ scorecards a staggering 27 times in his career, which makes me wonder what the hell he’s thinking inside the cage or what his goal is in terms of career advancement. What thing I can say for sure is that when he’s dialed in, Masvidal is one ... bad ... motherfucker, evidenced by violent finishes over Cezar Ferreira, Jake Ellenberger, and the aforementioned Cerrone. The counter to that, of course, is that none of those fighters are ranked in the Top 15 and those are his only finishes across a span of six years and 13 fights.
If Masvidal doesn’t press forward and force Till into uncomfortable positions, then I expect “The Gorilla” to try to box him at range, similar to the way Thompson did at UFC 217. “Gamebred” is really the X-Factor in the fight, because he may be content to sit back and try to win every exchange, as opposed to every round, and his wait-and-see attitude to striking could cost him on the cards against a longer, taller fighter. In addition, Till appears to have made weight with no physical issues, so five rounds suddenly doesn’t seem as scary. Considering the players, I believe this contest will be either fight of the decade or 25 minutes of nothing. Sadly, I’m leaning toward the latter.
Final prediction: Till def. Masvidal by split decision
170 lbs.: Leon Edwards vs. Gunnar Nelson
Leon “Rocky” Edwards
Record: 16-3 | Age: 27 | Betting line: -135
Wins: 6 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 7 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 6’0“ | Reach: 74” | Stance: Southpaw
Striking accuracy: 340 of 704 (48%) | Takedown attempts: 3 of 9 (29%)
Current Ranking: No. 10 | Last fight: Decision win over Donald Cerrone
Gunnar “Gunni” Nelson
Record: 17-3-1 | Age: 30 | Betting line: +115
Wins: 3 KO/TKO, 13 SUB, 1 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 5’11“ | Reach: 72” | Stance: Switch
Striking accuracy: 194 of 333 (58%) | Takedown attempts: 10 of 21 (57%)
Current Ranking: No. 13 | Last fight: Submission win over Alex Oliveira
Leon Edwards is not unlike Darren Till in many ways and for the purposes of this preview, faces many of the same criticisms. Six straight wins is nothing to sneeze at; however, two of those fighters are no longer in UFC because they weren’t good enough to stay. Knocking around a shopworn Donald Cerrone, who can’t crack the Top 15 at 170 pounds, is not the cap feather it was a few years ago. In fairness, I was impressed with the way he handled Bryan Barberena and Vincente Luque, two very tough outs for the welterweight division. “Rocky” brings a very well-rounded game into tomorrow’s co-main event and cardio will not be an issue across three rounds. The question for me, is how well he can adapt to Nelson’s unorthodox style.
While he gets most of his accolades for his jiu-jitsu, recently showcased in a bloody submission win over Alex Oliveira, Nelson is also a top-shelf striker with a sneaky style of offense. It does worry me that he’s more of a point fighter, like we used to see from the karate-based style of Lyoto Machida, and that won’t cut it against the power-punching elite (see Ponzinibbio, Santiago). I’m also worried about Nelson’s size. He’s clearly a lightweight but doesn’t want to cut weight (his words, not mine) and we’ve seen guys like Rick Story and Demian Maia push him around and shut down that Icelandic offense with some good old-fashioned grinding. That has to be taken into consideration when matching him up with Edwards from a purely physical standpoint.
I think this is Edwards fight to lose. The first round will take some time for “Rocky” to adjust to his opponent’s style, but once he does, it’s going to be difficult for “Gunni” to outwork his hometown foe. That’s assuming Edwards doesn’t do anything stupid like charge in with his head down, or carelessly hang out in guard like he’s thinking about the London afterparty. Nelson might be the better fighter, skill for skill, but Edwards is the busier fighter, and sometimes that’s what makes the difference.
Final prediction: Edwards def. Nelson by unanimous decision
There you have it.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 147 fight card on Saturday (click here), starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 1 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 4 p.m. ET.
For the complete UFC London fight card and line up click here.