Following the cancellation of their bout which was set to take place in August, Darren Till from Liverpool, England, and Wilmington fighter Derek Brunson will finally get it on in the Middleweight division at UFC Fight Night on September 4th. When the two clash in the cage, "The Gorilla", as Englishman Till is known, will be anxious to make short work of wrestler Brunson and prove to the UFC's powers that be that he's still a title contender.
Despite the rescheduling of the bout, Till is still the favorite to win. The Muay Thai kickboxer has a history of injury, too - including a broken collarbone and a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) - but this hasn't changed the bookmakers' view of him. They still think he has what it takes to have his hand raised by the referee, with a moneyline of around -120, so the UFC odds are suggesting the Gorilla is the favorite.
On the blog of fighter B J Penn, Till is reported as planning to win the bout inside the first round. If so, it's the mark of a confident man. Besides BJ Penn, another fighter who will be following the matchup is "The Last Stylebender" Israel Adesanya. Till and Adesanya have been linked for a few years now. Adesanya is reported as having said he would like to fight Till on the Liverpudlian's home soil.
In July 2021, Till fought former champion Robert Whittaker in a five-round war at UFC Fight Night, in Abu Dhabi. Whittaker had previously lost the title to Adesanya at UFC 243, in October 2019, and since then, he's been looking to forge a path towards a title shot and regain the title in this tough division.
Back to Till versus Whittaker though and, unfortunately for Till, it was to be "The Reaper"'s night. Whittaker won by unanimous decision, a victory that would be crucial for him as it was the first time he'd stepped into the Octagon after his crushing defeat at the hands of The Last Stylebender.
Till may have felt hard done by. An elbow in the first round put Whittaker on the ground and it looked as if Till would start to control the rest of the fight. However, Whittaker came back in the second round, dropping Till with a mammoth right hand that had the blood running from his nose when he got back up. From there, Whittaker began to move through the gears, landing kicks and, in the final round, two grazing right hands.
Brunson looked good in his last fight, a dominant win by unanimous decision at UFC Vegas 22 that put a cruel end to Holland's streak of four fights with no losses and also the hype around Holland himself. Brunson was determined not to going be defeat number five.
The two fighters went the full five rounds, but Brunson gave the young, confident Holland a harsh schooling in life in the Octagon, by out-wrestling him and controlling him for most of the 25 minutes in the cage. As some observers have commented, Holland may have had the swagger and, on the night, the trash talk and fast, heavy hands, but he lacked takedown defense.
The previous year, in August, Brunson had also put a dent in the record of another up-and-coming fighter in the UFC, Edmen Shahbazyan. A technical knockout in the third round showed the young fighter what he was getting into when stepping inside the cage.
Many fans will also be looking forward to another huge event in the calendar: UFC 266, which takes place at the T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas. Possibly even more than the main event of Alexander Volkanovski versus Brian Ortega for the Featherweight title, fans will be eager to witness the return of Nick Diaz to the cage in the co-main event.
Diaz has been away from the cage for six years, following his loss to "The Spider" Anderson Silva in January 2015. In a non-title bout thought to be scheduled for five rounds, Diaz will go up against "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler in the Welterweight division. The two met up at UFC 47, all the way back in 2004, and Diaz won the encounter, stopping Lawler in the second round with a knockout.
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Seventeen years may have passed since that fight, but Lawler will still be feeling angry and even more ruthless than ever when he faces Diaz in September. "Ruthless" steps into the cage as the favorite, with betting lines of around -120 to 136, depending on who you bet with.
However, he enters the Octagon in this rematch with potentially a few doubters looking on and asking if his best days in the cage are behind him. Lawler has lost his last four fights in a losing streak that dates back to 2017.
Till versus Brunson is going to be an epic clash, both with something to prove: Till that he's still worthy of a title shot and Brunson that he can handle more experienced fighters. Roll on September 4th, when both fighters will get the chance to silence the doubters and catch the attention of all the right people.