Darren Till left it all in the cage on Saturday night, and an early injury may keep him out of it for the foreseeable future.
Although a bruised-up Till said he felt fine afterward, he admitted at the evening’s post-fight presser that he suffered a knee injury during the fight.
“I don’t like to sit here and I’m not the type [to make] excuses, but I have to give credit to Rob in the second round,” Till said when asked if there were issues with his leg. “He knee stomped me, like I did to Stephen Thompson—They should be illegal (laughs)—It just blew my knee, like my knee just went *pwooo* under me, crashed. That was it then for the whole fight. I just had to stay static and sort of just fight on it.
“I hid the pain even, I don’t think he recognized. But I was still in there. I’m not trying to sit here and say, ‘Oh me knee gone,’ whatever. Maybe it just stopped me bouncing a bit, but it was a real good fight. I feel like I won it. I feel like we both won the fight—I’m not saying I feel like I won it, it’s just we both won. It was a clinically great match.”
As far as how he plans to address the injury, Till couldn’t speak on its severity, though he said he expects to have to undergo surgery at some point.
“Probably gonna get a little bit of surgery now,” he said. “That’s nothing. I want to get back in the gym. Fix that, get back in the gym, and there’s million of fights out there for me, and I’m one of the top guys in this organization and I’m gonna continue to be.”
With his second straight strong showing against an elite middleweight (Till earned a split nod over Kelvin Gastelum in his UFC debut at 185 pounds in November), “The Gorilla” appears to have plenty of options in a division that is currently filled with fresh challengers as well as big name veterans.
He’s interested in heading into Whittaker’s territory for a rematch and also still intends to fight current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. However, for now, he’s content to heal up and bask in the glow of a competitive headlining fight.
“There’s a few fights there,” Till said. “If Rob doesn’t get a title shot, I’d love to go to New Zealand and fight Rob again. I really enjoyed the fight with him. I was fit for five rounds. That’s all thanks to my coach Colin and my team and my family and my close friends. Colin gets me ready for every fight and I was ready for this fight.
“Maybe I lacked a few things that we worked on in the gym and it’s a little bit disappointing. But I say this here convincingly, I am gonna be a champion. These are are all just little walls that you face, but it’s not like I lost and I’m thinking, ‘Awwww.’ Either man could have won that fight tonight. I was the guy, I was the more powerful guy, I was landing the more powerful shots, Rob was the busier guy. That’s just sometimes how the fight is. Some judges could see the power shots in the fight, and other judges like tonight saw the busier fighter won the fight. I just thought we both won. He obviously won, but in my mind we both won.”