There’s some stuff Darren Till couldn’t get away with saying before beating Donald Cerrone that he can now get away with saying; some stuff that wouldn’t have made sense before beating Donald Cerrone that now makes sense; some stuff that would have seemed ridiculous back then, but now seems somewhat plausible.
In MMA, that’s the beauty of walking the walk.
England’s Till did plenty of talking in the run-up to his October 21 fight with ‘Cowboy’, but the weight and power of his words today, two weeks on, could only have come about as a result of slaying Cerrone inside a round.
Now people listen. Now people wonder how far Till, a man who earlier this year told Fighters Only he aspired to become the Muhammad Ali of MMA, can actually go. It’s why there is all of a sudden great interest in his next fight and the identity of his next opponent.
“Mike Perry was definitely a name on everyone’s lips going into that (Cerrone) fight,” Till, 16-0-1, told FO. “People moan that he’s not in the rankings but it doesn’t f**king matter. I’d like to fight the c**t. If I want the fight, it will happen.
“It’s a good fight. He’s aggressive and brings a good style. The only problem is he’s too small for my division. I am the biggest welterweight in the world right now and nobody can handle my power. It’s different when you’re in there with me. I am such a powerful person.”
Another potential opponent, Stephen Thompson, fights this Saturday against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 217. That, Till says, would be a fight of great interest to him. (Indeed, it’s one he has actively pursued on social media link.)
“The Stephen Thompson fight is very interesting to me because he’s such a good karate fighter and has beaten some good guys,” says the 24-year-old. “He’s clever, he’s smart, he’s respectful. He seems to have a good character. I think we make for a good fight. He can take a punch and give a punch. But let’s see if he can deal with what I bring, which is nasty, nasty pain and viciousness. I’ll wear him down and knock him out.”
A month ago the MMA world would have laughed in the face of Darren Till’s hubris. Now, there’s at least pause for thought.
What a difference a first-round KO of Donald Cerrone makes.
*** An in-depth Darren Till feature will appear in the Holiday 2017 issue of Fighters Only magazine ***