Unfortunately there will only be one title fight on show at UFC 228 in Dallas, Texas tonight after Nicco Montano pulled out of her championship defence against Valentina Shevchenko.
BUT, that does leave us with the monster welterweight title fight between champion Tyron Woodley, who is making his long-awaited return to the Octagon, and Liverpool striker Darren Till.
As always, I’ll be giving you my main event picks and 5Dimes will be providing the odds.
UFC Welterweight championship fight: Tyron Woodley vs. Darren Till:
For some reason Tyron Woodley has almost always failed to get over as 170lb champion. When he was the challenger he was hyped and loved, but as champion its almost a complete reverse. It doesn’t help his cause that he has competed in three of the drabbest fights that you could ever wish to avoid. From his first defence, a draw with Stephen Thompson, to the rematch which was another turgid affair, the consensus was that no fight could be as dreary as those. We were wrong.
The most tactical, evasive and non-threatening title bout followed as Demian Maia tried to grapple with Woodley. It was a fight that set a record for the least amount of strikes thrown and landed. Woodley has been out of action for almost 14 months since that fight, and he still has his back to the wall. He needs a win, and he needs a spectacular performance to go with it.
Much has been written about the background of Darren Till. From the tough streets of Merseyside to the tougher streets of Brazil and back again, Till has evolved as a fighter and finds himself on the cusp of greatness. Unbeaten as a professional fighter he is 4-0 since the only blemish on his record, a draw with Nicolas Dalby where he picked up a shoulder injury sidelined him for 18 months.
In a little over a year he has amassed four wins, including a dominant performance over Donald Cerrone and a grinding decision over Stephen Thompson. The win over Thompson was tainted by the weight cut where Till missed by nearly 4lbs, having to make 188lbs by noon the following day for the fight to go ahead. Till won a slightly contentious decision in the Liverpool Echo Arena and secured the title shot when Colby Covington declined.
Its taken me a while to warm to the prospect of Darren Till as a legit contender and every time I’ve doubted him he has proved me wrong. So, this time I am firmly aboard the Till train and hope that he rides out of Dallas, Texas to a chorus of ‘Sweet Caroline’ by Neil Diamond whilst holding the belt aloft. If he does it then I think he does it early and catches Woodley a little cold, much in the same manner that Woodley did to Robbie Lawler. And I’ll go out on a limb and say that he does it in the first too.
Recommendation: Darren Till Inside the Distance – 2 units at +160 (8/5) @ 5Dimes