Post-Fight Thoughts: Tyron Woodley -vs- Darren Till
Well, for all the nervous uncertainty I had prior to this fight, the way things played out inside the cage was a complete 180. Where I expected Till and Woodley to both be extremely reserved and conservative, only Till lived up to that assessment, whereas Woodley was alot more active. As I suggested in my Pre-Fight Thoughts article on this fight, I thought Woodley needed to wrestle a lot more in this fight, rather than roll the dice and opt for a purely striking contest, and it looks like that was in fact his plan.I was a bit alarmed that Dan Margliotta did not give Woodley much time to work in the clinch, but that's MMA officiating for you...
The first round was still fairly uneventful, though I was heartened by Woodley's approach and activity level. Darren Till was uncharacteristically passive, and not all of that could be attributed to Woodley's pressure and offence — Till simply wasn't make any attempt to go on the offensive. I assumed some of that was Till conserving energy; I don't care what a fighter or their coaches say about a weight cut, they are all draining and we know Darren's is a significant one, so that could have been a factor. All signs pointed to Woodley having the right gameplan and approach to this fight as the first round ended.
In the second frame, again Woodley took the lead and continued to pressure Till. There was a brief striking exchange and Woodley cracked Till with a punch that sent him reeling. Woodley followed Till down to the canvas and rained down some vicious, precision ground-and-pound — mostly in the form of elbows — and battered Till's face open. Till was strictly on the defensive from this point onward, trying to minimise the damage he incurred while Woodley loomed above, throwing elbows and looking to advance from full-guard. Eventially, Woodley was able to sneak Till into a D'Arce choke and force the contender to tap. A masterful performance from a champion who's been maligned as-of-late for being 'boring.'
When the dust settled, Darren Till had thrown no significant strikes and attempted no takedowns. For all intents and purposes, he went out there and got completely bullied by Tyron Woodley. I was never entirely sold on Till as a challenger, even if I afforded him the clich&eaccent;d Puncher's Chance. Tyron Woodley is clearly still in his athletic prime, and continues to improve in all facets of the MMA game. Woodley had not submitted anyone since 2009, and he earned his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt after submitting Till on the biggest stage in the sport. As a big fan of Woodley, it was incredible to see him remind people what he is capable of — and show some newly refined skills — in a fight where he was somehow the betting underdog despite being a tenured UFC champion.
Darren Till unfortunately loses a lot of steam after this performance, though he accepted defeat well in the post-fight presser and any time a mic was shoved in his lumped-up face. This was not Till's time, but there's no denying that he is a very capable fighter — this was just too much of a step-up in my estimation. I also think that Till would be better served moving up to middleweight, where he can spend less of his entire fight camp worrying about the weigh-ins. Till may not be the fastest fighter on the planet, but compared to the plodding ogres at 185, he'd be quite nimble and I doubt he'd lose any strength. If Till is willing to endure further cuts to 170, then he'll likely remain near the top of the division. For now, he should probably take a break.
This fight ended up being the perfect cap stone to an amazing pay-per-view event. UFC 228 was only minimally intriguing on paper and ended up delivering the most violent fight card in recent memory, and just after UFC Fight Night 135 offered up a similarly absurd number of finishes. UFC 228 had knockouts, submissions, a comeback, brawls, and two — not one but, yes, TWO — modified kneebars not seen since Kenny Robertson's appearance at UFC 157. Then, to top it all off, we got to see the exciting, pro-active version of Tyron Woodley just dismantle his opponent in under 2 rounds. These are the rare fight cards that bolster us jaded, tenured vets; UFC 228 was a stark reminder as to why we all watch these 7-hour events, and that the fighters themselves are often significantly underpaid.
As for what's next for both men, Woodley expressed immediate interest in fighting again at UFC 230, which still needs holes filled in the main card line-up. Dana White reportedly the left the arena as soon as Woodley stepped out of the cage — I'm sure he wasn't red or mad at all that one of his more assertive champions retained their belt. Woodley versus Covington is the most logical next fight anyway, so it's just a matter of determining the 'when' and 'where.' Till should take some time off and see who else is near the top of the rankings when he returns, hopefully they don't match him up with another lightweight in RDA...
Published: September 9th, 2018.