After a dramatic missed weight cut put the main event of Liverpool’s first UFC event in jeopardy, heavy-hitter Darren Till made the catchweight amount and took on perennial contender Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in a calculated battle for the top of the welterweight rankings.
The match, like most of Thompson’s fights, was highly technical as he drew Till in with feints and footwork to take the Englishman out of his powerful, overwhelming ways. Till has 10 knockouts, and he’s never got into a swinging match he didn’t like, but with Thompson, both men were picking their shots and being careful. Anything could end this. One wrong move, one open space.
The first ten minutes were likely Thompson’s, but he keeps fights close (as we’ve seen in his two fights against Tyron Woodley for the belt). In the third round, however, both men started opening up and each landed their best shots of the fight thus far. Going into the fourth, Till knew he had the hometown crowd on his side, but Thompson was controlling the action and neutralizing Till’s dynamite fists with kicks to create distance. This was anyone’s to take.
In the fourth, Till finally got Thompson in his grasp and up against the fence after much trying. A hard elbow possibly won the round for him, but the significant strike count was damn near even heading into the fifth round. This was extremely close, and Till rocks Thompson with minutes remaining to possibly steal the fight. He certainly celebrated after 25 minutes were up as if he won.
The judges read the scorecards, and it is indeed Till by unanimous decision. An extremely, extremely close unanimous decision, and one that people may argue about, but Thompson doesn’t do himself favors by not pressing the action and counter-fighting. His karate style is truly a thing of beauty, but he’s lost three big fights thanks to the judges. He needs a finish or three if he wants to get back near the belt again.
In this UFC game of thrones, things are getting interesting.