Never in its 25-year existence has the Ultimate Fighting Championship hosted an event in Liverpool. Now, following the emergence of hot prospects across multiple weight divisions, the biggest promotion in MMA is on the way to Merseyside.
The UFC announced their debut in Liverpool set for May 27th, just a day after the Champions League final – a fixture Liverpool FC have the chance to be involved in.
Headlining the card will be surging welterweight and Liverpool native – Darren Till.Embed from Getty Images
Currently undefeated in his professional career, Till has enjoyed a rapid rise to the top of the 170lb division. Wins over Jessin Ayari and Bojan Velickovic gave Till the opportunity to the main event in Poland against UFC legend, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone.
The 25-year-old was victorious via first-round knockout, earning him a performance of the night bonus and propelling him into the welterweight rankings.
Ranked at #7, Till hasn’t fought since; with illness preventing his comeback, and his opponent at UFC Liverpool is still undecided.
We take a look at some potential opponents for his hometown show…
STEPHEN THOMPSONEmbed from Getty Images
Till has been vocal in calling for a fight with former title challenger, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, since his win over Cerrone. Thompson is currently the #1 ranked welterweight but failed twice at dethroning champion, Tyron Woodley. He responded with a win over Jorge Masvidal at UFC 217 but hasn’t fought since following surgery. To gain another shot at Woodley, Thompson needs to add another high profile name to his record. Till vs Thompson would be a dream matchup for fans between two of the best strikers in the division. It’s the fight Till wants, but he doesn’t expect ‘Wonderboy’ to accept.
GUNNAR NELSONEmbed from Getty Images
UFC Dublin was rumoured to take place in May, but it seems Liverpool will play host instead. SBG Ireland founder, John Kavanagh, has been campaigning for the UFC to book Till against SBG’s Icelandic welterweight, Gunnar Nelson. Nelson hasn’t fought since his controversial knockout loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio where he suffered multiple eye pokes before being finished. The pair went back and forth on Twitter to try and get the fight booked. However, Till believes Nelson needs to get another win under his belt before meeting him in the cage.
RAFAEL DOS ANJOSEmbed from Getty Images
Another fight Till has called for is a clash with the former lightweight champion – Rafael Dos Anjos. Following a stabbing in a nightclub, Till moved to Brazil for a number of years and has a loyal South American following. Dos Anjos has picked up three straight victories since moving up to 170lbs, most recently over former champ – Robbie Lawler. His winning streak has propelled him into title contention, but Woodley is yet to return following surgery. RDA is expected to wait until Woodley is recovered in hopes of a title shot.
COLBY COVINGTONEmbed from Getty Images
Currently sitting at third in the welterweight rankings, Colby Covington is another option for Till. The American has raised plenty of eyebrows with his brash nature and constant trash talk. Following his win over Demian Maia, he abused the Brazilian fans which led them to spam Till’s social media pages ordering him to ‘kill’ Covington. He has seemed content to wait for a shot at the title but is probably another win away from a crack at the gold. A matchup with Till on foreign soil may not be in his best interests with Till convinced he wants nothing to do with him.
OTHER POSSIBLE OPPONENTS
Another dream matchup for fans if the bout came to fruition. Lawler is the former champion and a multiple fights of the night bonus recipient. His style would provide fireworks for the Liverpool crowd, and a win for Till would shoot him into title contention. Lawler is recovering from an injury which could rule him out but never say never.
Jorge Masvidal’s name has been mentioned, and Till seemed content to throw down with the Miami native. Reports suggest ‘Gamebred’ would be interested in the fight, but the date doesn’t fight his time scale.
Has called out Till in the past but looks set to headline the UFC’s first event in Chile.
Who would you like to see Darren Till face at UFC Liverpool? Comment below!