The gap in experience between UFC Fight Night 118 headliners Darren Till and Donald Cerrone is glaring, but it isn’t as significant as one might think – at least according to the Englishman with four Octagon appearances under his belt.
“Fighting isn’t about age or experience; it’s about intelligence,” Till recently said. “I know I’m the most intelligent fighter out there. I don’t think he’s half the fighter I am, I really don’t.”
Cerrone has never held championship gold in the UFC or World Extreme Cagefighting, but he’s fought the best in the sport during his 35 bouts within those two promotions. The 34-year-old “Cowboy” enters the matchup on a two-fight skid after having lost to Robbie Lawler and Jorge Masvidal in his last two outings. Still, his resume is loaded with victories over notable names, including Matt Brown, Patrick Cote, Benson Henderson, Eddie Alvarez, Jim Miller, Edson Barboza, Evan Dunham and Jeremy Stephens, to name a few.
While Till doesn’t believe Cerrone is on his level, he still respects the achievements of the Jackson-Wink MMA standout.
“I’m still a fan of Cowboy. He’s everything you want from a fighter, that’s never going to change,” Till said. “I look up to him and I respect him but, come fight night, I have to put all that to one side and I’ll have to put my fist in his face. It’ll be no different to any other opponent.”
Till is unbeaten in 16 professional outings, with the only blemish on his ledger a majority draw against Nicolas Dalby at UFC Fight Night 76 in October 2015. He enters UFC Fight Night 118 on the strength of back-to-back triumphs over Jessin Ayari and Bojan Velickovic and expects to reach new heights against Cerrone.
“On Saturday, Cowboy will see a level that he has never ever seen in his career before,” he said.
“I’ve been training for 14 years for this. I’ve sacrificed so much, so on Saturday, it’s do or die. Saturday I go in there and make a big statement.”
Till expects to begin quickly, perhaps taking note of Cerrone’s penchant for slow starts throughout his career.
“The first round, I’m going to mentally break him, I know I am, and he’s going to start questioning himself more as the fight goes on,” Till said.
After earning a statement win against Cerrone, Till has big plans that include headlining a card in his native country and following in the footsteps of Michael Bisping.
“The dream is to headline in my home town. I want to be the first scouser to bring the UFC to Liverpool,” Till said. “Let’s get to the Echo Arena, let’s get me a Top 10 opponent -- that will be one of the most historical moments in my career.
“I have total faith and confidence in the fact that I’m going to be the next British UFC world champion.”