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If all goes according to plan, Darren Till will be due for a UFC title shot in his third middleweight appearance.
The Liverpool, England, native will lock horns with Robert Whittaker in the UFC on ESPN 14 headliner on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, and if he wins, he believes he’s the most logical No. 1 contender at 185 pounds.
“Look at my resume from welterweight and look at my resume at middleweight,” Till said during a virtual media session on Tuesday. “Look at the two guys I’m fighting in my debuts at middleweight. Of course I deserve a title shot.
“I’ve never campaigned…but I feel like the stars have aligned. I beat [Kelvin] Gastelum easily, and he gave [Israel] Adesanya the most trouble. And now Saturday I see myself beating Whittaker. I’ve beaten two of the best guys at middleweight. Where do you want me to go, do you want me to do backwards? … I beat Whittaker, I don’t want to hear any other name come out of anyone’s mouth apart from Israel Adesanya.”
Adesanya will reportedly square off against Paulo Henrique Costa at UFC 253 on Sept. 19. Till isn’t completely convinced that fight will take place as scheduled, so he plans on staying in the gym after Saturday’s fight vs. Whittaker.
“I don’t know if I see it [happening] yet. I’ll step in,” Till said. “If all goes well and I win, I’m gonna jump straight back into training and stay ready for September. Something could happen.”
Though Till doesn’t shy away from discussing his dreams in the middleweight division, he insists that he isn’t looking past Whittaker, a former champion who had a nine-bout winning streak snapped at the hands of Adesanya last October.
“I’m putting every ounce of energy and spirit and soul I’ve got into this fight,” Till said. “This fight means everything to me. Every fight I fight means everything to me. Obviously, I think about the belt and I think about fighting Adesanya and I think about fighting welterweight again, but when I’ve been in the gym, every ounce of energy, soul and spirit I’ve got has gone into beating Robert Whittaker. That’s all that matters right now.”
Till and Whittaker have been cordial leading up to their clash on Saturday, and “The Gorilla” attributes that to his opponent’s respectful nature.
“It’s just business. It’s just pure business,” Till said. “I’ve got no hard feelings toward him. I wish him all the best in his life and in his career and his family. I don’t see any fakeness inside him. I don’t see him put any act on. I feel like he’s real, and he’s a friendly guy even though he’s a beast inside the cage.
“If I win, I’m fighting Israel Adesanya and that’s all there is to it.”
It is far from a given that Adesanya will dispatch Costa at UFC 253, but Till believes it will benefit him if the Nigerian-born Kiwi successful defends his title in September. According to Till, it could also be lucrative business for the UFC.
“I just think it’s a bigger fight, me and Adesanya,” he said. “Obviously I don’t want to talk too much about Adesanya I’ve got a big, big person to fight on Saturday. I think that fight [vs. Adesanya] could be in the Top 10, Top 5 of UFC’s biggest-ever fights. That’s a fight that’s got to happen. If Costa wins I’ll make a fight with him and I’ll campaign for the fight against him. But we’ll see. Until see both of them guys weighing in Sept. , I’ll believe the fight’s happening.”
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