Darren Till is as real as it gets.
In perhaps one of the most honest UFC post-fight interviews to date, the Liverpudlian opened up about his demons heading into UFC 244 and admitted he considered faking an injury to pull out of the Gastelum bout.
The former UFC welterweight title challenger says he was ‘terrified’ of suffering another loss after dropping back-to-back stoppage defeats to Tyron Woodley and Jorge Masvidal.
“There were times when I thought, ‘This fight’s not happening.’ I know there was a lot given over the weight cut video with Kelvin and that, but Kelvin probably just thought, ‘F*ck this, I’m gonna eat some s*it because he’s not turning up.’ And there was times when I just wanted to do it myself,” Till said after beating Gastelum via split decision in the UFC 244 co-main event at Madison Square Garden (h/t Alexander K. Lee of MMA Fighting).
“So there was that and then I knew there was gonna be jet lag and I knew there was gonna be water retention for weight cutting. I didn’t know if the fight was happening and I had a few injuries and it’s just like that didn’t mean anything to me. I wanted to just get in there. I didn’t want to win. I didn’t want to lose. I just wanted to be in there and I don’t even know, I can’t say, it’s like I’ve been invincible all my life. I know my skill set I’ve got, I know I can beat any guy in any division, I know that with my skill set, you’ve seen that tonight. No. 4 Kelvin, look at the guys he’s knocking out. I know it wasn’t the most exciting fight, but he didn’t touch me, he just simply didn’t touch me and that’s no disrespect to him. That just shows my skill set.”
(Also worth watching is Till’s incredibly raw and emotional post-fight interview with Adam Catterall of BT Sports)
“But before [Tyron] Woodley there was no guy that could beat me and then two losses like that, it just took a lot away from me, inside of me. I didn’t say it, but I fought some hard demons and then obviously stuff like getting arrested and you lose sponsors, it’s like a f*cking whirlwind and it’s good and it’s bad,” he continued. “I tell ya, I was trying to fake an injury before walking out, I was thinking of an injury to fake because I just simply did not want to get in there. And this is probably things fighters don’t talk about, but you know me, I’m honest and that’s just where I was at. Now I’m here, confidence is back, like f*ck all these middleweights, I’m coming for everyone. It’s back.”
Till suffered a knee injury in the lead-up to the Gastelum bout but the 26-year-old doesn’t think it will be much of a problem going forward.
“Since Cowboy, I’ve just sort of put it to the back of my mind,” Till said of his lingering knee injury”. “I wrestle, I do everything with it, I stretch it, put it behind my head, I’m a flexible guy,” Till said. “It’s swelled up a little bit. This is what I always do, I’ll ice it and when it feels good I’ll just, ‘Okay, f*ck that,’ I’m probably gonna leave it, to be honest with you.
“Most fighters feeling this right now would probably get surgery, but this is not a telltale for fighters to kick me because I can take low kicks, trust me. Ex-Muay Thai fighter, but we’ll see. It’s not that bad.”
UFC 244 marked Till’s middleweight debut and, after earning a solid a win over the No. 4-ranked Gastelum, expect the British fan favorite to soon crack the UFC’s top-five.
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