STRATEGIC ASSESSMENT-New York. When Darren Till announced he requested a release from the UFC, the only reason he gave for doing so was to ‘sort some other s—t [out] for the foreseeable’.
Though originally vague on what ‘some other s—t’ was, Till has since revealed that injuries he has been dealing with since his loss to Robert Whittaker at UFC Fight Island 3 nearly three years ago are still plaguing him. At the time, the ‘Gorilla’ expected to get surgery to repair a torn MCL, but that was only the first of several injuries he’s had to endure.
“Basically I’ve been suffering for the past two years, and it’s no secret I think now, at this point,” said Till in a recent interview with Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie. “Obviously, I’ve been speaking to [UFC Chief Business Officer] Hunter [Campbell] ever since my [Robert] Whittaker fight where I injured my knees. He’s been going crazy at me for like two years. He’s like, ‘Till, I can’t take much more of this.’ He’s like, ‘I’ve got your back, I know you’re going to be a champ.’ Stuff like that he says to me. But he’s like, ‘You need to get your knees right.’ He said this before my last fight, and said it before the fight before that.”
In his past two fights against Derek Brunson and Dricus du Plessis, the welterweight-turned-middleweight contender admitted he was still injured heading into them. As for why he accepted those fights, Till was honest in saying it was because of ‘stupidity’.
“I’ve got a torn ACL in my right knee,” said Till. “In the Whittaker fight, I tore my MCL. And then eight weeks before I fought Derek Brunson, I tore my ACL in the same knee, and the other one is a torn MCL. So, the other one’s not that bad, but the right one, a torn ACL, you don’t get no worse. Every grade is tore.
“So I’ve been trying to convince myself that I’m okay when I’m not,” continued Till. “So I need to go off and do some rigorous f—king stuff with my body, and obviously, the mental side comes into it a little bit.”
Despite Till having several fight cancellations due to injuries recently, he felt he could compete with Du Plessis at UFC 282 this past December. He did some stem cell treatments and felt good with his striking.
But when it came to his grappling, the 30-year-old said his knee was still giving out on him. Because of that, he had to limit the amount of time he could train on the mats. Till went on to lose to ’Stillknocks’ by third-round submission.
“I kind of just neglected the grappling because simply, at this point now in my career, I just can’t grapple until I fix what’s wrong,” said Till. “So I went in there probably 80 percent prepared again, and obviously took a loss that I don’t feel like I should have took.”
Now that he has departed from the UFC, Till has laid out his next moves. After undergoing surgery on his knees and entertaining a ‘few striking matches,’ the Liverpudlian expects to return to the UFC in two or three years (Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016/www.bloodyelbow.com)