UFC London: Looking back on Darren Till's devastating defeat to Jorge Masvidal


You could have sworn the O2 Arena felt the reverberations of Jorge Masvidal's punch.

After a stellar card for the 2019 edition of UFC London - exclusively shown on BT Sport - the arrival of Darren Till was met with rapturous applause and the customary playing of 'Sweet Caroline' drummed up a tangible sense of anticipation. Yet, minutes later, that was all transformed into shock.

Till has become something of a cult hero in British MMA and with good reason, accumulating an impressive record of 17-0-1 and eventually earning himself a shot at the welterweight championship.

It would prove a turning point for the Liverpudlian, fighting in America for the first time and suffering defeat to Tyron Woodley. In truth, it was a real wake-up call for Till who - raised on a diet of Muay Thai in Brazil - had begun to make a real name for himself on British shores.

It's for that reason that returning in London seemed the perfect homecoming for the 'Gorilla', a healthy six months after vying to become just the second British champion in the UFC.

An eventful night in London

The only man to achieve such a feat - Michael Bisping - also made the journey to Greenwich, interacting with fans from the ESPN studio with his magnetic personality.

It would prove to be an emotional moment for the former middleweight champion who will be inducted into the UFC's illustrious Hall of Fame. However, it was perhaps a shame that the bouts surrounding the announcement were dogged by such controversy.

Dana White himself took to Instagram after Danny Roberts was said to have verbally tapped out against Claudio Silva - a decision that was met with confusion and then anger within the arena. 

Roberts himself would later write: "What I can’t understand is how the referee made such a bad call? The @UFC is the top promotion in the world, I am a top-class athlete and, for me, it is only right that the standard of refereeing should be the same and I’m thankful for @danawhite’s comments on this situation." 

Darren Till vs Jorge Masvidal

Meanwhile, Volkan Oezdemir can certainly count himself unlucky to lose against Dominick Reyes, coming up short on the scorecards despite dominating the opening two rounds.

Yet there was to be no such controversy when Till entered the octagon for the main event. In the build up to the fight, the 26-year-old had ditched the brash statements that reminded many of Conor McGregor and there was a real sense that he was out for redemption.

His opponent had certainly been underestimated by many and although those within the sport are familiar with Masvidal's power, there were concerns about his recent hiatus from the sport.

'Gamebred' boasts an unaesthetic 13 losses on his professional record and hadn't stepped into the cage since his 2017 defeat to Stephen Thompson.

Unsurprisingly, the crowd gave their full support to Till and it must have been impossible for him to avoid any extra doses of adrenaline. It felt like an eternity while both fighters overhead Bruce Buffer's classic introduction and digested the weight of the occasion.

UFC Fight Night Till v Masvidal

Knockout win for Masvidal

Many had expected Till to utilise his range during the fight and while his performance during the first round was certainly positive, he opened himself up to counters from Masvidal.

It was a trend that would unfold into a devastating conclusion during the second round and left Till with a defeat from which he may never truly recover.

Despite eating up a number of punches earlier in the fight, there was no chance that Till could stomach the bout-deciding blow.

Masvidal rocked his opponent with a straight left hand, failed to make clean contact with his right but teed up a devastating hook to the temple. The 'Gorilla' seemed to be out on his feet, thumping down to the canvas and was saved by the referee from further punishment.

There was a brief gasp at the severity of the knockout, before an acceptance that Till had suffered his second consecutive defeat and in truly destructive fashion.

UFC Fight Night Till v Masvidal

What next for Till?

If the loss to Woodley, in which there is no real shame, was enough to quell the fighting talk, being sent to the canvas by 'Gamebred' will certainly have delivered a reality check.

The British crowd was pleased to see Till raised to his feet and healthy upon medical attention, while showing their respect to the winner on the night.

It was a crushing reminder of just how unforgiving MMA can be - sending Till from the heights of a title shot to the obscurity of two losses, at the same speed with which the crowd moved from excitement to shock.

There's no doubting Till's quality and you can bet he'll be back in action later on this year. Yet, on a night where everything was poised for his triumphant return, missing that opportunity will make the road to redemption that extra bit harder.

UFC Fight Night Till v Masvidal

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