Darren Till has warned Derek Brunson he will face a ‘different animal’ on Saturday when they meet in the main event of UFC Fight Night 191 in Las Vegas.
Brunson (22-7), 37, of Wilmington, North Carolina, seems to have struck a purple patch in his career, which has coincided with his decision to leave Jackson Wink MMA for Sanford MMA.
After being knocked out by Israel Adesanya in the first round in November 2018, he then rebounded with a pair of decision wins over Ian Heinisch and Elias Theodorou, and has also reeled off back-to-back wins over highly-touted prospects Kevin Holland and Edmen Shahbazyan.
But he will face a new challenge in the form of Liverpool-born British MMA fighter Till, who was on the wrong end of a split decision to Robert Whittaker in Abu Dhabi in July of last year.
“Yeah, I think he’s class,” Till told reporters at a press conference in Las Vegas.
“I mean, I know he was out here saying that I DM him everyday and that’s what I do do, man, I keep it interesting, one day I’m wishing his family well and the next day I’m just talking s— to him, I just keep it interesting.
“Listen, I’ve got nothing towards Derek, I think he’s a nice guy, I like his team, I like his management.
“He’s here to do a job Saturday, he’s been doing a job more than me, he’s been beating these guys, but I’ll keep saying it – this is no disrespect to anyone, but I ain’t no Kevin Holland, I ain’t no Edmen Shahbazyan, like, I’m a different animal coming in there Saturday.
“I’ve got fight IQ, I’m getting more ferocious with age and it seems like he’s getting better with age, I know he’s 37, 38, but it seems like blond Brunson is the f—— man, mate.
“I’m prepared for Saturday, mate, I’ve done all my work, I’ve done all my pads, all my sparring, and I’m ready for whatever comes.”
Till (18-3-1), 28, of Liverpool, England, who is trained by Colin Heron, admits he feels relieved to be fighting again after a turbulent couple of months.
The 28-year-old Englishman was scheduled to face Marvin Vettori at the UFC Apex on April 10.
However, it was announced on April 3 that Till was forced to withdraw from the bout due to an injury. He was replaced by Holland, who lost a unanimous decision to Vettori.
“I’m just happy to be here,” said Till.
“It’s tough, it’s tough to like have injuries and go through camps and spend a lot of money and, you know, obviously have to pull out.
“I mean my last fight was very unfortunate, because it was only like two or three weeks before when I broke my collarbone, I mean if it was ten weeks before the fight I broke my collarbone I was definitely still fighting.
“It reminds me a lot of when Dominick Cruz was getting a lot of setbacks and getting lots of injuries, you’ve just got to come through them, man, you’ve just got to come through them, and here I am, you know a few days before it, and I’m a very happy man.”
Till evidently has his work cut out for him.
But he will stop at nothing to get the result and achieve his goals.
“It’s been a test, obviously, but it’s just a testament to my will, like, this is the truth, even this camp I’ve had injuries,” he added when asked if this has been the toughest stretch of his career.
“I think I speak for every fighter, we all get our injuries, it’s just how you get through them.
“But as time goes on now, and as I’m getting older and as I’m getting wiser hopefully, I’ve got a purpose in life, and I keep saying this all week.
“I wake up with purpose, I know where I want and what I want to be and who I am, you know, all that stuff together, it’s just like I’m out for something and I’m not going to stop until I get it.
“So no injury, no whatever can stop me on this little journey I’m on, it’s my journey and there’s people that come off it and come on it, sort of like the hype train thing, but I’m driving towards it, and I’ve got so much motivation for it.
“I was looking forward to a London event, you know, sold out, packed out after Covid and all these big names on the card like myself, a lot of Scousers on the card this week.
“And then I see names dropping out like Paul Craig, Gustaffsson, Lerone Murphy, so it’s tough and it’s challenging, it might be tough and challenging for other people.
“But let’s get one thing straight, I’m here to f—— fight, and I’m going to fight Saturday, that’s all that I’m here for.”
Catch UFC FIGHT NIGHT ®: BRUNSON vs. TILL at Prime Time on Saturday night with the main card live from 9.00pm on BT Sport 2, with the early prelims live exclusively on Fight Pass from 6.30pm.