Has the UFC Found Their New Star?

Before the UFC’s event in the Polish city of Gdansk, Darren Till could walk through almost any street entirely unnoticed, but after a knockout win over the company’s #6 welterweight contender, fan favourite Donald Cerrone, the young man hailing from Liverpool could be primed for stardom.

It was a night which had all the hallmarks of a significant sporting moment. Till entered the arena as an underdog against a veteran of the sport, loudly proclaiming to be the best fighter alive. The confidence never appeared feigned, and in combat sports, the ability to predict a victory and then execute is a priceless commodity.

The performance was also noteworthy; Cerrone was totally overwhelmed, himself widely considered one of the best strikers in the sport. In the lead-up to the bout, the experienced campaigner claimed to be unaware of who his opponent was. Plenty of people now recognise exactly who Till is, and the importance of emerging contenders and personalities in the UFC cannot be understated.

2017 has been a difficult year for the UFC financially, with the company faltering due to a dearth of household names. Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor have both been absent, surrounded by uncertainty regarding their mixed martial arts futures.

The MMA community will undoubtedly be subject to a number of pretenders labelled as “The Next McGregor”. This is a difficult comparison, both due to McGregor’s exploits as an athlete, and his transcendence of the sport in profile. However, Till possesses many of the traits required to become a major star in his own right.

The Liverpudlian is an engaging and convincing speaker, blessed with youth and knockout potential. UFC President Dana White believes as much, referring to Till as “The Future” after this most recent victory. However, his meteoric rise, having made his MMA debut in 2013, means that he will be thrust into extremely difficult fights early in his career.

His next step will be important, but a loss in the UFC does not blemish a record in the same way as boxing, with all of MMA’s luminaries having been defeated at some point. The truly crucial question responds to any adversity in the octagon. If he can react well, the UFC could soon have another leading light to huddle around.

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