Robert Whittaker vs Darren Till
Robert Whittaker (-115) (21-5-0)
Whittaker will be returning to the octagon for the first time since losing the middleweight title to Israel Adesanya around a year ago. He took two months away from training completely and he feels it’s given him time to recover physically and mentally. Before that loss, he was on a 9-fight winning streak and coming off back-to-back wins over Yoel Romero. Those 10-rounds against Romero took a lot out of him and I think Adesanya’s rise in the division had put a lot of pressure on him going into that matchup. Whittaker was reckless and even though he used his jab and left hook effectively at times, he took too much damage doing so. I expect him to learn from that loss and be a bit more patient against Darren Till.
Darren Till (-115) (18-2-1)
Till was able to get past Kelvin Gastelum with a split-decision in his middleweight debut. Prior to that he had suffered back-to-back losses, ending all of the momentum he had captured to get to the top of the welterweight division. He was dropped and submitted by Tyron Woodley and then knocked out by Jorge Masvidal. He was a lot more patient against Gastelum, but almost to a fault. He’s a powerful, imposing striker, but he doesn’t throw enough volume and he depends too much on his left hand. He will need to show a more dynamic striking game and better defense in order to get past the former champ.
Prediction: Robert Whittaker via Decision
What’s Darren Till’s best win? The decisions over Kelvin Gastelum and Stephen Thompson could’ve gone either way. I guess the knockout over Cowboy Cerrone? The loss to Tyron Woodley was understandable at the time, but it looks really bad now. He did have some success against Masvidal in the 1st round, but once Masvidal settled in from his 17 month layoff, he ended up knocking him out in the 2nd.
Robert Whittaker’s long jab and overhand left hook are going to give Till a lot of problems. Till has a tendency to keep his chin up and he goes back on a straight line. Woodley and Masvidal were both able to blitz their way inside and land big overhand shots and that’s exactly what Whittaker will be looking to do. Whittaker is the more well-rounded fighter and he could even decide to mix some grappling into the gameplan. I expect him to take advantage of the holes in Till’s defense and to avoid the big left hand coming from Till. Take Whittaker to get back on track.