Donald Cerrone knows how to take both wins and losses. The veteran of scores of mixed martial arts contests, he has seen and experienced it all. So when young prospect Darren Till elevated his own game and knocked Cerrone out in the first round, “the Cowboy” didn’t bother making excuses. He posted two photos to his Instagram, the second an X-Ray image showing his nose shattered into what appears to be at least four pieces. This was his caption:
One hell of a job @darrentill2 safe to say you broke the fuck out my nose !!! I don’t make excuses nor will I ever. You had a great game plan and executed it perfectly. I did not over look nor take you lightly. So again congratulations.
The fight seemed universally recognized as a watershed moment in the welterweight division. Darren Till is only 24, a decade younger than Cerrone. He seemed physically bigger and more imposing in the Octagon, cutting off the cage and unleashing a snapping jab and vicious straight left. A one-two rocked Cerrone and Till dove on the opening, unleashing a razor of an elbow and a hard combination that put Cerrone down. Even Dana White was impressed, calling Till “The Future,” which seems like a more fitting nickname than “the Gorilla”.
Comparisons to McGregor seem facile, but Liverpool native Till does share some characteristics with the Irishman. Still undefeated, he proclaimed himself the best striker in the welterweight division, nay, the entire UFC; then promptly sprinted to the edge of the cage to shout in Mike Perry’s face. It was a golden moment of promotion, one that made us wonder why the UFC had bothered booking Perry last week, only to have him sit as a guest fighter here. Till’s charisma, stance, straight left, bad tattoos, and his cage pressure all echo McGregor. If anything, Till is more technical, not over-committing to his lightning left hand. He has a lot more to prove, but yesterday, he showed us his potential, and it clearly left dollar signs in Dana White’s eyes.
Cerrone, on the other hand, will need to evaluate the state of his fighting career. It says a lot about him that this is the worst skid he’s faced in the UFC; while his last loss to Robbie Lawler was a split decision and could easily have gone the other way, Till is the kind of young prospect he would normally be expected to school. He could easily shake this off and keep fighting (once his nose heals), but Cerrone isn’t short on options. He works high-paying gigs as a stuntman and could easily shift his attention to those, full-time. He owns a gym on his functioning ranch, and he’s a resourceful guy. It’s too early to say he’s done; but it might finally be the beginning of the twilight of his career. Unlike Mike Perry, not everyone plans on fighting till they are dead.