Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight heavy hitters Tyron Woodley and Darren Till clashed last night (Sept. 8, 2018) at UFC 228 inside American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Woodley is a strange fighter in a strange situation. What other high-level opponent chooses to frequently fight with his back to the fence? What other decorated wrestler with massive punching power and multiple title defenses opens as an underdog to an unproven kickboxer?
“T-Wood” stands alone.
On the other hand, Till entered with many questions still surrounding his game despite his eighteen professional fights and undefeated record. At the same time, Till did have that unique confidence of champions, the type that inspires viewers to believe in his abilities as much as he does.
Woodley opened the fight with more aggression than he’s shown in his previous three, dancing loosely before springing forward into a flurry. A couple punches landed clean, but the more pivotal implication was that Woodley landed in double underhooks. Absurdly, the referee broke them up way too quickly.
From the outside, Woodley did a nice job of darting in-and-out while Till stalked. The Englishman was very patient, doing little more than move forward for much of the round. On the bright side, Till defended Woodley’s second takedown attempt just as smoothly as the first, pulling Woodley off the single leg and into the clinch.
Till finally threw a couple hard strikes near the end of the round, but he clearly lost the uneventful opening round.
Till came out in the second and attempt to work a combination, but Woodley ran him into a massive right hand that floored the Englishman. “The Gorilla” was badly rocked, and Woodley added to that with a half dozen brutal elbows from top position. Somehow, Till managed to survive, but his opponent was postured over him in good position.
From half guard, Woodley continued to work elbows on the kickboxer. When Till tried to sit up with an underhook from half guard, Woodley applied pressure to a whizzer and hammered away with his free hand. Till stayed in that terrible position for way too long, which allowed Woodley to swim his arm through deep after a solid 90 seconds of hard elbows.
He then locked up a d’arce choke that seemed a bit shallow, but Woodley hooked the leg and sat through perfectly. Plus, that’s a strong man to have squeezing on your neck.
Woodley secured another title defense with an unexpected tap out.
Of all Woodley’s title wins, this was by far the most impressive to me. Every part of his game plan worked — never giving Till an easy target, bursting forward with hard strikes, and eventually timing a counter. Notably, Woodley never rested in one spot along the fence, as he kept moving and forced Till to approach.
Despite Till’s patience, the Englishman walked into a brutal right hand.
After hurting Till, Woodley’s finishing instincts were on display. His elbows from full guard were crushing and nearly ended the bout, but once it was clear that Till would survive the initial attack, Woodley adjusted. He began working towards more dominant positions while still dealing damage, and that set up the eventual d’arce choke.
Truly an excellent performance from “T-Wood.”
As for Till, he never managed to do much of anything besides stop a couple takedown attempts. To me, the lack of left kicks was absolutely baffling. As Joe Rogan pointed out, Till and Woodley actually had the same reach despite Till’s massive size and height advantage. Where is all that extra length? In his legs!
The left round kick to the head and left snap/front kick to the body should have been obvious weapons for Till. Both do damage, can be fire from a range difficult for the shorter man to land from, and are very hard to counter with takedowns. That should have been Till’s primary distance tool as he found the range on his left hand and kept Woodley back, but Till instead largely boxed with the faster man.
Perhaps Till would’ve kicked more once relaxing into the fight, but giving away the first five minutes with zero activity was a poor choice as well.
Last night, Tyron Woodley dropped and strangled his latest challenger. How do you see Woodley’s title unification bout with Colby Covington playing out?
For complete UFC 228: “Woodley vs. Till” results and play-by-play, click HERE!