Darren Till is finally explaining the reason(s) he asked to be released from his contract by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans were left in shocked disappointment when the popular Liverpudlian was abruptly removed from UFC’s roster. That disappointment turned to confusion when Till posted a vague tweet about requesting the release because he needed to, “sort some other s— for the foreseeable.”
Now, in a lengthy new interview with ESPN, “The Gorilla” revealed he’s opting for what we are dubbing “The McGregor Rehab Protocol” — leave United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) drug testing pool so doctors can shoot him full of all the best stuff modern medicine has to offer. But, unlike Conor McGregor, Till had to leave UFC completely to do it, and will have to earn his way back in.
“I want to get some injections on my knee and stuff like that,” Till said in an extensive interview with ESPN. “I really want to take care of my knees. But, I was like some of the stuff I’m injecting into my knee, am I going to pass some of the tests and stuff like that? There’s a lot of hurdles to get past. I was like, maybe I could get surgery, stuff like that.”
Till revealed that he hadn’t been healthy since the Robert Whittaker fight and UFC executives were constantly telling him to stop fighting injured. While he felt like he had a good camp coming into his latest loss against Dricus Du Plessis, his knees still weren’t good enough to let him grapple.
“We went back-and-forth over a period of three years,” Till explained. “After my last fight I spoke to them and said, ‘Listen, this is so stupid again on my part. I had a good camp, but I didn’t grapple enough because me knees’ ... I said, ‘Listen, Hunter, I’ve had the thought. Maybe I could give myself two years off from UFC and maybe come back after two years, see what’s out there over two years, see what I can do to really make me body healthy and stuff like that.’
“His reply was, ‘Listen, Till. I’ll support you like I always have ... But you know we’re not in the habit of bringing people back into the UFC,’” Till continued. “I was like, ‘Well I understand’ but in my head I was thinking, ‘Your opinion will change in two years.’ I’m not asking to be released from the UFC to foot off the ball, I’m asking to be released to make a statement outside and come back.”
Till had a wild ride up the UFC ladder, coming into the promotion with a perfect record (12-0) and then going 4-0-1 en route to a Welterweight title shot against Tyron Woodley in 2018. He lost that fight, and then the follow-up to Jorge Masvidal in London. A 2019 win over Kelvin Gastelum was his last, and since then he’s suffered three losses in a row and five fights canceled because of injury.
It’s interesting to see a fighter admit to leaving UFC to get treatment he or she wouldn’t be able to receive under USADA. It certainly adds another wrinkle to the performance-enhancing drugs debate, and whether UFC athletes are being forced to choose between getting the best medical care for their injuries or losing their jobs.
What do you think of Till’s decision to walk away from UFC to get treatment on his knees, Maniacs?