Darren Till cut it close, but he eventually made it to New York City last week to face Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 244 inside Madison Square Garden after visa issues briefly put the bout in limbo.
“Gorilla,” however, was able to get everything squared away and arrived in “The Big Apple” on Thursday, Oct. 31, made weight on Friday and then defeated Kelvin via split decision the following night.
And according to Till, President Donald Trump may have played a part in getting everything resolved.
“I spoke to Dana and I’m getting it sorted right now. He spoke with me and the team and they are doing everything they can to sort this problem out and ironing it out I appreciate that from them because they didn’t have to go to the lengths they did,” Till said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show via ESPN.
“I think Trump got involved. I’m not so sure, but I think he got a call. I’m not so sure. It’s just madness, Trump speaking my name! I don’t even what to say.”
Interestingly enough, Till says while Trump may have helped him get to New York, he almost cost him his chance to compete, as well. That’s becasue security was so tight inside MSG, he almost didn’t get his physical done.
“I didn’t have my medical yet, but they were shutting down the USADA office for the president and then they tried to kick me out of the room. They were saying that I couldn’t fight. I refused to leave the room. Kevin Lee had just left, and so did Derrick Lewis, and then I was just sat there.”
In the end, Til land his team had to convince the doctor to go to his hotel room to get the physical done in time.
”I made sure the doctor came to my room to get my medical because that was just another thing,” he said. “If anything could have went wrong, it did. I was so focused on what was coming in the fight, I wasn’t paying attention. And then they started talking about maybe me not fighting. I didn’t even cause a fuss. I just thought, ‘Is this fight not meant to happen?’”
“I put so much into it. I put everything I had, even money, I put everything into this. For me, it was a do-or-die fight,” he said.
After seeing everything Darren went through during fight week -- which also includes overcoming his fears — I’m sure his successful debut at Middleweight tastes just that much sweeter.